Starting collage book

Again. Beginning with red. Continuing, really.

Opener: The Hanged Man was right to hand in the box of scraps I chose to rifle through. A suitable symbol for certain aspects of my childhood. Perhaps this explains my attraction to the cross as a symbol. I return to it again and again.

When I do this work, collage work specifically, the old crap has a way of showing up. I don’t apologize for it, though an uglier subject can hardly be conjured.

But it’s all so long ago and after so many hands and hearts offered one kind of healing or another, it does surprise me a little — the persistence of childhood trauma as a theme.

PS I did not sleep a wink last night which means I was awake at the time of the partial lunar eclipse in Gemini. The cloudy sky prevented any viewing. What wind and rain we had yesterday and through much of the night. A disturbance of the atmosphere!

26 thoughts on “Starting collage book

    1. deemallon Post author

      Quite a lucky “accident” as the second grade portrait (taken on the day of my First Communion) was supplied by the “rolling the dice” function on the double exposure app. Out of almost 12,000 photos.

      Reply
  1. RainSluice

    I think your video is arresting and beautiful. Abuse is clearly at the core of the work, tragic and complicated, pervasive and persistent in our world (from inner to outer, moving in concentric waves). I’ll never understand why abuse seems to get forgiven, particularly for those in power, or as a way to wrestle power for themselves. To date no one has explained this phenomenon to me in scientific or logical terms. Perhaps there is no explanation except through artistic expression. But, nothing changes? That is what brings me to my knees. How can humans NOT learn to break these cycles of abuse? If it’s not parents, it’s neighbors, relatives, siblings, bosses, landlords.
    I just read a brief medical report about child abuse and findings of epigenetic changes that effect generations (through gene expression). To me, that might explain a good deal of it, but not nearly the half of it. There’s the nature/nurture thing at the very least? We can and do change our behavior as adults if we are taught to do so – okay, not always perfectly. But like racism (child abuse, sexism, hatred of “the other”) the heinous crimes have persisted since forever, right? I think so. But I personally want to believe we can make it go away by telling our stories. Stories of child abuse have not been on the best seller list, not the blockbuster shows. OF course when these stories are told, the ugliness is unbearable – or am I living in a weird bubble? I applaud you telling your story. May all of our stories empower all to stand against criminal behavior, violence and sworn-to keep-it-secret behavior. Rather than hide, or bury it where it festers, send forth and hold up truth to cause a reckoning.

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    1. deemallon Post author

      Thank you for such a full bodied response, Maggie. I do think trauma changes people on the cellular level and can be passed down thru the generations, as you suggest. But it doesn’t mean that we’re condemned to repeat the sins of others. Or carry them. It takes a while to learn that.

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  2. Marti

    Red: snapshot: I am 7, my sister is 5 and we both are wearing new red coats for Christmas, to go to midnight mass with our parents. We both have on white knit berets and artificial corsages with fake bits of green holly and red bells…corsages that match the corsage that my Mother also wore; gifts from my Dad. Does anyone wear them anymore? Every Christmas, an artificial corsage and at 7, I felt like a princess but wished my corsage could be different from my sister…

    Red: snapshot: getting my period at age 9, not sure what was wrong with me as my Mother was too “delicate” to explain the facts of life to me but my dear Dad quietly did…even went to the drug store to get what I needed. No girl I knew my age had her period at 9 so I felt distanced…especially when every month, my Mom insisted that I stay home from school for a few days, insisting that I had cramps and needed to rest…but I didn’t and loved school so staying home, albeit pampered with breakfast and lunch in bed was torture !

    Red: snapshot: wrote about this on Deb G’s blog: in high school, red shoes coveted but we lived on a very tight budget and I knew I would not be getting them. Wanted them because I had one of my few dates in high school, homecoming. Friends donated red mohair yarn so my Mom could knit a sweater to go with my cousin’s borrowed black skirt…red and black, colors of Spain…and maybe because of that, somehow, my parents found the $ to present me with the red shoes the morning of the dance…

    Red colors my memories with many mixed emotions; a color that I rarely wear anymore.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      Lovely, Marti. It’s interesting to me how color can be an organizing principle. The red shoes for the dance almost made up for the imposed rest and the non-unique corsage!

