I bought 75 pounds of TSA confiscated scissors from eBay. It was 2008 and I was preparing for my MFA thesis project. I was in NYC completing my creative degree 7 years after the Twin Towers had fallen and TSA had made a bunch of new rules to protect us all from the threat of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Does having our scissors and other sharp objects confiscated from our bags, suitcases and purses help keep us all safe?
It was a sweltering hot spring day in Phoenix and I stopped by a yard sale where I discovered waist high boxes filled with scissors, wine corkscrews and other sharp confiscated items purchased at an airport auction. I was fascinated and in awe. A number of years later, remembering the abundance and intensity of the items, I decided these could be the perfect recycled materials for me to work with for my thesis sculpture series. I decided to construct something new out of these “threatening weapons” that had found their way to yard sales and eBay after being sold off from the airport excess. Annual auctions each year sold these sharp objects accumulated since these new safety rules were put in place. I titled my thesis exhibition Confiscated Weapons of Mass Construction.
I divided my bounty into piles on the floor and sorted the scissors by color, shape and design. There were colorful construction scissors, medical grade instruments, cuticle size scissors, and scissors in all sizes and shapes, some made from metal and others from plastic. I became a scissors connoisseur with a collection of my favorite unusual designs saved and set aside for display. In my collection I saved the largest ones that measured over a foot, and the tiniest one that were under 2 inches, all metal ones with large equal sized openings for fingers, ones with different sized finger holes, one vintage one in the shape of a stork, and all different scissors with colored hard plastic handles.
One of the greatest joys in my life is the meditative activity of building something new. It brings me such sublime happiness to take ordinary items and up-cycling them into something extraordinary. For many months I played weekly in my studio with the scissors assembling them and disassembling them to create sculptures from a variety of textures and patterns. I explored ways to construct them into circle forms and mandala designs. I made exploratory sculptures by stabbing them into cork, casting them in thin layers of cement, stapling them to wood, building gigantic designs on the floor and then zip tying them together. When I zip tied them together this material became extra charged with meaning as a “weapon” because zip ties are also used by police forces as impromptu handcuffs when attempting to arrest large groups of people.
For me, the circle form represents unity and brings all fragments of life together into an infinite unbroken archetypal shape. As a meditation student and spiritual seeker my lifelong work has been to bring my own fragments of consciousness into an experience of perfection. I have always been one to push the edge, in my family and in my creative career. By using sharp scissors this edge became physical. By using materials that could be used to inflict deadly injury, I have enjoyed exploring the fine line between opening and being ripped open. Just like a pure note can shatter a glass, it is my hope to make sculptures and images that can piercingly and positively imprint the consciousness of the viewer.
The greatest issue of our times is our disconnection from Self and consequently each other. Hindu yantra diagrams, Tibetan and Navajo sand-paintings, and sacred geometry images are healing visual communications. I draw inspiration from these ancient art forms and by visually portraying the perfection of the circle form, I bring a modern offering and reminder on how to bring a sense of calmness and wholeness. We can focus on our interconnectedness with life. If we each remove the layers of our trauma we help the sunlight of the spirit shine more brightly in ourselves.
I had a breakthrough one day when I assembled over 100 black-handled scissors into a circle with the handles on the outside and all the blades turned inwards (black zip ties tightly hold all the scissors together.) In this arrangement, the scissors are transformed from individual sharp points to concentric circles formed by the black handles and silver blades. When viewed from above the individual scissor shape disappears and the metal blades become a fascinating jagged edged metal tunnel that pulls into you into an empty center.
One day in my studio I built a thin foldable scissor circle and was inspired to place it around the neck of a friend. It became a pokey collar with scissors and blue zip ties. This began a new direction for the scissor sculptures as they became wearable. I made collars and bracelets and breastplates. This scissor armor work grew over 5 years to become my Wearable Weapons series. Vulnerability, protection and healing is the theme. I want viewers to experience a heightened sense of caution and reverence of their own fragility and sacredness.
As modern culture heads towards “Utopia or Oblivion” as Buckminster Fuller’s last book was titled, we are all feeling the effects of constant change and upheaval. We are each being asked to draw upon our inner resources to survive. Wearable Weapons are poetic and playful sculptures designed to help empower, strengthen and promote a sense of beauty, and question our individual sources of security and safety for all who encounter them. The Wearable Weapons series helped me begin to feel safe enough to feel more beautiful. These physical sculptures symbolized a layer of protection that empowered me to more fully experience my own sensuality and femininity. What brings a feeling of protection? Does armor, protective clothing and security measures at airports make one feel more safe?
The wings represent the healing transformation of my expansion beyond trauma and fear and the need for protection. I took the black-handled scissors and made life-size wings. I then took all of the medical grade scissors and made tail feathers to fully embrace the birdness of the costume. The tail feathers then became the main feature when I placed them on my front as a breastplate. I believe as humans we are 1/2 animals and 1/2 angels. It is my belief that ultimately no physical weapon will keep us safe. Physical weapons offer a false promise. I am beginning to truly embody the concept that our seeking Truth is our highest protection.
More Wearable Weapons viewable HERE :)