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  • Writer's pictureChiara

Live, Laugh, Love and other lies

For now I'm going to use the whitework embroidery as a starting place, since that aesthetic is proving to be the more effective one so far.


Once again, I’m first cab off the rank for Group Critique tutorials. I’m still in the middle of my Print Exchange Folio and there isn’t enough time to embroider my initial ideas. Besides which, embroidery is a lot of work for ideas that are still forming.


Thinking about embroidery suggests the stereotypical prettiness of feminine décor. It’s a small step from there to the oversimplified assertions of goodness and happiness like the ubiquitous “Live, Laugh, Love” plaques.

There are memes galore sending up the “Live, Laugh, Love” trend and when I do a google search, the suggestion “what is the opposite of Live, Laugh, Love” quickly pops up, so I’m not alone in my frustration.


This definition by the urban dictionary is devastating






Sharing even glimpses of my trauma has brought more than my share of platitudes. They are silencing and deny the complex reality of my experience. It is true of any trauma, but particularly of trauma that began in the pre-school years that finding words is a major struggle. When I think about my experience, the first word that comes to me is “tired”. Tired from years of chronic insomnia, tired because living with trauma is a daily challenge, tired because it is so easy to be misunderstood, tired because my physiological fight/flight system is in constant overdrive. In the spirit of mocking and echoing “Live, Laugh, Love” I look for two more words beginning with “T” and come up with “Tired, terrified, tormented”. Here's a start.

Paint on canvas board is my first choice to mock-up my ideas, but I’m afraid that white on white will be too hard to read in the tutorial setting without the contrast which the 3-D effect stitching adds to the work. So, I choose muted pinks and greens with a darker red for the words. As I paint, I realise that these are colours of conservative make-up. That’s OK. I’m not very good at painting! Even this simple image takes a fair bit of time.









On the day before the tutorial, I find the courage for another set of words. These are more difficult: “Afraid, aroused, abandoned”. “Afraid” makes sense. Fear is at the core of trauma. “Abandoned” is the experience of a child abused and neglected by parents. “Aroused” on the other hand speaks of sexuality or excitement. It introduces the dilemma of love-hate that is the experience of a child trapped in an enmeshed family in which abuse occurs in secrecy—unacknowledged even within the family and disguised as love. I print the words in white on a cream background and pin them off to one side of the painted words.


My reflection on the Tutorial is here

Zeta_C_s3707799_WIL_Studio 6
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