• P.M. Neist

#51 Safe travel


We treated ourselves to the better "Premium Economy" seats on our flight to and from France. As part of that deal, we were handed little pouches with toothbrushes, single-serve tubes of toothpaste, eyeshades, earplugs and pairs of tube socks. Each way. Four pouches between the two of us. That was a lot of swag to have to deal with so I decided to up-cycle three of the pouches.

As it turned out, our fifteen-month-old granddaughter and her parents were also part of this trip. This was Stella's first long flight. She has her own backpack, iPad and headphones, her snacks, diapers, change of clothes and countless forms of entertainment We never let Stella out of our sight. We also assumed that everything would turn out perfectly o.k. and that she would eventually return home to her own lovely room and her daycare class.

But there are so many fifteen-month-old children who are making very different journeys right now. Every day, children of immigrant and displaced parents are being transported from one dangerous place to another. Some children end up drowned or killed. Many are sick. Others are trafficked or incarcerated.

Years ago, my cousin in Northern France received a call asking her to come and pick up the baby who would become her adopted daughter. The child was born in a hotel to an immigrant mother who had little choice but to abandon the baby. The baby is a beautiful child, with curly brown hair, lovely eyes and rosy cheeks but her birth mother's journey was harrowing and desperate.

This week's art is a commentary on the perils of traveling children. The up-cycled pouch unfolds in stages: first some scary monster eyes, then a message, then a collage that partially hides a child's face.

The work incorporates hand-embroidered lettering - silk on plastic - and appliqué collage of images printed on cotton paper. The hand-lettering is hidden when the pouch is closed. The inscription - Sans Queue Ni Tete - roughly means "I can't make heads or tails of this".

As always, the artwork serves as the illustration to a short story. Read the story here.

#upcycle #airfrance #children #childtravel #immigrant #textlileart #silk #collage #childtrafficking

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