A textile artist born during forced segregation in South Africa, Igshaan Adams’ enmeshed designs may be interpreted to represent familial relationships and generational trauma amidst socio-political discrimination. His art pays tribute to “gaps,” or invisible spaces in his work. Using beads, shells, glass, rope, wire, and “found objects,” his weavings pulse with meaning. One three-dimensional installation has lead pipes piercing both the weaving and the surrounding air. Is the weaving a sheltering tent…or a flimsy cover-up for truth?
Adams’ recent exhibition is entitled “Desire Lines” which he intends as a metaphor for weaving an individual’s life roadways into a merging collective with others’ paths. Underlying Adams’ work is a poignant probe: “How would you treat someone differently if you knew everything about them? Or nothing?”
We do not know very much about other people. Perhaps we cannot grasp the meaning of another’s life because they never share their innermost angst with anyone. Is it because they deem their experiences as unacceptable? Perhaps they do not want to hear imagined criticism from others: “Really? You did what?”
What if we knew the ACE’s score of everybody? ACE’s stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, a 10-question survey about traumatic challenges that a child may experience before age 18. The questions do not mince words: Did you…lack protection as a child (including not having enough food to eat); …lose a parent through divorce, abandonment or death; …live with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill, or attempted suicide? Did anyone in the family have a problem with drinking/drugs; did anyone go to jail or prison? Did your parents… ever hit, beat, or threaten each other; …ever swear at you or put you down; …ever hit, beat, or physically hurt you? Did you feel that no one in your family loved you? Did you experience unwanted sexual contact?
Perhaps you will take the survey: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/
Robert Anda, M.D., from CDC, in partnership with Vincent Felitti, M.D., from Kaiser Permanente (California), conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences study which linked childhood trauma with increased health/social problems across adulthood. The amount of personal suffering found in the initial population of 17,000 adults taking the survey surprised the co-authors, as participants were mostly middle and upper-middle class with college educations. They lived in California with good jobs and health care benefits.
Yet, 87% of the participants reported 1+ traumatizing childhood experiences. The research uncovered tragic numbers of child abuse. As one’s ACE score increases, the risk of disease, social and emotional problems can escalate. For example, ACE scores of 4+ link to a likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increasing 390%; depression increasing 460%; or attempted suicide increasing 1,220%.
Poet Maya Angelou weaves trauma into beauty through words: “…prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you….”
Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:
70. What did you endure as a child?
71. In what ways do you share your invisible stories?