Self Portrait 2012 by Gina Maria Kleinmartin

2012 was easily the worst year of my life. Because of the nature of everything that went wrong, however, I was forced to maintain a facade of calmness while falling apart inside.

Like many people through the millennia, I sought solace through the meditative repetition of needlework. Through long hospital stays and court visits, I always had a piece with me to work on. The distraction and the creation and the stabbing of the ground fabric all bring comfort. Indeed, when our son’s godfather died a week ago, I found comfort monogramming handkerchiefs for his wife, mother, and eight-year-old son who survived him. So, I used the medium I understand best to try and express the contrast of emotion and my inner turmoil of 2012.

This piece is worked in layers. Before starting the back layer of wallpaper, I researched the deadly Schloss Green. The background has been painted with watercolors to reproduce that color, and then the pattern stitched in cotton in colors close to it. The design is also loosely based on a Victorian pattern but was designed to have demons (there are two) and a screaming, crying woman in the repeat. As humans we look for patterns, and under times of stress, we are unlikely to find pleasant ones.

The second layer is the woman. She is on flimsy fabric without any good support, either from legs or background. The turmoil in her chest bursting out, but unnoticed by those around her. Worked entirely in silks, except for the Schloss Green leaf with the poppy in her hair. She is managing to stay calm because she has no choice.