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Peace Cupboard by Susan Shie
Detail of Peace Cupboard by Susan Shie

Detail of Peace Cupboard by Susan Shie

Detail of Peace Cupboard by Susan Shie

Detail of Peace Cupboard by Susan Shie

Susan Shie comments:

This is probably my very favorite piece of all my works, certainly of all my small works. I made it in the first year of working with airpen, so the lines are more varied than they became later, and I love the syncopation that variation gives the work. I began this piece as a demo in one of my Turtle Art Camps here in my home in Wooster, Ohio, and the actual plan was to make a painting of a little cupboard I wanted to buy, that I had seen that morning with my students, but I wanted to see what it would look like painted green, instead of the white it was then. As I painted it, I thought about how it could become a Green Peace Cupboard, full of the healing energy we need in our war-torn world. I began the piece on April 4, 2003, and the war in Iraq had just started then ...

So what went with a Peace Cupboard? I'm pretty sure I didn't have any sketches, and I just started drawing things that made sense to me for what I'd need to bring peace to the world. I drew a large St Quilta the Comforter, the figure I created in 1997, as an archetype of my own mother, who'd passed away in Oct, 2001. I gave her a pea pod for a nose, so when we looked at her, we'd think PEAS, er, peace.

I gave her her usual extra eyes for intuition and also for communicating more intuitively to others, and put her teacup full of compassion on her head. She got a Peace Palm growing out of her shoulder, and a Duct Tape Peace Charm floating over her ... can you remember when they said we should put up plastic sheeting and duct tape, and stay in the safe room that made, if we got attacked with nerve gas?? I also gave St Q a little concertina to play Peace Tunes, and put some Peace Buddha Girls around her, along with my two girl cats Tulip and Marigold. Where Q's breasts go, I gave her green goddesses. The more strong women to fend off war, the better, I figure.

On the green cupboard, I wrote "Powerful Earth Armoire, Magical cupboard of loving world togetherness, full of Love Duct Tape for All." I was INTO this whole image of using Duct Tape to heal the earth, thanks to Donald Rumsfeld, or whoever had come up with the plastic sheeting and duct tape way of surviving in case of chemical war.

On the Peace Cupboard, I drew a big Duck Full of Understanding, because I feel that tolerance of each other is what brings peace, and I wrote "All we are praying is give peace another chance," above the duck, among the stars. The Big Duck has been an affirmation tool I've used for many years, usually imaging it full of money. It's the Big Duck from Montauk, Long Island. This Big Duck is getting ready to eat up the big Precious Pie of Peace, which is hovering temptingly in front of it, and under the big, healing Sun.

There's another cat standing on its back legs, to the right of the Peace Cupboard. This is Peace Kitty, a character I invented to conceptually go to the US Congress, the President, the UN, and anywhere else war is being talked about, and just rub up against those guys, and just very gently instilling some Peace into them.

After I painted this piece, I began to hand sew it. This was well before my fingertips got numb from too much sewing, and I think I put the most stitching and beading into this little piece, of all my artworks, because I loved it so much and really felt it was worth the extra work. I even have round seed beads sewn all over the background, and that drove me nuts, because I was knotting them down, before and after sewing on each one.

It was starting to drive me nuts, all that really bad eye strain to find the holes in those seed beads and thread the extra tiny bead needles they required. I think I was really thinking that I should start backing off on the hand sewing and pay more attention to getting more paintings made. But it took the sore hands in 2006 to really finally make me make that change to mostly machine sewing - which gave me the joy of being able to work much, much bigger again, like I had when I was in junior high, high school, and college. I'd always been able to crank out very large amounts of large work back then, and had slowly made my work smaller and smaller, as the sewing got more and more detailed and tiny.

So Peace Cupboard was probably the most embellished thing I ever did in one small area, but aside from that, I think it's also my best composition, my best colors, and my best message.

I am putting Peace Cupboard up now, because I never did before, as I really started putting up statements with works on their own gallery pages in 2005, beginning with NEO Buddha.

I hope you enjoy Peace Cupboard as much as I do, and I know we certainly still need to send out Peace into the world, to the leaders of nations and from them all the way to our personal friends and enemies, our family and all the creatures. Instead of sending out fear and distrust, let's get into Peace Vibes in a big way.

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