Friday, August 19, 2011


I would like to share this little story about someone that has been very special and instrumental in my creative process, that is my cousin Sereta.
It has taken a while for me to piece this together because you see my cousin passed away a few years ago. I still think about her and the ways she influenced my life.
For one thing Sereta was very tall (about 6 feet) and when I walked next to her I never felt short, I felt proud and as tall as she.  I would have to walk, all most run to keep up with her.  She would say, "hold up your head and suck in your belly, walk from heel to toe and you will be able to walk all up and down these hills" we was living in Oakland, California at the time and did a lot of walking in San Francisco.  Anyway back to the story I wanted to tell.
When Sereta and I was growing up, she lived with her grandparents, and in the Summer when I would go visit my grandmother, who by the way was Sereta's grandmother's twin and lived in walking distance of each other, I would spend hours at Sereta's and we would make dolls out of sticks and dress them in leaves.  Sereta was so creative and she could make a rock look like the best thing in the world to play with.
Sereta always had the most interesting items in her room, whether it was a rock she found or a stick doll she made and dressed in a magnolia leaf.  One thing she did is collect boxes, all kinds of boxes and some she decorated and embellished with ribbons and shells or small rocks. I loved to go into her room and open the boxes and look inside and see what little surprises she had hidden inside them.  Sometimes it would be a rock, a piece of candy, a bead, or a feather she found laying in the yard. Once I was visiting Sereta and there was one box that she had decorated and it was sitting on the dresser and of course I went straight for the box to see what was inside. She said "nooooo that box is special and you cannot look inside, that is my special box". Well that peeked my imagination and my curiosity, I just could not imagine what was in that box that "I" was not to open. Every time I visited Sereta I wanted to look in that box. And it became more intriguing as the Summer went by. Well Sereta never let me look in that box. She knew that I was intrigued by the box and  she kept me guessing about it's contents.
Years later after years of being separated from my favorite cousin and many boxes later ( you see I started a collection of my own) I was able to ask her about that box and what she had in it that I could not see.  She said "magic stuff" and "you didn't know that I was magic did you?"  I never got to know what was in that box but I still think about it and sometimes I think " a box full of rocks probably" or "feathers" I'll never know for sure but it keeps my creativity flowing. When you come to my sewing room you will find that I too have a lot of interesting boxes in my collection hoping to peek someone else's creative nature and curiosity.
Just before my cousin went home I was able to go to California and visit her, and while there she handed me a beautiful round box that I still have.  I still don't know what was in that box.  But I will let you guess what is in this one.
This is the box that Sereta gave me. It is very special to me.

I have started creating boxes also. Here are two boxes that will be available for sale in my Etsy Shop. I think that boxes intrigue me because they have tops on them and you always wonder what is inside them.  Some are just plain shoe boxes. Some boxes have jewels on them.  But one thing for sure, when you see a box sitting on a table or a dresser, you want to open them up and see what is inside, but sometimes it is better to just look at them and wonder. Set one of these boxes on your coffee table, end table, or your dresser and watch the curiosity of your guests.

Made with muddcloth and leather these boxes are embellished with beads and shells and are very sturdy, you can also use them as gift boxes for that special gift. Or just keep someone's curiosity going.


Anonymous said...

Dearest cousin Stormee,
Your touching story of your cousin is a piece of art in itself. Thank you for taking the time to express. Very thoughtful! She surely knew how to turn anything into art. The women made screamin tofu burgers!!!!!! Who does that??

Your creative mud-cloth boxes show the richness of African heritage. I can see how you both are related by the work (smile). Sereta often used beads, shells and mudcloth for her ancestral assemblage work.

I am so proud to see it in your work.

8/25th is near us and the day Sereta made her transition but her legacy is voiced, honored daily and will continue as long as I am breathing (smile). So true, she is "magic"!!

I hope it is ok to post your story on her memorial website.

I am very proud of you. Your Art reflects you - You are gentleness, to the "T"!!
Peace, Art & Love

Marion said...

Doreen, what a beautiful story! Reading this only makes the beautiful box you gave me several years ago, only more precious. Thank you again. It may have to go on my coffee table!