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God's eye artwork helps maker
work out problems

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placeholder November 10, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 19   •   Oakland, CA
Senior Living & Resources

Mary Johnson tells the stories behind the collection of God's eyes, the art she learned to make at St. Mary's Center in Oakland.

God's eye artwork helps maker work out problems

Mary Johnson first came to St. Mary's Center in support of her sister, who was attending a program there.

But Johnson unexpectedly found a community there, in her own West Oakland home neighborhood, and is enlivening her surroundings with colorful art.

"I'm touched by the troubles of our world," Johnson told a group of about 100 seniors gathered Oct. 23 to observe the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. "I want to be of help to alleviate suffering."

When she is working on a problem, her hands are busy. In the very room at St. Mary's Center where she was speaking, she had learned new art form just months before.

A God's eye is created by wrapping yarn around two wooden sticks, often in the shape of a cross. Johnson learned the craft from Nancy Tyler, who leads a needlework circle at the center. Now Johnson leads a class once a week, passing the craft on to others.

In front of a room divider on which a dozen of her artworks were displayed, Johnson told the audience about each one.

The first, of earth-tone yarns, represented the Earth, She moved to a second. "Peace," she declared.

She paused before a silver and black design. "Of course, we know the colors of the Raiders," she said with a broad smile, which was met with a cheer from the audience.

She introduced a God's eye made with soft, pastel yarns as, "This is love, love, love."

Each one is different, Johnson said. "How I did it, I'll never know."

She drew the audience's attention to a large God's eye with one rough edge. "I had a problem that really needed to be solved," she said, pointing out the uneven, ruffled edge. "I needed to work it out with my fingers."

The God's eye, she noted, finished smoothly. Problem solved.

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