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Marcia Embroidered Me the Sun

One November day, I stopped to talk with Carlos, a man who sold kitchen tools from a streetside stand outside my studio in Rio de Janeiro. As I looked at his potato masher, he noticed the embroidered poem, stretched over a hoop and sticking out of my bag. He urged me to meet Marcia.

Marcia Rodrigues Braga crocheted bikinis in the stand next to Carlos, where she also sold hats and bags. I returned to meet Marcia, and she pulled out a long golden needle. This was her method of embroidery, a beautiful method of pushing the needle through the fabric, creating stitches on one side and loops on the other. She insisted I practice, and gifted me with the needle.

The golden needle was the first of many gifts. Often I would see Carlos alone, watching both their stands, and he would suggest that there would be a particular reason for me to return and see Marcia. Indeed, at night, at home, Marcia embroidered me a golden petaled, purple centered flower on yellow cloth. When she presented it to me, she suggested I embroider a poem on it. A poem.

I wrote that poem, embroidering it on a large cloth, pale purple on cream Brazillian cotton. When I presented it to Marcia, people gathered on the street to read it, nodding in appreciation that she was the recipient of an ode.

That was in December, and a few days later, the day I was flying home, I stopped by to say my farewells to Marcia. This time, she had made me a scarf, concerned that I was leaving the summer of Rio for the winter of Oregon. I wore that scarf home.

Odes for Strangers as Friends

Odes to other people are acknowledgements, celebrations, efforts to see each other. I have an ongoing ode that I create through conversations with people, one line for each person that incorporates their line. I started this by inhabiting my exhibit at the Cascade Gallery in January and February of 2015.