Woman With Early-Onset Dementia Embroiders What Her Brain Looks Like to Her

When we’re healthy, we don’t have to think about what is failing in our bodies. After all, part of being healthy is not having to constantly consider what is ailing us; everything is working as it should. But when someone is diagnosed with a terminal disease, they have no choice but to consider the part of their body that is in trouble—it can affect every aspect of their life. A Twitter user named Charlotte shared how her mom, who has early-onset dementia and epilepsy, thinks about her brain. Her mom used embroidery to create a visual representation of how her own brain looks to her.

The resulting piece gives color to what could be considered dark, as these are serious conditions. Charlotte’s artist mom has created sections of the brain using vibrant jewel-toned hues and a variety of stitching along with materials including beading. Together, they produce an assortment of textures. There are portions of the embroidery where threads cross over one another, while layered beads offer dimensionality to the overall design. Each section is varied—be it in color, stitching, or materials—demonstrating how parts of the brain look different but together act as one.

There is a feeling of hopefulness to this piece. While Charlotte’s mom is dealing with serious neurological issues, she appears to view her brain as a place of beauty and cherishes what she has now.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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