JoCo woman used art to find another purpose in life
Posted on Jul. 16th, 2013
OLATHE, KAN. —- Michelle Gressel of Gardner, Kansas created The Torn Edge in 2010 in search of an authentic, transparent and purposeful way of life.
The art pieces began simply enough – as thank you gifts to her kids’ teachers – but the torn scraps of paper matured into something more meaningful in time.
For her first series, she wrote down words on scraps of paper – Love, Soul, Strength. Mind – but had no idea what to make of them.
That is, until her mother-in-law decoded it for her.
“It was Luke 10:27 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
The end of the verse convicted Gressel, because she realized that to truly love others she must first love herself – broken parts and all.
From there, Gressel discovered her art offered a metaphor for brokenness and healing. By laying down the torn edges of her past, something far greater emerged from the dysfunctional pieces.
“No friend, no car, no athletic club membership could heal the broken parts in me,” Gressel said. “I had to turn those over to God and let Him repurpose them for the road ahead.”
The Torn Edge set her on a journey, not only of self-acceptance, but to help others accept themselves.
She began sharing her story of repurposed life with everyone from churchgoers to inmates, learning that no matter the audience, the things that hold us back are the same.
Gressel views her art not in terms of any talent she possesses, but in terms of the friendships she cultivates in the creative process.
“Those friendships,” she said, “are more valuable materials to the finished work than any paper, any metal, any paint or any canvas.”
Although her friends and family greatly contribute to the finished artwork – from tearing paper to cutting metal to finding scraps of wood on the side of the road – their efforts may go unnoticed by the average person.
But just as Hemingway compared his writing to an iceberg – where 7/8ths of the story lies beneath – so it is with The Torn Edge. Many unseen hearts share authentic pieces to make each creation perfect in its own way.
The sunflower logo of The Torn Edge beautifully illustrates this point: Gressel is the heart at the center of the sunflower, her friends the petals radiating out. As she shares her story, more people will share their stories, and the gift goes on.
As it does, new hearts will spring up and more petals radiate out, until what began as a story of brokenness blooms into a field of flowers.
Michelle is currently available for a wide variety of commissioned projects.
She uniquely crafts small to medium sized pieces all the way to large donor recognition walls.
For more information about Gressel and The Torn Edge, go to www.thetornedge.com or www.facebook.com/thetornedge.