More on Protection and Protective Shells

Metal Washers sewn onto a small doll as protection or a Protective Shell,
Small Doll with Armor ©Susan McCaslin 1984

I am committed to my belief that the need for protection, the creating of a protective shell is a common thing for all of us. We just do it in different ways and for different reasons.

We experience our lives filled with unique reasons for needing the protection we seek. 

Why did the Old Leatherman wear a suit made from leather boot-tops? No one really knows but I think it might be because he could. He was comfortable with the material and he knew how to make an outfit, a coat and a pair of pants. He knew how to work the leather. He knew what his limits were, what he could carry and what he needed to survive. But why did he need the protection? Was it weather, snakes, sunburn — what? Why do we wear certain clothing? Fashion, the temperature, use? Do I need protection for something else than what you need protection for — something emotional or physical for survival?

Is the reason for protection more meaningful to me than you? If I have suffered physical abuse and you have suffered psychological abuse, do I need more or less protection than you? If I come from a culture where there has been more abuse and you don’t—like the Jews and the Holocaust or the African Americans and Slavery—do I need more protection than you who comes from the Anglo Saxon culture? If you come from a background of privilege, are you suffering less than if you had come from a culture that has suffered trauma?

Are their clues to the trauma or the suffering that we can detect by the choice of protection? Does the woman who has been raped have a different fashion sense than the unraped woman? Can one of us claim a level of protection over that of another?

We all suffer from abuse and trauma and we each create the protection that we need to survive. One way I protect myself is to be hyper-vigilant in observing the ways of others. I want to know why they are acting that way and I want to understand what they are doing and why. If I understand their behavior, I can protect myself from their actions. I wonder, would it be better to just put on a leather suit that is impenetrable? 

Los Angeles visit with sculptor Mary Little

Bush Tapestry-9632 by Mary Little, Los Angeles CA

Thanksgiving in Los Angeles!

Our son has moved to Los Angeles – allowing our entire family to spend a few days in paradise with him and his partner Angela Silva (more about them in another post.) Apart from the wonderful Thanksgiving feast, the walks around Echo Park Lake and the lazy visits to new coffee shops, we enjoyed a studio visit with old friends Peter Wheeler and Mary Little. They are fully committed to Mary’s new work – sculptural canvas works – some stretched, some hanging free. Rather than describing her work here, take a sec to look at her site and see the work as she presents it. 

Aside from the obvious joy in meeting up with old friends and the sheer awe I felt as I stood in their live/work space, I took away an intense admiration for their work ethic, the partnership they have always had but that has once again evolved to address the changing needs of Mary’s work. Suffice it to say, I will be bugging both of them with many questions about moving my work to a full-fledged business on which I just might be able to depend to pay the rent.