GIFTS FOR THE RIVER:
GRIEF GARLANDS, 2018
These Grief Garlands are strung from 10 years worth of found silk flowers blown from grave sites near where I walk along the river. Many, many were found as single, lawn-mower shredded petals, or lone silk flowers hiding in the leaves along the river bank. Some are from my own family’s graves. I started collecting them because the material identity was so strong, because they held such powerful memory, intention, grief and prayer. Because they held duty and obligation and tears. Because they bore witness to so many private, harrowing conversations with lost loved ones, and because they had become litter that was begging to be honored in some greater way.
The flowers are sewn into one very long “prayer garland” with heavy-duty fishing line. A path was raked through fallen leaves in the woods and the garland was laid down on the path leading up to a large nest built beside the river, the garlands also filling the nest. I then slowly fed the garland out of the nest and into the river, letting the water wash over the long garland of flowers, letting the flowers and all they hold be cleansed and carried by the river, eventually slowly drawing the garlands back in from the river and carrying them all away.
As I continued to collect grave flowers for the next few years, many of these same flowers also became part of 2021 piece, Gathering Grief: A Socially Distanced Mourning Gown.
To learn more about the Gifts for the River Project or to submit your own river stories, art and experiences, go to www.giftsfortheriver.com