Anna Peach installing Spirit House at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, photo courtesy JMKAC
On January 12, 2007 I traveled from Zurich to Chicago to keep a promise to the Hamakua community. The purpose of the trip was to bring the artwork ‘Spirit House’ to The John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin where it would be displayed in the exhibition tilted, Laced With History, curated by Lena Vinga. The artwork was created from over 600 pieces of handmade lace that were sewn together to form a gown that also included a chapel like interior space. I worked on the piece for over two years in my Honoka’a studio and when it outgrew the space, it was my promise to take it around the world.
I explained that the point was not to make a dress, but rather something that brought us together, to find some common thread that made a sanctuary for all from the shared act of labor. I found that there are times when you are so close to your own truth that you can only see it through others, and it is through others that I see this piece: I see the tailor who sewed in my studio 75 years before me, the elders who clutched my hand and spoke of mana, the little girl who sang songs in Hawaiian while peaking out from the inside of the dress, and the childhood friends now grown that would gather beneath the hem to tell stories of a shared life. This piece is theirs more than my own. I am content to be the one who was learning how to sew, and along the way I was learning how to listen. With that I was presented with the most elaborately garnished meal that I had ever seen and thumbs up sign from the cook. Three snow angels later I retired to bed relieved that a very special promise had been kept.