I want to do a follow up post to my last one from this morning. I am going to tell a little story. I realize that things of this nature can be a touchy subject...but that's ok because I think as adults we can handle touchy discussions once in a while. So here is my story:
About ten years ago or so, I was working on a very large wizard bear. I had hand soldered his staff with crystals, and he was wearing a velvet hooded cloak. He had a small leather pouch filled with wizardy type things, But I felt he was lacking something. I decided I wanted to put some beadwork on his cloak.
I didn't have just the right thing, so I went out looking for some beads. In those days what the craft shops had to offer was pretty basic. So I went to one of my favorite antique shops. They had just gotten several boxes of items from someone who had recently passed away. She had been quite a jewelry girl like myself.
I was digging through a box of her jewelry and down in the bottom I spied a necklace that had just the perfect beads on it. When I pulled it out however, it wasn't a necklace. It was a rosary.
I am not Catholic, I don't know all the ins and outs of rosaries, and it means nothing to me really. However, I understand that they are items of great importance to the person who owns them.
I have always believed it's important to respect the core beliefs of other people. Our system of morality and our religious beliefs are a very integral part of what makes us who we are. So I personally believe it's important to be respectful of those beliefs in others even if we don't agree with them or simply don't understand them. I respect the right of others to believe anything they want as long as no one is getting hurt, and I always hope they will do the same for me in return.
So I left the rosary sitting on my work table for a few days, unsure what to do. If I took it apart would I be desecrating another's faith? Finally I called a priest and asked them if it would be ok to take it apart. He told me that since the person was deceased their main blessed rosary would have been buried with them. Since this one had been given away by the family after they had passed on, it was fine to take it apart. So I went ahead and did it, but if I hadn't called him, I don't think I would have.
Now I know some of you reading this might think I was being silly and a little too cautious. But that's ok, it's just who I am. I guess I look upon these things as I would if I were an archaeologist. If I found religious relics, mummies, or skeletons from an ancient culture, I would be respectful of what they are and how I treated them. I don't think recent people and cultures deserve any less respect.
Conversely, I had a friend years ago who told me a story about another friend she had who made a cross out of Barbie arms and legs and had it above her bed. (She couldn't understand why she couldn't keep a boyfriend either...I think I might have an idea why. *Giggles*) Now while I find that bizarre and a tad creepy, it's not really offensive to me. I am sure some people might find it so, but it was just an expression of her art, and she is welcome to it. Barbie isn't a real person or a religious artifact though.
I am not saying you shouldn't use old photos, articles, or even Barbie limbs in your pieces. I just think it's important to think about what you're doing and the person they belonged to before you incorporate them into a piece. I am well aware not everyone shares this view...and I respect your right not to!