While watching PBS the other day I was thankfully able to catch a weekly show on that does a profile on a figure from the arts and culture world. This past week it featured filmmaker Camilla Rockwell and fiber artist Deidre Scherer. They were being interviewed about Rockwell’s documentary, “Holding Our Own: Embracing the End of Life”, a documentary which featured Scherer’s beautiful art work. I had not heard of either of them before watching this but the content and foundation of their passion and work kept me watching [and I’m truly glad I did].
Following the interview was the actual documentary which was a very powerful experience for me. As Frank Ostaseski said (Founder of the Metta Institute & Zen Hospice Project),”[the film is]… a beautiful portrayal of the art of dying….illustrates how the strength and beauty of the soul emerges even as the body fades….”
The film follows Scherer’s creative process from drawing at bedside through to the development of her ‘thread on fabric’ work. Her fiber work focuses on “the universal issues of age and mortality.” By honoring the framework of aging and seeing death as a natural part of life, Scherer says,”my figurative images lift the invisibility that surrounds these subjects. This work starts a dialogue that is essential to our times and supportive to all who are working or living in the field of great age.” Scherer uses fabric and thread as her primary medium to create these beautiful pieces of fine art. Besides the heavy content of her art it is truly breathtaking to see the final product after all the time, layering, piecing and sewing that has been put into it – through this process she creates such an emotional and real portrayal of these people in their last moments of life. The textures are rich and you truly get the sense that you are missing something viewing them on a 2D computer screen. To see more of her art – Deidre Scherer
The films also follows the Hallowell Singers, a local group of singers who offer songs for healing and comfort at the bedsides of the ill or dying. While watching the singers visit patients there is something that holds wraps tightly around your heart.. you feel both happiness and sadness – a huge wave of emotion just takes over. Like a wave it is also calming to the soul. It is a celebration of life. “Music can open hearts, quiet fears and touch all who are present..” The power of art and music over the one moment in life which all of us fear … is truly worth discovering.