Thursday, July 30, 2009
I liked Rhonda the minute she walked into the room. I could feel her energy and intensity. She was my last interview of the day. As with all the women, I asked why she was in prison and was a little worried when she simply stated, "Murder. That's why I'm here. Now can we talk about the quilt." However, once she started talking about her quilt, all my worries went away. The quilt is divided in two. One side show her before she was in prison and the other side is her in prison. She has found religion since being in prison. Although she does share that she always went to church even if she was also carrying a gun. She was open, honest and passionate. I also find it interesting that she too created a two-sided quilt. On the back of hers is a painting she did on canvas.
It is clear from her quilt that Rhonda has a lot of talent. It just saddens me that she was not given the opportunity to use it. Her childhood was not an easy one. I can't imagine being one of 14 kids, living in an efficiency apartment with an aunt with no air conditioning in Columbus, Ohio. Add to all that and being gay.
Rhonda was the only one who asked me questions after the interview. I truly wish we could have had more time together but then that is true of all the women. Rhonda did ask for "honest" feedback about her quilt, how to make the next one better, what I did, why doing the interviews was important to her. She was to be a preacher and I asked her why making quilts could not be a part of her mission. This made her pause and she promised to think about it. Writing this I also realize that I'm still not finished processing all that happened to me in prison or the grieving that I am doing for these women.