When Darcy Brown’s church issued a call for entries for its 10th International Art Competition, almost immediately a picture came to the artist’s mind of the quilt she would create and enter.
The theme of the competition was Tell me the stories of Jesus, which explains why Darcy envisioned her art quilt’s outcome long before she figured out how to create it.
Both the process of making the quilt and the finished work represent Darcy’s unshakable faith in Jesus, especially through significant testing.
The storm that rocked Darcy, husband Fred and their family’s world began with an achy five year old seeking comfort in the middle of the night, his mom’s intuition and, significantly, only a few days notice.
In November 2010, the family was thrust into a perilous 38-month treatment odyssey to help five-year-old Ethan fight for his life.
The daily, and ordinary chaos of raising six kids — now seemingly mundane compared to what would follow — ceased. After franticly seeking answers for what seemed far more serious than a strep diagnosis, being brushed off by a specialist, some independent personal research, witnessing her son’s rapid decline, testing and confirmation, Ethan began chemotherapy for leukemia.
“I remember feeling prompted to look at [leukemia] symptoms,” said Darcy who considers herself a realist. Her aunt and cousin had leukemia. “Both my husband and I were looking for answers.”
Within days of his initial complaints about leg and neck pain, Ethan had grown very sick. He had external bruises and purple dots (Petechiae) which indicate internal bruising all over his body.
The sudden swirl of biopsies, ports, bone marrow testing leading to eventual chemo treatments took a tremendous toll on Ethan and was heart-breaking for his parents, sisters and grandparents.
Homeschooled siblings were abruptly enrolled in the neighborhood school, all business, personal and work pursuits shelved. Continual prayer, Ethan’s comfort and needs, doctors appointments, treatments replaced the distant normalcy of family life.
Looking back at Ethan’s treatment stages and subsequent recovery period, Darcy recalls life as unpredictable and a blur. “So many days are a question mark. Our [other] kids never knew who was going to be picking them up from school, if they’d see us before they went to bed,” said Darcy.
“And He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea,’Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
“The quilt has been so powerful and meaningful to me,” explains the artist-business owner-quilt maker. “I look at it several times a day. It reminds me just because there are storms looming all around us, we have to focus on what is important. We sometimes are looking at the wrong things.”
“I started with the center because that is the point,” she said, “If you put Christ at the center of your life, you can figure it out,” said Darcy. Positioning of the eye of the person in the quilt had to be painstakingly precise. “Physically she is vague, and her face stylized,” said Darcy.
It was important to the designer creator her quilt’s subject look both determined and directly into the light. Darcy wanted the light shining in and on the subject’s face.
“If Christ is in your heart and your mind, it is going to show,” she said, referencing scripture regarding Christ being imprinted in one’s heart. “Would others know he means anything to you?”
The person depicted in the quilt has light surrounding her face, it can be translated into Jesus’ light and the subject’s countenance. Also, interestingly, if one were to draw a horizontal and vertical line through the light’s center, the intersection would be the exact center of a cross.
The flower placed in the subject’s mind depicts the significance of the Vinca, a derivative of such used to treat Ethan’s leukemia. Darcy explained the healing qualities of the Rosy Periwinkle (Madagascar) for the treatment of stricken children. The quilt also contains the chemical chain of the flower.
Darcy used fabrics mostly from her stash, a large piece of muslin, scissors, glue and her machine. “I hacked fabrics and put them in value stacks, then started putting them on the muslin on the design board.”
Fortunately, though many couples encounter marital challenge during such hardship, Fred and Darcy, who courted just 3 months before tying the knot, grew closer and their faith stronger.
“God prepares us when we don’t even know we are being prepared. He will send His angels to be with us and go before us.”
“When I made the quilt it all made sense. The clouds are always around us. But you can’t walk around thinking the storm’s going to get you. There’s just so much that prepares us.”
“I didn’t ever feel like ‘why is this happening to me, to Ethan to us?'” said Darcy, “I’ve been taught through my faith to ask, ‘What am I supposed to be learning about my relationship with Jesus Christ?’ ”
The artist is resolute: “When in the thick of the storm and praying you are on a spiritual high and when things get better you tend to forget. But I still pray and I still have concern. When he gets an ear infection, I have to be talked back down.”
Now, after a year of recovery (including six months in a wheel chair) following his 38-months of treatment, Ethan is enjoying 4th grade. He’s into swimming and legos and may become an entomologist.
“Ethan started a bug club at school. His mission is to get other kids interested in insects and for everyone to be nice to bugs. He always says ‘Bugs are important.'”
Our thanks to Colorado Artist, Quilt Maker, Business Owner (Sassy Quilts), Mom & Wife Darcy Brown who created this inspiring work and shared her story.
God created, sew should we. [Creative Joy = Therapy = Undeniable Rippling Effects.] Our stories as makers are valuable. [Life is humbling. Sharing our journeys is uplifting and productive.]
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SO glad to see this article about Darcy! Her quilt is amazing! Even better than the photos can possibly portray! Until seeing it in her home, I had never even remotely considered making an art quilt. Now the only thing stopping me, at least temporarily, is the intimidation factor: Could I even hope to create something so stunning,
Janelle Jones says
Truly, photos do not do Darcy’s “…Peace Be Still” art quilt justice. It is a simply amazing. I wish more people had the opportunity to see it in person. As for you making an art quilt, I say “GO FOR IT” … Create that which you’re passionate about. I know it will be stunning … xoxo
Elaine (Laney) Judd says
Thank you for sharing this lovely story and some of the quilt processs. Both are inspiring.
Janelle Jones says
Thank you Laney. It was an honor to share this story. I’ve visited the quilt a few times. Each time I am awestruck. Darcy did an amazing job translating the message. I believe it’s message is one we can relate to … Thanks again.
beautiful story ~ beautiful quilt
Janelle Jones says
Beautiful family. Thanks Becky for reading.