Embroidered Image

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
An embroidered image of Jesus and Mary.
An embroidered image of Jesus and Mary.

When my mother was growing up in a part of rural Yugoslavia, now Kosovo, it was traditional for young girls to begin work on a sort of portfolio of embroidery and sewn objects. When you were married and moved into your husbands families house, you brought your work into your new home. My mother didn't particularly enjoy embroidery, but taught my sisters but never forced them to create their own "portfolios". She believed greater things lied ahead. All three of my sisters used the template of Mary and Jesus to practice and my mother saved the piece. My father came to America first for economic reasons, and the plan was always to come back to his wife and kids. However as tension began to rise between the Albanians who sought to become an independent nation and Serbia, the plan changed. My mother and 3 sisters were coming to America, to a new land. My mother took the embroidered image with her to bring into her new home just as she did with other pieces years ago. The image was always a reminder of our roots and traditions. However, its also come to symbolize a drastic difference in the lives of women in my family. My sisters became the first college graduates in my family and weren't tied down by expectations of being a housewife. Every time I look at the piece I realize the privilege I have as an American to go to school and educate myself. A privilege many don't have even now.

Year: 1993

– Kristina Nokaj

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant