My (Un)Comfort Zone
Chicken wire, fencing wire, safety pins, newspaper, fabric, ribbon, spray paint, crochet squares, zip ties, 35x47x68" (bed)
When I think of home, I think of a place where one is most comfortable and safe. Often thoughts of home are associated with one’s bed. When I think of the warmth of my bed, I think of clean sheets and a warm duvet: a place of comfort where one lays one’s head to rest at the end of the day.
The luxury of a bed eludes many in the United States, even this very evening. Immigrants, the homeless, and many others in our midst have neither security nor access to the most basic resources many of us take for granted.
My comforter (each square stuffed with the remnants of the newspaper from which it was clipped) is my identity comforter for the bed in which I can never sleep. The center of the comforter is an afghan crocheted by my great aunt, representing the backbone of comfort and identity for me: my family.
The comforter is made of 7 inch square newspaper clippings. 7 is a significant number in my Jewish heritage. These were all clipped purposefully from both The New York Times and its counterpart in Israel, the Ha’aretz Daily.
I have been collecting clippings from these newspapers for over 5 years, though with no particular reason in mind. In making this comforter, I specifically chose clippings for their content – ensuring that they reflected social issues about which I care very deeply. Oddly, or perhaps not, the issues I chose for each square mirror each other in both languages.
Chicken wire, safety pins, newspaper? As a child growing up on a farm, one of my daily chores was to collect eggs from hundreds of chickens in chicken wired cages. The material for the structure of the mattress was extremely familiar and reminded me of my younger, rural days. And yet, materials such as these can be used to cage in other beings - and they are charged with more meaning than ever before.
In America circa 2019, a fence is a very symbolic and politically fraught issue. This bed of chicken wire held by safety pins pays homage to the many immigrants now detained behind fences. Their only crime was the pursuit of a better life.
The safety pins are a message of hope. Soon after Trump was elected, the “safety pin nation” began. Those wearing a safety pin in public sent a message to all, that immigrants are and safe with the wearer. It was and remains a movement around the country. The choice to hold the chicken wire together was a nod to that movement and to my steadfastly held values.