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The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie
The Kitchen Tarot

A 22 card deck by Susan Shie

The Tower tarot card
The Tower card
from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

Susan Shie with The Pressure Cooker
Susan Shie (center) and friends in front of The Pressure Cooker



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More quilts by Susan Shie

The Pressure Dooker by Susan Shie

Detail of The Pressure Cooker by Susan Shie

Susan Shie explains:

This tarot card subject, the Tower, was a real challenge, especially after having done two other negative card quilts this year: Death and the Devil. I'm going in the regular order of the cards, so this is how it had to be, so that's that, but more upbeat subjects are on the horizon: The Star, Moon, and Sun. I batted around some ideas and settled on using a pressure cooker as the Kitchen Tarot's symbol for the Tower, since sometimes they explode in the kitchen, when that steam pressure gets too high, and beans or other foods get shot all over the a pressure cooker once, and was just too chicken to use it much. Mom's always scared me when she cooked with it, and I gave mine away pretty fast. I went to eBay to see what exactly pressure cookers look like, and there were tons of them. After scanning down page after page of those little thumbnail photos of pressure cookers, I realized they'd made a kind of Tower in my mind, since they were all one above the other in the index pages. I could make a tower of a bunch of them! And I could assign each pressure cooker one of the messes I believe Bush has gotten us into.

I leaned my tower way, way over to the right, just like how the government is leaned that way, so extremely that it's way out of balance. It looks like it's going to fall right on us, the citizens. I have Jimmy and me (symbolizing our generation) standing under the teetering cookers, holding up our hands, hoping to keep it from falling right on us, and on our family. Gretchen and Mike (standing for their generation) are in their house, trying to protect Eva (another generation), too caught up in just trying to get by, they can't come out and help fight the messes, but still, they're very aware of what's going on. I think we represent a ton of Americans, in how we want to protect our kids, and how we have to keep working so much, we don't have time to really fight hard.

But we can all vote. If the votes are counted honestly, we can change things. The two yellow dogs are for the yellow dog Democrats, like us, who'd rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican.The Statue of Liberty stands beside the tower of steamed up, ready to blow, pressure cookers. She looks out at you, the viewer, holding her torch of truth in her LEFT hand, not the traditional right. This is a liberal Liberty, and the poem by Emma Lazarus that's on the real Statue's pedestal, the one about America being a haven for the poor and downtrodden of the world, that whole poem is written on the Statue in this piece. I learned a lot about her while I was doing this quilt, and believe me, she is about preserving our freedoms of speech, liberty, etc, etc. She is a very, very liberal liberal, that statue! She embodies what the French and the rest of the world used to admire about our country.

I put a big St Quilta the Comforter (my character in my work, inspired by my own mother, Marie Shie) on the right side of the tower, and we're standing on her. She's our rock of reason and compassion, unrattled by all the steam. Her eyes are closed, possibly in prayer for our deliverance from this state of affairs, and possibly in concentration for finding the strength to do the work it will take now to bring our country back to balance, back to kindness, after this horrific nightmare of right wing bulldozing, which has caused so much sorrow and so much pain to so many people.

I added the crows to this painting after all my writing was done, many days after making the original painting. I got to thinking about how people are speaking out more and more against this extremist government, and how this is what it takes to stop them. We, the people, who love America as a good-guy, helpful country, the one that brought us the Peace Corp, for instance, we must speak out, and do what we can, in spite of being called unsupportive, unpatriotic, etc. We, the crows, are squawking now, because we don't want America to be more and more a dictatorship that pretends to be a democracy. So there were "four and twenty blackbirds" here (I know, they're green.) I added one more, because it represents how Bush, Diebold, and company systematically cheat on counting the votes. And the pie the blackbirds flew out of? A tiny corner of that huge, and unpaintable because of its vastness, Power to the People Pie, is in the very bottom corner of this painting. That corner is just one little fluted edge of this nebulous, growing pie of Freedom. And the huge, sleeping head at the bottom of this piece, the head the pressure cooker tower is built on, that represents all the people who don't want to look at what's really going on. They're either asleep to the problems, or faking sleep. They don't want all those messes we tell them about to be true, and they'd rather not even hear it. They want to pretend that Bush is just a kinda goofy good old boy who loves God and Jesus and wouldn't ever do anything just for money, wouldn't sell America down the river. Wouldn't be a war criminal.

Well, more and more of those sleeping people are waking up and becoming the crows, and you ARE a patriot when you want to bring the US back to being a good nation. You're not making all this noise to rip people off. You're making it to save the world. That's what America used to do. That's how come the French gave us that statue, remember? Wake up now! Thank you.The diary on this piece has tons of stories about just plain old life here in Wooster, besides my political commentary. I wrote about about things like Lamont beating Lieberman in the Connecticut primary for their Senate seat, Jimmy burning out a nest of yellow jackets in the ground near our house, Castro turning 80 on August 13, us taking our dog Hattie Spooler to the vet for her heavy breathing and gagging, and the terrorist thing in England that led to them not letting us take even toothpaste on flights. I told about Hilary Fletcher's passing away - which was such a shock to the art quilt world, and the passing also of my friends Lois Flinn and Roger Bauer, Cindy Sheehan's small Camp Casey land near Bush's ranch, the WAGE art group meeting at Stan's house in Amish Country, and Eli Pariser on the Colbert Report.

I wrote about how they had to cut down the giant oak tree in front of GEM's house, my hand problems, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Pastafarianism, how Laura thinks handwriting is a dying art but I'm helping to preserve it and some history lessons like about Machiavelli and his political strategies embraced by the Bush folks. I told about Sen. George Allen and the now famous video made by S R Sidarth, the young American of Indian descent, who filmed the senator at his political rally, calling Sidarth "macaca" and telling him very sarcastically "Welcome to America!" I wrote about the fight over internet neutrality, and how we may lose a lot of our internet freedom of speech, thanks to right wing big money.Agin, Power to the People, raise your cawing voice and don't be shamed into backing down. And get everyone you know to register to vote, and then to vote, and then to demand that the votes be fairly counted this time!!!!!!!!!

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