What is this post? It’s a new start of a post once a week called Who What Where, highlighting craftivism-related people, books and projects. Meant for both a quick read and a longer one, here’s a quick rundown plus links to where you can find more information!
Who: Gisela Griffith
What: Secrets of Nature, Collaborative Embroidery Project with fellow breast cancer patients
Idea: When Gisela Griffith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she decided to research the plants that the drugs themselves came from. (Neat, huh?) Then she started painting the plants as she began to know more about them, then switched to embroidery “to help her relax during her illness.” This began a new interest in ethnobotany. While doing this, she noted, “Why don’t I share this with other people as a way to relax and meditate on their journey?” And just like that, a collaborative art project was born!
The exhibit is a group show that features embroideries of plants used in chemotherapy from survivors, patients, and family members of all sewing abilities.
The project started after Griffith painted about eight plants before hitting a creative block and switched to embroidery to help relax during her illness.
That’s when the idea struck her: “Why don’t I share this with other people as a way to relax and meditate on their journey,” she recalled at the opening.
Griffith assembled kits, each with a unique plant design and all the materials needed to complete a needlework, and distributed them to interested patients at BMC.
She also provided individual lessons to those who had never done needlework while they received their treatment.
“I liked her spirit. Working with Gisela, she kept going ‘I don’t care if you do it badly the first time or you’ve never done it before. Just give it a try’,” said Midge Vreeland, an embroidery beginner who stitched Curcuma longa, that is used to produce the drug curcumin.
Vreeland, who lives in Maine, made sure to schedule her doctor’s appointment on the same day as the exhibit opening. She said she liked a positive project to focus on during treatment that also taught her more about her treatment.
“We keep hearing do everything natural, exercise, take organic–it’s kind of nice to know these actual plants were the start of chemotherapy drugs,” she said.