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Magic Lama



Susan Shie explains:

This large and complex piece was made during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, while Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton vied for the nomination. Susan Shie comments: I drew the Statue of Liberty as Barack Obama's mother, embracing him and the party. Obama hugs the donkey of the Democratic Party, and a sweet mystery face is on or in the donkey, too. Maybe it’s the Spirit of the Times? A big green Buddha head is in the belly of the Statue of Liberty, giving us grace and peace at a time when we really, really need it.

The “Magic Lama” here is the Dalai Lama, who is going through some very hard times, as is Obama. Both are under attack from their political enemies, and both espouse the basic religious idea “I am my brother’s keeper.” Both are gentle and wanting to bring conflicting people together. I’ve made other artworks with them involved, as my attitude is that both of these leaders are living the holy life as much as they can. On my little Dalai Lama, at the center top of this piece, I wrote “Lamas for Obama.” That would be another good title for the piece.

A refrigerator on the left has that phrase, “I am my brother’s keeper” on it, and a stove on the right says, “I am my sister’s keeper.” Like the large appliances in a kitchen, these are big, big issues in our lives. And we need to remember them, as we go through each day. When awaiting an outcome of such importance as this primary election, it’s easy to get angry at the other side and send hate. But those people are our brothers and sisters, too. Obama has done an excellent job of staying loving and kind, of focusing on the issues, rather than attacking Clinton. His campaign of unity and caring is what his presidency will be like.

The big wind-up kitchen timer, the subject of this piece, sits down in the bottom left hand corner of the painting, and you can see my wishful thinking of it being about time for it to go off – for the primary race to end. I managed to write the delegate scores from all the primaries so far around the edges of that timer’s front! I started what I called an “oral history” of the primary events, writing on the blue donkey, but soon realized I wasn’t able to retain enough statistics in the right order, etc. So I went to Wikipedia and took notes for about two hours, studying what has only been four months, but seems like years! I then went back to the quilt and wrote from my notes, giving a more accurate rundown of such a complicated waiting period.

There are pies on this piece, as is usual of my work. Pies are my symbols for gifts and blessings, and there’s a Yes We Can Pie, to verify that Obama will not only win the nomination, but also the Presidency this November – and really be inaugurated, unlike Al Gore, who also won.

Peace Symbols and peace roses are painted here, to remind us all the time that the biggest waiting period we’re going through now is waiting for the end of two big wars our country continues to cause in the world. Pray for peace now, for an end to both wars! Yes, we can do that, too.

The eyes: again, as always, I give everyone two extra eyes, for better understanding, better connection to their own intuition and to the rest of us. Send Bush and all leaders love and kindness, so that they can absorb these blessings and become peace and love advocates.

The tiny diary writing in this piece is mostly about the primary election race events, though of course, some of the stories are from my personal life. About teaching at Arrowmont this April, while Jimmy and his friends went fishing all week in the Smoky Mountains nearby. About Eva turning three and a half on Earth Day, which was also the Pennsylvania primary day.

Magic Lama, detail

Magic Lama, detail

Magic Lama, detail 2
Magic Lama, detail

Magic Lama, detail 3
Magic Lama, detail

More quilts by Susan Shie

Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade