chapter  12
14 Pages

Alone in the Desert

Making Sense of the Senseless Through Story Cloths
WithLisa Raye Garlock

Throughout history, and across cultures, people have used needle, thread and fabric to tell stories-stories of loss and memories, of triumphs and victories, of death, war and torture, and of hope. Sewing together allows people to hear each other’s stories in a slower, intimate yet non-threatening way, and process emotions through the rhythmic, repetitive and bilateral movements of stitching. Deep emotions can be sewn into the cloth, transferring them from body to cloth in a way that makes meaning of confounding experiences, and brings to light hidden or forgotten resiliency. This chapter explores how narrative textiles may start as personal stories that need to be told, and then become important statements about universal human rights and social justice issues. Looking at individual and group story cloth making, her own process of making story cloths based on human rights issues, and collections of story cloths from various countries, the author explores how narrative textiles and art therapy work powerfully together to inspire, express what needs to be known, and heal both individually and collectively.