Jul 20, 2015

FOR THE WOMEN BEHIND THE LABEL

This morning as I was working on enlarging BEHIND THE LABEL, the huipil homage for the garment workers whose lives were lost in the collapse of Rana Plaza, I was just doing my normal thing. Stitching while sending love, blessings, hope to the women in India, Bangladesh, Colombia, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, and on and on. It's an "art as meditation" practice I developed many years ago, and continue to this day.





But today as I tuned in to them, I recognized not only empathy, compassion, connection, but also a renewed gratitude for my own life. In all these countries, women are sitting at sewing machines today, making the clothes we wear. They are not sewing in the way I am sewing, i.e. making art of their design, in their joy, from their hearts; they are in desperate situations, most often slave labor conditions. In this moment, I know they don't quit to go make an espresso when they want one, to go to the bathroom when they need to, to check their emails and Facebook when they get tired of sewing. 

Then I looked up at Judith, the woman who helps keep my house clean so that I can dedicate more time to my art. I told her how much I appreciate her, for doing my work / the work that I could be doing. She literally burst out laughing, but when the conversation turned to the awesomeness of having her here to help me, we both ended up teary-eyed. 

We always seem to be working side by side when Judith is here, yet for so many reasons, my work is not like her work. She does make a decent wage, she gets paid for 4 hours even when she only works 2. She gets perks like pay when she wants to go watch her kids in a parade instead of come to work here. She can come and go as she likes, with a key to my house rather than a barred door. She will not have to jump from a high window if a fire breaks out, and in fact, I'm confident that if a fire did break out, she would find me and make sure we both get out.

Today I find myself comparing her life with mine, then comparing it with the women in the garment industry. And I know there is no way to compare. So I return to sending them all love, blessings and hope, Judith included. May everyone be happy, may they be well, may they be protected,  may they be free from misery. And may all of us stand for fair labor laws, justice in the workplace, and equal pay. Have an excellent day!

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