The Story of Broken Wings
I’ve always been humbled and inspired when I hear stories of people who go on and rise up in the face of great loss and struggle. Could I do what they do? How do they do it? Tough questions. No easy answers.
I wanted to create a body of work that explored this theme. While unsuccessfully trying to find a visual way to express this theme, I heard a song that has always moved me deeply — the Beatles song Blackbird. The words, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly” just pierce me. My project took flight. I began making wire frames or using fallen tree branches to form the skeleton and pieces of torn fabric, tattered paper and other ephemera. Each set of strange wings became a mobile.
Then the most amazing thing happened. I was invited to show and speak about my project to several classes of high school and college students. After each presentation, a few students would share their own struggles and how they were trying to go on in the face of loss. I invited them to share with me any belongings that represented their struggle and I would use those broken pieces to create a set of wings. One student gave me the headscarf her mother had worn before she lost her battle with breast cancer, a teen-ager gave me the razor blade and bloody shirt she used when she cut herself, an older college student gave me the scarf her 13 year old child had worn the day she was hit and killed by a car. Each of these individuals wanted to share these items so they could share their stories. And perhaps, in the sharing is the healing. We are made to go on.
The coffee table size book Wing Biographies by Susan Richardson has many more images and poems and is available at Amazon.