I have found that when people feel pain -- whether as the result of trauma directly experienced in their own lives or as suffered by those whom they value -- they experience feelings of anger, isolation, and despair, leading them to feel disconnected from those around them. Whether due to their own pain or the pain of others such as victims of historical social trauma, they feel isolated and disconnected, and each heart beats alone. Through my interactive art, I hope to bring healing by helping people, first, to rediscover their own true essence and, by connecting with others and working together, find the healing that occurs when people’s hearts touch each other.
The One Heart Project began with the desire to connect people through the art of quilt making. Starting with small patches of soft fabric of varying colors and designs, people sat together and slowly joined the pieces together into an ever larger quilt symbolizing the interconnectedness of everyone on this earth. Women and men, young and old, coming from all cultures and backgrounds, sat down together to sew. Each piece of fabric represented someone’s heart.
Sometimes they sewed in silence, sometimes shared stories, and at other times sang together quietly while their hands worked to connect the patches, one to another. Soon, the connected patches became more than a symbol as memories of trauma, pain, and isolation were transformed into a profound sense of shared peace and oneness with the world, one heart shared by many.
Sewing has long been considered an act of feminine energy, a caring and nurturing act. Sewing together, all who participated engaged in that caring and healing energy, and in return gained a new sense of self and unity with others.
Making the One Heart Quilt is a continuing process, as is the process of healing. This quilt will continue to grow in size as long as healing is needed.
One Heart’s healing ritual is an interactive ceremony which consists of placing the One Heart Quilt over symbols and forms set in public places such as memorials, statues, and other structures to honor the silenced voices of victims of historical social traumas. In the ritual, participants come together to cover the memorial structure with the One Heart Quilt as an act of embracing the trauma.
The collective heart of many beating as one in this meditative embrace brings healing energy to both the participants and the victims of trauma who are being honored. Mass trauma victims in recent history include those who suffered brutal human rights abuses and genocides such as the Holocaust and "Comfort Women" of WWII, and many other groups of people exploited, enslaved and/or annihilated around the world.
Besides the ceremonial covering of the public symbol, the ritual includes music, dance, and other types of performances in which participants are invited to join. To all those who contributed to making the One Heart Quilt, wherever and whenever it covers a symbol of trauma, their hearts will be there.