This little black onyx heart reminds me of the durability of stone(s) in cataclysmic times. Onyx represents optimism, protection and flintiness – meanings that seem particularly poignant to the female body.
I designed these for my advisor before I left UC Davis. He has two brilliant daughters—one who is six, the other is eight. We miss a coffee date because the youngest daughter is sick. Turns out she doesn’t want to go to school; in the process, she incurred a stomachache. Over a beer (he gets chai), we talk about how she might be psychosomatic.
I ask why he thinks so. He says, “She feels ostracized from other students because they started the Spanish immersion program much sooner than her. She also feels that it is unfair how they bully other kids.”
What is it about the female capacity to shoulder other people’s pain? I don’t think this is always gendered, but socially and conventionally we’re steered towards empathy—often at the cost of our own wellbeing. For example, little Chloe taking ill because she cannot (literally) stomach the injustice she perceives. But this is not the same as being a martyr (a privilege reserved for subjects who represent a country or nationality). Rather, hers is a illness…she is stricken by empathy.
Why can children (or non-privileged subjects) only be invalids? The only response I can think of is to make these two necklaces. On days when one needs fortitude, this necklace stands sentry over the heart (at 20″, it rests over the chest). Polished smooth, it looks like a seal’s sleek back as it pulls itself onto shore after a long swim. Or the underside of a raven’s wing, the back of a black cat as it glides past; they are animals that these girls hopefully value, despite their silly associations with bad luck or morose poets.
Black is powerful, black is beautiful. Black onyx is forevermore.