I was so touched by the story of crochet artist Odia Reimer as soon as I read about the current Canadian exhibit of some of her work. The multi-media exhibit, titled INDESCRIBABLE: It Is About Murder features pieces that Odia and her father created in memory of Odia’s sister who was murdered on her way home from school nearly thirty years ago but whose killer was only convicted about one year ago.
About the Tragedy
Candace Derksen was thirteen years old in 1984 when she disappeared one day on her way home from school. It took six weeks for authorities to find her dead body in a shed at a construction site. It wasn’t until 2007, thanks to advances in DNA technology, that the killer was caught and went to trial. Mark Edward Grant was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in 2009. It took until 2011 for the trial to be over; he was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
About the Exhibit
There is an exhibit being shown at the Mennonite Heritage Church Gallery at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnpieg. The show opened in late January and continues through mid-March. It includes Reimer’s crochet art as well as some of her photography. The Winnipeg Free Press explains that a large photo series traces Candace’s walk home the day that she was killed. Reimer’s art is supplemented by her father’s art. Cliff Derksen did sketches during the trial convicting Candace’s killer and those are on display along with some of his sculpture work. The exhibit also includes additional sketch work from a 15-year-old girl whose brother was murdered in 2003 by a baseball bat beating.
Odia Reimer’s Crochet Art
In the newsletter for the exhibit, Odia Reimer’s artist statement says:
“My work is about repetition. Over and over we experience very personal and private events that are outside our control, of which within their very nature make it hard to express to the world outside ourselves. Every time they happen we are reminded of disappointments, longings, hurts, and inadequacies that solidify the feeling that we often do not have what we long for most. Through form, texture, and scale I compulsively explore these moments.”
Reimer is an installation artist so she has three large installation pieces for this show, designed to reflect the different stages that the family went through as they made their way through this tragedy.
The big piece that I keep seeing mentioned online is a pieced called Seventy Times Seven that consists of 490 crocheted teardrops. There is a full, interesting story about this crochet project by Odia and Candace’s mother here.
The Winnipeg Free Press also says that there are “Rorschach-like, multi-coloured flat circles” on display, which Odia crocheted during the trial but I haven’t been able to find any images of that work yet. Jednak, The Winnipeg Sun did offer a better description: “With three colours of wool — cream for positive emotions, red for pain, and black for anger – Reimer spent every hour of the trial crocheting circles to represent her feelings.” There are twenty seven circles, one for each day of the trial.
Crochet Art as Therapy
CBC Manitoba has some great insight into crochet art as part of the therapeutic process from artist Odia Reimer herself. I encourage you to read her words in that article, which begin with …
“There are some things in my life that I choose, and then there are some things that have chosen me, creativity is one that has chosen me. It pushes and pushes, its a moving force that I just can’t stop. If I am not creating actual art, I am usually doing something else, always moving, always thinking of what I can make next. It’s when I stop that I start to worry.”
I personally believe that crochet (whether you consider your work to be art or not) can be very soothing and healing during stressful times. I can see how it would help reduce anxiety for Odia while sitting at her sister’s killer’s trial, na przykład. And I would imagine that the repetition of crocheting nearly 500 teardrops was soothing and healing in its own way.
How has crochet helped you through a tough time?