* * * PUBLISHED * * * Artist feature in Stitchillo, a brand new book in a series called 'Encyclopedia of Inspiration' from UPPERCASE (click to link)
* * * EXHIBITION * * * Homeland: A Collection of Prairie Threadpaintings by Monika Kinner-Whalen. Kathy Theissen Gallery in Rosthern SK. July & August 2017 Reception 10 am to noon on Saturday, July 15, 2017 Station Arts
* * * MANITOBA * * *
Sept 2 & 3 Vendor - Proutopia
Sept 9 &10 Teaching - Sketch to Stitch / Runs with Scissors Studio
Sept 15 & 16 Vendor - Manitoba Fibre Festival, Red River Exhibition Park

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Monday, 20 June 2011


This weekend I was visited by a relative I had only met once before, at a recent family funeral.  Her name is Steffi.  The odd thing is that she lives in Calgary - where I was for ten years.  I had no idea I had relatives in Calgary.  I moved back to Saskatoon 4 years ago, only to find I have relatives five houses up the street from us.  That relative is her sister.  So Steffi and I met up at the funeral of their father (my great uncle Fritz, an artist from Germany) for the first time.  It was strange going to the funeral that day, knowing that I would meet many 'strangers' that I could call family.  When I saw Steffi, it was weird!  I don't know if it was her eyes, or the shape of her face... but something about her was so familiar to what I see in the mirror every day.  She said the same thing.  How amazing for family members to immigrate to a new country, spread out, and generations later find that we live on the same street!? 

a mother's memorial in the sand (from their website)

Steffi came to my city again this weekend with a bag of clothing that she wants made into a memory quilt.  It is the clothing of her son who was beaten to death eight years ago.  His name is Aaron, and he is my cousin.  I never met him - I didn't even know I had all these cousins!  I never knew the story until recently.  He intervened in a fight outside of a night club, was kicked nearly to death, and died days later from hi injuries.  The people who murdered him were never brought to justice.  No witnesses will talk.  Isn't that horribly tragic!?  Steffi now organizes "Walk for Justice" with many other mother's who have lost their children to violent murders that remain 'unsolved'.  (link below)

Aaron, Superman.  Photo from his memorial site.

Here am I now, with a bag of his clothing.  His mother grieves so deeply still.  This will be a very special keepsake for her - something to hold, something to hug.  She's knows I won't get to this project for a while... but it's one I am honored to do.  It's a heartbreaker.  I'll be putting his baby pictures on it, poems from his mother, and it will be made entirely from his clothing. She said I could share all this in my blog, so this post is the beginning.

You can read about his story here:  Walk For Justice

And for such a heavy topic, I don't even know how to end this post.  So for now I'll just say, 'to be continued'...  I know this quilt is something she really wants and needs, so I truly look forward to the day I can hand the completed project back to her.  You can bet it will bring out lots of tears.



Poppyprint said...

That is definitely a heartbreaker. Although tragic, it is going to be a wonderful way to bring you close to your 'new' family. Good luck with this challenging project, Monika.

diane said...

Heartbreaking for sure. I recently made a quilt of the same nature for my best friend's sister, who was killed in a car accident. She gave it to her sister on the 5th anniversary of his death and it was a complete surprise. Her sis didn't even know we had the clothes. Needless to say it is a treasured quilt. You are a very special person to do this for your cousin.

Annabella said...

Oh my goodness, I have tears in my eyes already. What an amazing thing to do and you`ll make such a perfect quilt for Aaron`s mum.

Woman Waiting in the Seams said...

Interesting that u mention emigrants from Germany. When my grandma's brother died in 2000, a gent from Australia contacted us due to the rare surname. He sent a photo of himself & his family, upon which I instantly knew we were related. When he flew to Iowa, my cousins asked if they should take a sign to hold up at the airport. No need, I said. Cousin thought it was his dad come back to life! The Aussie brought a copy of the same photo I have of my ggf who was his gf's brother. My ggf was a musician from Saltzgitter-Bad Germany (town also known as the home of Klezmer). Oldest & youngest brothers had gone to Iowa & Australia in mid 1800's.

LynCC said...

What a bag of mixed emotions you must have felt - meeting new cousins, but hearing such a painful story. I know you will craft an incredible memory quilt for Aaron. What a nice tribute to Aaron, too, to watch his memorial emerge over time.

Vicki W said...

I have made 3 memorial quilts and I can tell you that they are difficult for the maker too. Give yourself enough time to let the fabrics talk to you. Because they do! So glad you found this family so that you can help them out.

Wilton Art said...

Monika I wish a prayer into you so you can create what you are intended to do by HIS hand and that it brings a moments peace to another soul.

Meg in Nelson said...

Ah, a quilt to hug her whenever she needs a loving hug - not just from her sun but from you as well. Lovely. I suspect, in the end, it will not be a sad quilt at all, but a happy one full of memories, for her and for you.

Anonymous said...

Words escape me.
I have a lump in my throat and goosebumps all over.
What a blessing for you and Steffi to have found each other.

Margaret said...

Oh, Monika! What a blessing of joy mingled with sorrow! Never fear; justice will be done, even if it is not this side of Heaven. I trust you will enfold a prayer in every piece, in every stitch, and that she who mourns will be comforted.

Nicki said...

Monika, this story is difficult to comprehend- it isn't often that we are confronted with such darkness in reality (maybe on t.v. or in movies). Both my husband and a male cousin have been attacked in unprovoked (separate) incidences and I am fully aware how lucky my family was that neither had the grave outcome that your cousin has now been left with. You will do a beautiful job of this quilt and when it is finished I hope it brings peace to Steffi.

kimberlee P said...

Oh, that just breaks my heart! How horrible. Yet, how great that Steffi is doing something with that pain, blessing others who are familiar with the same heartbreak. God bless her.

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