Healing with Weaving

Healing with Weaving by Debbie Barrett-Jones

Woven textiles and fine art prints for homes, hospitals, counseling facilitates and places of worship that inspires Hope, Harmony & Healing

My Story 

A little background about me. When I was young, I really struggled with finding my own identity. I didn't have much confidence being the fourth child of five, I constantly compared myself to my brothers and sisters. I always loved working with my hands making "crafts" but I didn't take myself too seriously.  I knew two things about myself, I loved being creative and I had a huge desire to help people.

So, later after graduating from high school, I stopped being creative. I didn't have any confidence in my artist abilities and knew it was time to become serious about a career. At 21 years old and engaged to my husband, I thought nursing was the perfect profession for me. I remember how proud my parents, family, and friends were when I talked about it. I was so proud of myself. My heart was set on the idea that I wanted to help bring comfort and healing to those that were sick in a hospital setting.

I got all A's in my prerequisites and I was confident in my decision. Well, I wasn't planned for the horrible feelings I had for four whole weeks when I started the nursing program. Every day I had this terrible, almost physical feeling in my stomach that I was in the wrong place. I was so confused. Many tears of shame and failure came in those weeks, knowing I had to quit the program and give up my "dream". 

After quitting the program I was clueless about what was next. Brandon and I got married and I landed a job at a decorating store helping people with their color choices. That is when everything changed for me. I found new hope in working with color. I started studying the color charts and finding life and energy in colors. Because I always loved making things, I started taking some of the color sample paper home, cutting the colored paper into small pieces and making collages and mosaics.

For a more than a year, I worked with paper. In 2002, my sister was just finishing up her BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute and she started noticing what I was making and encouraged me to apply to KCAI. I thought she was crazy but because I really had nothing to loose, I decided to go for it. I was surprised to get excepted and was offered scholarships with a portfolio filled with these paper mosaics. I was shocked. 

So in 2003, my husband and I moved from a small town in Iowa to KC.  I started art school. I didn't believe too much in my abilities because all we did the first semester was draw but instead of having that horrible feeling that I was in the wrong place while pursuing nursing, I had a peaceful feeling that I was in the right place. At the end of freshman year, we had to choose a departed to major in. I choose the fiber department just because I thought I wanted to learn how to sew. On the first day of my sophomore year, I was put into the weaving group. When I stepped into the room with all the looms and yarn, I just had that amazing feeling and confidence, I was in the right place. I was hooked to weaving from that day on.

 I received my first commission from Community Christian Church on the Plaza at the end of my first semester of weaving. And thankfully my second commission from them right after graduating, (with a 4-month-old baby) that paid for my loom that I have worked from since these past 7 years.

Fast forward to four years ago when I got selected to make a piece for the new Lisa Barth Interfaith Chapel that was being built at Children's Mercy Hospital dedicated to a wonderful and caring nurse, Lisa Barth. This came at a time when I was really doubting being an artist. We have two children, it can be extremely hard to pay the bills every month. I wasn't sure if I was good enough make a living. Along with those doubts, I was also grieving a miscarriage loss. I found a lot of healing came from making the three woven textiles for this space.  For a whole year, I was given update reports on this beautiful chapel along with images of different artwork that was selected along with mine. I few months before the opening I was kind of shocked to find out that my piece was not going to be in the actual chapel but was to be placed in a side room by itself. I was little confused and had some sense of failure that my work wasn't good enough for their space. Silly....I know.

On my tour of the new chapel, I was led through the gorgeous space and at the end, I was brought to their "family room".  This room was the only room in the hospital that was converted into a hospice room. Family and friends could spend their last precious moments with their little loved ones before they passed. At that moment, I had little flashes of my life for the past 12 years. I remembered that great desire to become a nurse because I wanted to help bring comfort and healing to those that were hurting. And I remembered the great sense of shame and failure I had when giving up that dream. Those feelings crept up in life for years. And here I was, years later doing the thing I wanted but in the right way, making art. I was humbled, speechless, in awe and was so incredibly thankful. Many, many times after this, I have doubted being an artist, mainly because it's hard to pay the bills. I have wondered if it is worth all the work and stress of waiting for the next art purchase. But when I have my doubts, I remember the Children's Mercy commission and am reminded that is what I know I was made to do. I know I want to live my life being creative and helping others together. 

Since working with textiles in the last ten years I have had many stories like this. The process and the act of actually sitting at my loom and weaving have been a gift of healing to me in so many ways. It has helped me process and heal from loss, deal with health issues and chronic pain along with anxiety. Every day I get to sit at my loom is not only an act of creativity but is also therapeutic. Soon I will be sharing more of those stories on my Healing with Weaving page.  

I love with all my being, to create. I desire to make work that is beautiful, genuine, thoughtful and inspiring. I am passionate and grateful for each day I get to be in my studio. Each day is a gift from God and I want to live out my passion for being creative and helping others every day of my life. My dream is to continue to make artwork for both hospitals and mental health and counseling facilities along with places of worship like churches. 

Please follow my website, blog and Facebook for updates on Healing with Weaving. Right now it is in the beginning stages. If you would like to help support my passion and mission through a helpful supportive message or a cash donation specifically for Healing with Weaving, please contact me through my website with the subject, Healing with Weaving.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for all your support. I look forward to following this path with Weaving with Healing. I will keep you updated along the way. And a special thank you for all those who have supported my making journey, my dear husband, family, friends, collectors, customers and those that I have never met but have followed my work on social media and online. To you, I am forever thankful for. With your support, I am encouraged to be creative every day.

Down below are a few other links that are special to me. 

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