Mama Ursula -
Ursula was living in a cave with her children, a baby and a toddler. She had killed a rabbit with an arrow that day and was preparing it for dinner. The fire was burning and she was holding the baby while the toddler was at her legs. Suddenly, she heard a growl and turned to see the Sea Bear heading her direction. Lightning fast, Ursula put down the baby, grabbed her axe and started to fight the bear.
The battle, although it felt like forever, was quick. She took the axe and hit the Sea Bear over and over again, in the neck until the bear went down. Ursula was seriously injured as the bear had scratched her deeply on her back and hips. The wounds bled for days and between times of consciousness, she fed her children. At one point, she heard soft whines and discovered the Sea Bear cubs. They were young and starving as the Sea Bear had been trying to feed her babies. She found food in her cave and fed the cubs.
As she recovered, the Sea Bear became part of her. She marked the symbols of the Sea Bear clan on her new bear skin and fur grew out of the back of her arms and legs. She was a new Human Sea Bear, the mother to both her children and the cubs, combining both worlds.
This piece was inspired by the 1888 painting ‘Two Mothers’ from the French artist Leon Maxine Faivre, which hangs in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
The headdress and corset is made of silk that has been scorched using a technique developed by the artist. The original corset designs are stitched with two types of metallic thread with multiple layers of stitching and outlined in acrylic paint. The skirt also uses scorched silk, accentuating the toughness of Mama Ursula. Metallic threads highlight the diamond motifs along with a high sheen polyester thread for hand cross stitching of the panels. Free-motion stitching was the technique used on all of the designs.
The back has thread painted claw marks using high sheen polyester thread, metallic thread and acrylic paint, also free-motion stitched. The side ties and braided headdress tie are made of sheer organza emphasizing her femininity. Leather cording, in a variety of weights, was used in the arm and leg knotted pieces. Her jewelry, especially her interlocking Awaji knot necklace, represents the merging of the two mothers, Sea Bear and Human. All the knotting techniques were done by the artist.
Lastly, her Sea Bear fur, made of synthetic rafia, identifies her transformation into her new self.