About the Red Series

Prior to 1998, I associated red with war and violence. Red repelled me, and it was absent from my colour vocabulary. Also, as a strawberry-blonde in a family of red heads, wearing red was taboo as it competed with our flaming crowns.

True to my roots, I like a challenge, and understanding red made it to the top of my list. A year living in Singapore (1996-1997) exposed me to red on a daily basis. A colour that held such high esteem to a culture was worthy of closer examination. I began to play with it and write about it. Inspired by ancient Japanese courting rituals, I stained fabric with menstrual blood for one year, in order to understand red from the inside out (literally). Intrigued by its power over me, I wanted to see what I could do with red, and what it would do with me.

When red crept into a series of forgiveness quilts I realized that it was worthy of its own investigation. Red has wormed its way into my everyday life: red clothes, shoes, and walls. I know now that red is more than violence, evil, and hatred; it is also courage, confidence, exhilaration, boldness and passion. In Chinese culture, red is good luck and good fortune; for the Mayan people, red symbolizes strength, energy, and the place of God in society. To Christians, red is Christ’s blood, which was shed for our salvation and grace. For us all, (red) blood is life. Red has taught me well.

Karen Thiessen
February 6, 2001