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The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie
The Kitchen Tarot

A 22 card deck by Susan Shie

King of Pentacles tarot card
King of Pentacles card
from the Rider-Waite tarot deck



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More quilts by Susan Shie

French Toast bhy Susan Shie

Susan Shie explains the genesis and meaning of this Kitchen Tarot quilt:

My husband Jimmy and our granddaughter Eva made French toast one day this June, when Eva was at the end of a two week summer visit. They’d made pancakes together before, and Eva has helped me make a lot of things, but this French toast thing was particularly nice. Maybe it struck me as so special, since Eva used it to illustrate the Father’s Day card she made for her Poppy.

I had chosen the King of Coins tarot card at random, to see what minor card in my Kitchen Tarot deck I would make as an art quilt next, and decided that Jimmy would make a dandy King of Potholders (my KT version of the suit Coins.) The King of Coins is a very kind, just ruler, very earthy and generous leader. He provides for his subjects with an open heart.

Besides showing them making French toast together, I wanted to put a lot of information in my writing, about the World Trade Center destruction on September 11, 2001, ten years ago. I had just found out that Eva, who was born three years after 911, knew nothing about that whole tragedy. I decided that there must be a whole lot of little kids whom no one had had the stomach to inform about that day’s events. Who’d want to give their kids nightmares over airplanes crashing into skyscrapers full of people, into the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania?

I’d made a very small, 9” x 11” piece for a tenth anniversary show about 911, in which I showed Eva in her ballet outfit, staring up at a picture on the wall, of the Twin Towers. And in that tiny space, I’d tried to tell little kids about what happened. But of course, it was way too small of a space to teach them much at all.

So now, with my large format French Toast piece, I drew in the top left corner the same wall piece of the Twin Towers, and then used up a lot of the big piece’s space, to tell about what happened, when and where, and why the terrorists said they did it. I don’t think we need to give our little kids nightmares, but they still have a right to know about 911. It’s a terrible story, but shouldn’t be hidden.

So my narrative is a mixture of my personal diary stories of that time, mixed in with 911 stories. My mother’s brownie recipe, for instance, is on our dog Libby’s body and tail, next to some of the details about what happened when the Trade Centers fell down and almost 3,000 people were killed in one morning.

Several women died during the making of this piece, whom I mentioned in the writing. They include Carole Serio, a friend in Columbus who was an art quilter in Art Quilt Network; Ardis James, international quilt collector and philanthropist; and First Lady Betty Ford.

When this piece eventually becomes a card in my actual Kitchen Tarot deck, it will be cropped to form a vertical rectangle, so both sides will be cropped out. The Trade Centers, me, and the table on the right side will all be missing from the playing card image.

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