22 Oct

Healing Arts Exhibit

Last week I was invited to speak at the 11th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Healing Arts Talk

The exhibit started as an awareness campaign for the Breast Cancer Center and has now grown to encompass the use of the arts in many types of healing. The vast majority of artwork was created by patients at Walter Reed. Mine was there because the director loves my work and believes that it speaks to the same audience. I took four pieces from my Army Wife series. The two aprons on the plinth will stay for about a month — until mid November.


Healing Arts Exhibit

It was a fantastic experience. I spoke about my inspiration for the series and how it not only allows me catharsis but can also give expression to others who may not have found their words or images. Apparently it went over well. It’s hard to predict what kinds of connections an event like this will create, but I met the young curator who put together the show, many well heeled ladies from the Spouses Club, and one in particular who already gave me some tips for local galleries to shop another show to. Best of all was sharing my artwork with an audience who “got it.” Several wives came up and thanked me for expressing their story.

As an aside, there is nothing so humbling as spending a day at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. While my military experience has had it’s challenges, they are nothing compared to those faced by the service members themselves — especially those with visible and invisible injuries. I met several people whom I’m sure could tell fascinating stories. But the people watching is what amazes me every time I visit. Torsos outnumber limbs. I see different prostheses on every visit. Emerging from the elevator was a guy wearing standard leg prostheses and carrying blade prosthetics for running. Another man walking down the hall had a prosthetic hand with movable fingers. I think it was one of those that the wearer can control with their thoughts. There is always all manner of wheelchairs. Our favorite this time was the guy being pulled by his bulldog, but the dog was having a bit of a hard time because of the slippery floors. And then there’s the dogs. Many people have their own service dogs (like the wheelchair-pulling bully), but Walter Reed also has their own comfort dogs. Volunteers take these dogs around to patients or just hang around in the halls for anyone who needs a little doggy fix. Each dog has it’s own adorable harness/vest/pack thingie made from old military uniforms. They were made by a volunteer and are absolutely fantastic — some making great use of the uniform collars or pockets. One dog had her own custom ID tag. Too cute. My husband always stops to love on the dogs. It’s part of his own healing.

I am honored to have been asked to be a (very small) part of this important center for our military service members and their families.

29 Sep

I’m Done With The Other Woman

The Other Woman

I couldn’t put her down until she was finished. The idea for this one (in The Army Wife series) came to me during that fantastic week with creative friends in New York. Once home, I gathered supplies and jumped right in. This is not a quilt. Perhaps it could be classified as an embroidery. Sewn from vintage sheets, it is a work of textile art.

“The Other Woman”  71″ x 50″ 2001 (click to see a little bigger)

I don’t know if the saying, If the army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one is common outside the military, but inside it sure is.

Granted, the military has made great strides in caring for it’s family members. In the 16 years that I’ve been an army wife, I’ve seen vast improvements in services to help families cope with high operations tempo, deployments, and distance from natural support systems. However, the military is still a vocation that demands much from it’s members, and even the spouses with access to the most will still acknowledge that they often play second fiddle to That Woman: the job.

17 Jun

Be Strong

I gave a hint of this, the latest installation in my series, “The Army Wife,” a while back. I thought I was done, but something wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t sure what it was though.

Luckily, I have some very good online friends who I respect, who will give me their honest reactions to my work. They pointed out a few things that didn’t quite work for them either. Ah, now I could put a finger on it.

I bought more yarns, removed and completely re-did the original ties, and removed the red writing after all. I am much happier with the apron now. And so now I can share it with a wider audience.

“The Army Wife: Be Strong, Always” 2011, Kristin La Flamme

With service members deployed so often and for so long, with the dangers inherent in the job, with frequent moves undermining traditional support systems, it it imperative that military spouses be strong — ALWAYS. It’s not written, or said out loud, but it is assumed and expected.

13 Apr

Medallion for an Army Family

Medallion for an Army Family

I may have mentioned that I have a long-term vision for the Army Wife apron series. Maybe I didn’t. Eventually, I think they need to go in a gallery. With big, bed sized, quilts on the walls. One would be “War Sucks” from whence the aprons sprang.

Medallion for an Army Family

Another would be this one I’ve been excitedly working on in the background. I wasn’t sure if I should share it with the general public, but the show I plan on entering it in doesn’t seem to mind, and I just can’t contain myself. It seems like Medallion quilts are everywhere. Maybe I’ve just been in tune with them because their traditional roots work so well with my military life theme. Anyway, I got caught up in medallion frenzy and this one just flowed from my hands (in my typically slow and wonky way).

Medallion for an Army Family
“Medallion for an Army Family” Kristin La Flamme, 2011, 75″ x 80″