Updated: Sep 2, 2020
In the fall of 2009, I was officially burnt out from working almost a decade as a designer in the fashion industry. I went to school for fashion design because I loved the art of clothing design. I did really love my career and it gave me a great sense of satisfaction being a part of a team and creating beautiful things that made people feel good, at least that was the hope. The work was fast paced, non-stop and certainly never boring. I had tried to leave years before, but got sucked back into it as the last company I worked for seemed different and let’s be honest, the money was good.
After getting hit by a bus running a red light in downtown Los Angeles, that was the beginning of the end. As I was on my frantic morning bike ride to the commuter express bus, my front wheel just barely got hit as the bus swerved out of the way to try to miss me. My bike got knocked over and in a state of shock and denial I picked it up and kept riding and waved to the bus driver that I was ok. After I loaded my bike on the front of the commuter bus, I took my seat, barely making it in time. As I sat down, tears came flooding from my eyes. I had nearly gotten killed.
In a moment of desperation, I pulled my Bible out of my backpack and did the random “open the word to wherever” move and landed on Haggai chapter 1.
“Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it…...what you brought home, I blew away. Why? Declares the Lord Almighty. Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house…...then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.”
My mind, body and soul was tired. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. When I was in India staying at a fancy hotel and spending long days in an office building finishing our collection, my heart longed to be with the people. My life as a designer felt so meaningless obsessing over things like what button to choose for a shirt and designing more stuff for rich people who don’t need more stuff. It was heartbreaking witnessing the extreme poverty of Mumbai especially. Families with small children were literally sleeping and bathing in gutters everywhere. I finally told Billy, I’d like to quit my job and take a break and just make art for a while. He was going to Cal Arts at that time and my income was what was supporting us. We had some savings and so being the amazing supportive husband he always has been, he said go for it.
I had no plan. I just began to draw and listen to the audio Bible. I loved drawing and being creative but hadn’t ever really made art. My job as a designer was creative for me, but this was a new direction. In this process I had the thought, “I wonder if there’s more for me in my healing journey that I can experience through the process of making art?”
It had been nearly 8 years since I had completed the Forgiven and Set Free class with other women who had also had abortions. God did a mighty healing work in me through that class and I felt healed on many levels. It also had been about two years since I had two large uterine fibroids surgically removed which I believe was also part of God’s plan for me to heal from past physical trauma related to my abortion experience. I ended up drawing the actual size of an 8 week old fetus, which was about 2” long. As I drew and contemplated, I ended up drawing a sort of landscape with a bunch of fetuses all sort of floating in an upward direction. I wondered if I could see another realm, would I actually see these souls ascending and what might that look like? I then wondered how many abortions occur in one day. I did a google search and the number I found was 3700 in the United States alone. A small, quiet voice inside me said, “make that”.
Six years later, Emma Hope was completed. I spent the first 3 years tracing and cutting out the 2” fetuses, one by one, treating each one as an individual. I spent the next 3 years sewing the background panels and then sewed each fetus on by hand. The background panels are composed layer upon layer of scraps of fabric from a designer in Los Angeles who was going to throw the scraps away. The piece is composed of 10 panels and when all put together the piece is 28 feet long.
I struggled with what to call this piece as my working title for so many years was the 3700 project. When it was completed I felt that it needed a name that truly encapsulated the spirit and intention of this piece. When a statistic number is used, especially in regards to such a divisive & politically charged topic as abortion, then that becomes the focus. The focus of this piece for me was clearly to seek intentional inner healing from my own inner abortion experience, and more specifically mourn the loss of my first child, Emma Hope. An important part of the healing process of Forgiven and Set Free is to prayerfully discern if you feel led to give your lost child a name. When this came up my first response was like, “I have no idea- the baby was only 8 weeks old.” As I went through the process of praying over this I felt the Lord speak that it was a girl and so I chose the name Emma Hope. (Emma means beloved and Hope is for the hope that I will someday see her face to face) This was extremely private information for me and I had no intention of sharing it with anyone because I think deep down I wasn’t sure if I just made it up to make myself feel better. Here’s the kicker…….so when Billy and I were first dating and starting to fall in love, one day he told me his mom had a miscarriage and that his sister gave the baby the name Emma Faith. WHAT??? My face flushed and my heart started beating fast and I sat in shock for a moment. Ok, so I guess my plans of keeping that name secret are over. Of course I told Billy about the name and the verse that immediately came to us was 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We were blown away.
Looking back now, I am amazed that this was the first art piece I made in my transition from being a fashion designer to the world of art making. I have to remind myself that the sole purpose of creating work was to commune with the Creator, to seek healing for myself and for the world, and I was able to do that through prayer, listening to the word, and moving my hands.
During the 6 years of making this piece I was honored to spend countless hours praying for men and women all over the world that have lost children due to abortion. I’ll never know the impact of those prayers here on earth, but maybe someday I will in heaven. For the three years that I traced and cut out the 3700 fetuses I listened to an audio Bible program that was not consecutive but had a method of skipping around the Bible. I cannot explain how this happened, but with God as my witness…..after 3 years of the repetitive, tedious motions of tracing and cutting the little 2” fetuses, as I cut out the final 3700th fetus, the exact scripture I heard from my speaker was 1 Corinthians 13:13…”faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love”.