Monday, June 1, 2009

Perceived Identity

Well, I opened my big mouth and shared my process and grand plans, and then fell flat on my face. I tried to say too much in this quilt and I think went too literal.

I liked the theme Identity. I definitely have issues with my own, so I jumped in eagerly. I am a white, middle class, stay at home mom, married to an Army officer. I have found over the years that many of the people I meet on a day to day basis have made certain assumptions about me based on this, and their own experiences (we all do it). Funny thing is, those assumptions are usually wrong.

So, am I a hawkish republican, devoted Christian, who went to college to get her Mrs. and become a mommy?

"Who's Identity is it Anyway?"

Lifting the layers of assumptions, one would find that no, I prefer diplomacy and a focus on domestic affairs. I vote Democratic with leanings toward the Green.

I stay at home with my kids because we are financially able, and I never did find a job in the American community in Germany (where we lived for 12 years) that was worth paying for child care for.

I married a man more than three years my junior so I'm older and have had more world and work experience than most of my peers married to officers of the same rank as my husband (the 1965 in little circles on the base layer is my birth year). I am not defined by his rank, job title, or social security number (as much as the Army tries to define me as such).

And I'm an Atheist in the pervasively Evangelical Christian military community.

That said, I don't like how my quilt turned out. It was too much. My real identity versus my perceived identity is something to talk about over weekly coffees on the lanai or while watching the kids play at the park. It's part of getting to know someone. It's not something to be conveyed in one 12x12 piece of fabric.

So, I decided to focus one just one aspect of my identity.

"Sponsor's Social"

In the army, I am known only by my sponsor's social security number. Everything I do is in the context of me being attached to him. I loved the idea of "Hello my Name is..." and pulled out the old shirt front concept again. But, my man refused to let me publish his actual number, so the one you see is totally fabricated -- which defeats the purpose of my identity being defined by him.

So, in the end, I'm not happy with either of these solutions.


Karen said...

Oh Kristen you are so right about the first piece. I think a lot of us had so much to say about our identity it was hard to focus on one little part. I think it is wonderful to look at with all the layers and you reveal so much about yourself (we are kindred souls I think). On your official piece, I really like the shirt and badge, it conveys so much about government, corporate, national identity.

Dale Anne said...

Kristin, I LOVE the first piece. YES, I also, LOVE the second piece but to me the first says so much looking into your soul.

Diane said...


I love how much you tackled on that first piece-- you definitely had a lot to say, and the way you tried to incorporate each aspect is really interesting. But, in the end, I agree with your conclusion --- the piece doesn't feel as strong as the work you usually produce. I do see, tho, that this idea give you more fodder, if you wanted to continue to explore it.

I like the second piece a lot -- the shirt front and name tag idea are very strong. It is funny that it's a fabricated # but of course it's not appropriate to publish your husband's number.

Deborah Boschert said...

The military is perversely Evangelical. You're right about that.

I'm so sorry you're not pleased with either piece. That's a bummer, but part of the experience. There are many things I like about each piece. Especially the selvage edge birth date!

Terri said...

I love both of these. I really like the visuals of peeling back the layers to see more about you. That's so true when one gets to know someone else. Each bit of information gained about someone is another small layer being lifted.

Terry said...

I think you have nailed the difficulty of this theme. None of us wanted to reduce our identity to one concept. In that way your first piece, failed though you think it might be, expresses the stubborn refusal we all have (and rightfully so, I think) to be quickly and neatly pigeon-holed. I do like the simplicity, graphically, of the second and unlike the first, expresses your more usual ironic take on the theme--that qualifying bit of identity that tells the world exactly NOTHING!

Kristin L said...

Terry, you made my day! If the fact that living by my husband's social security number tells the world nothing, then it being a made-up number actually fits the concept! I'm feeling better about this already.

Gerrie said...

Terry said it so well. She always does, doesn't she? I think I like the simplicity of the second piece, but I love all the context that you put into the first piece. I am always so impressed with you and the thought that you put into these pieces. And thank you for giving mine a deeper meaning than I did!!

kirsty said...

Is it too selfish for words that I'm kind of relieved that another twelve has not really loved their quilt? I have had that experience several times during this journey (including this one) so I understand how you feel.
Having said that, however, I am rather enamoured of the shirt and name sticker. The whole concept of being known by your husband's number is so perverse. I adore the quilting you did over the name sticker - it looks like a tantrum-like protest!

Gale Dupell said...

You showed a lot of courage to tackle such a complex issue. I agree it didn't work as a finished piece and I would encourage you to create some other piece on this theme. The power of your vision does come through.

Antonija said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Antonija said...

Sorry--had to delete my first comment due to typos!
Anyway...I think both of these pieces are very thoughtful and well done. I love the layers in the first and the simplicity and powerful statement of the second.

Françoise said...

I like all the layers in your first piece. It needs to be looked at closely. I'm sorry you don't like it.