Mirror mirror on the wall
You’re positioned too low, I’m much too tall
Mirror mirror in my hand
I can only see my nose, a mere fraction of who I am
Mirror mirror in my heart
How to know even where to start
Mirror mirror in my mind
Reveal all the things my eyes will never find
Inspired by one of the most extraordinary and exquisite human being Women I know, I made this mirror. It is a hand mirror. It was made with love, shards of coloured glass, backboard, rusted circular washers and grout. Created out of a desire, dream and vision for what mirrors can be. I have always felt that we, as people, are reflectors of and to each other, holding “mirrors” up to one another in order to see sides of ourselves we cannot see alone. If you have ever held a mirror and tried to see the back of your head, you will know what I mean; you need another mirror, or a different angle, or a few more arms and hands ie it is impossible. In relation, we get to see some of each of our many thousand faces, and to reflect that back to ourselves and each other.
Making this mirror, so steeped in meaning, I thought about the relationship many women have with mirrors. I cannot speak for the relationship men have with them, though I invite courageous men to share. Women, largely, want to look beautiful, however they have chosen to define the word beautiful. Looking for beauty in a mirror can be a profoundly healing or a rather wounding activity, depending on the perspective. This piece spoke to me clearly about how there is so much more to an individual than what we perceive to be reflecting back at us in any mirror. Here, the mirror shard is only one of many. Here, the mirror shard only could show part of a person. The coloured glass is expansive, beautiful and creates for me a sense of freedom and movement outward from the centre, alluding to growth beyond borders, to stretching, to liberation, to inspiration. If only women (and men) would look in the mirror and see everything that we could be, everything that cannot be seen in mirrors alone, everything we are that is intangible and makes us uniquely ourselves. The growing glowing golden light that belongs to us, and to us alone.
Alas, it is impossible. And for this reason and countless others, a mirror has its place but it is limited. Community and social relationships are essential, because glass mirrors can never reflect back what human mirrors can. All those magnificent angles, hidden curves and coves, glowing golden lights, throbbing colours, bursting sunrises, warm summer evenings, broken edges, brave vulnerabilities and secret chinks in our armour. Whose to say the branches reflected in that mirror aren’t me, aren’t you, aren’t us connected like dendrites through these words? Could mirrors not be about connection more than reflection, about relation with what is seen versus exploration and curiosity about what is not? What if mirrors were about what we couldn’t see? What do we actually see in our mirrors, versus what we think we should see, or think we should want to see? What could we do with all that extra time one may waste thinking about what we think we should look like in the mirror and focus it on being who we want to be in the world? What kind of mirror are we to others, do we pick up on their light and true colours, or do we reflect other parts? Can we not be more playful with our mirrors, allowing them to just swing from fascinating to functional, from useful to entirely useless in an instant? Are we brave enough to see beyond the mirror, and to be seen beyond the mirror?