      We went to Mass, too. Never had a corsage. But we did get Easter hats and I remember loving the pearly buttons on my white gloves.

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  3. Acey

    My personal theory is that childhood trauma resurfaces for so many who ‘lived through it and moved on’ is because we’re steeped in a dominant culture that refuses to acknowledge the ongoing impact and staggering scope of such things occurring in the first place. EVen though all our culture’s ‘entertainment’ venues are crammed full of child abuse shadow language and normalization of innumerable kinds. The longer we live, the more triggers we experience plain and simple.

    as for red – for me it’s the most sacred color. When I was younger it was this, that, and the other and I had a hard time grounding it in the first chakra because with a fire ascendant and sun it was nigh on impossible to perceive it anything but fire-like. Had to garden for a couple of decades and get deeply into peri-menopause before the earthiness of the color rose to prominence.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      You make good points. And this hellscape of an administration has been triggering in some very specific ways. Love what you say about gardening to get to rose/the sacred.

      I have Leo on the ascendent. More things to think about.

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      1. Acey

        wow had to return. This explains why I always respond to your creative work especially from a fire place in terms of how I interpret it and then take it in as my own creative inspiration and nourishmment. Also why I speak to you as if we were both sun-powered. that part never made sense. like why am i doing it and why is she responding in kind.

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  4. ravenandsparrow

    Wow. A powerful post and intense comments to follow. Childhood trauma and abuse slash such deep wounds into our souls that our future selves are forever bent to their shape. Acknowledging their presence and steadfastly gazing upon the wreckage is the only way I have ever found to repair the damage. Your collages bring the pain out where it can be seen.

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    1. deemallon Post author

      “Acknowledging their presence and steadfastly gazing upon the wreckage” — so well put.

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  5. Hazel

    The persistence, yes, how I have no idea what happened last week, but could tell you every detail of moments decades ago. Much kindred love to you, dear Dee.

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    1. deemallon Post author

      Oh no! Don’t say that! Red is power. It’s full of information. It’s fertile and a beacon.

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      1. Anonymous

        Oooops! But it frightens me, personally. It feels so full of anger and passion, strong emotions and blood. I guess my many years of emergency/trauma caregiving experiences as first responder have coloured (!) my reactions. When I see red I see blood, I even smell it. Makes me feel nausea whenever I see red.
        Give me a calming light blue any time!

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  6. Nancy

    Dee, just now getting to comment on this one. I’ve always said “I’m not a red person” – in regards to clothing, when I’m told how it looks on me, among other times. Just never really liked it. Perhaps this post, the comments, your words say a bit why that is. No physical abuse to speak of…but there must be something there. Unlike you and Hazel, I’ve held a sense of question…such as what happened to me? There are wonderings, unknowns. The man looking through is really disturbing to me. This is such a powerful post Dee. You and the others who commented renewed my belief that art heals, helps. I’ve been so stuck in the why of it all…why bother, ends up in the landfill etc.
    Lastly, this post reminded me of something I’d not thought of in years. My mom, for some unknown reason, because she was usually much more wise about children, but for some reason…the day I started my period, took me by the shoulders and paraded me into the living room to “tell Daddy’ (think ‘our baby has become a woman’). Awful. I think her best friend may have been there too? Perhaps this is why I don’t like red?

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  7. Saskia van Herwaarden

    I am drawn to the paper-cut-out girl, possibly because she kind of reminds me of my younger paper-cutting self, although I cannot remember Jeremy Irons being in my life! only on the telly in wonderful BBC series
    red is definitely not my favourite colour, it was my mother’s, with her black hair and dark skin it suited her; blues and greens bring me joy, although I often use reds and pinks in sewing and in painting to add a punch or contrasting accent.

    Reply
    1. deemallon Post author

      I used to wear lots of green and olive and blue. I wear lots of red orange pink and rust now. Go figure. Yup. Jeremy Irons. You spotted him!

      Reply

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