I have 4 more cards to carve for the deck that I have spent the better part of the last 3+ months working on. I am so in love with the way the cards flow into the next due to the little side figures and all of the symbols they contain. The deck that is based upon the shape and internal container concept of nesting dolls.
Back in October of 2021 I took a linoleum block printing class with my mother, which rekindled my love for this medium. It’s meditative and offers a level of technological detachment I hadn’t known I was craving. Unplugging from the devices that has become the corner stone of my business in order to get hands on with my art— to reconnect with me.
I was so excited about carving the project, I wasn’t aware how fast it would swoop me up into it’s world. I hadn’t taken a moment to zoom out and see how it may affect people on a broader scale. I could have easily chosen bowling pins, cookie jars, bottles or something else that had more neutral roots. However if you’ve ever been swept up in a tornado of inspiration you will know that there’s rarely time to stop and think. Sometimes my hands seem to have a mind of their own.
I chose to start creating major arcana in the shape of the nesting dolls after doing alternate signifiers for my Linocut Lenormand in that style. I didn’t stop for a moment to think about the bigger world in which we live in and that while this may be a popular collectible that has spanned the world, it’s still technically not of my own culture. I’ve always loved the concept of nesting dolls, how each one stacks into the other to reveal what’s in the center. It’s a perfect vessel and metaphor for the layers of tarot. I love how the art is playful and functional. I can make excuses all I want for my art, however the facts remain that it’s not of American origins.
Upon more research I learned that they first were introduced as a toy in 1890 at the Children's Education Workshop by Vasily Zvyozdochkin and designed by Sergey Malyutin you can read more about them HERE. Looking even further still into the history, I read THIS ARTICLE indicating that the nesting concept pre-dates the Russian toy maker’s creation. Tracing back to China as stacking boxes as early as 1000AD and then in 1700s crafters made the concept into dolls. Still not American— since let’s be honest, our country is a toddler on the world’s origin story stage.
Why did I even go down this road of research? Especially since I was already done with the entire line-work concepts? 3 words… Russia invaded Ukraine.
As an artists I often get so lost in the process that my brain doesn’t have time to really deep dive into nuances. It is never my intention to offend or make someone upset with my art and on February 24th when I read the headlines I had a whole body reaction. I was sick for what was happening in the world, for the friends and clients of mine—who I have come to know. Those who are of Russian and Ukrainian roots, how they must feel being here witnessing, watching that unfold over there… but to be honest, when I focused on why it really was affecting me somatically, it was because of my project. The deck I was working on could no longer be released to the world.
I was talking it over with my partner, Tim, and at first he didn’t fully understand why I would say such a thing. I explained that people only know these dolls popularly due to their Russian roots and origins, how they are commonly called “Russian nesting dolls”. He only remembered them from the Christmas decor his mother used to set out each year during the holidays. I reminded him that was then and this is now. We live in a culture of cancellation and while I feel it does have some good when we work together to shine light on big corporate level problems and boycotts… I also have huge thoughts about the cancel concept as a whole and how it can affect an individual. Life is made up of gray areas. With all that being said, I pre-cancelled myself before someone who doesn’t know me or my heart took the opportunity to do so.
Harsh? Perhaps, but the proof began to unravel and we are still seeing it unfold as big corporations down to small businesses are withdrawing their support and resources from Russia as well as removing popular brands from their shelves. It’s all to stand in solidarity with Ukraine.
My heart is breaking for Ukraine and the war crimes that are happening there at the hands of Putin and his false propaganda. My stand of solidarity has to be that this deck is on pause to the world as a whole. It’s the reason I stopped sharing the print rolling videos on my instagram, it’s the reason I’ve pulled back. I’m still finishing the project because I need to, but there will not be a crowdfunding launch any time soon, I’ve made the hard decision to postpone.
I’m “reading the room” as they say. No matter my original intentions with this deck, no matter the overall excitement and the heartfelt symbolism that simply was using a popular shape as a means to create a fun and kitschy deck. No matter what it was when I was so compelled to begin creating it… It has now shifted and changed. I have to admit I’m sad that you will not be able to experience this deck in this moment, but then I remember my own words that I’ve said time and time again… Not everything we create has to be for mass consumption. Sometimes it can be unavailable.
This deck has to remain unavailable for now. When I do decide to release it, newsletter subscribers will be the first to know.
If you’d like to stand in solidarity with me, feel free to donate to the many humanitarian aids that are helping Ukraine. We personally chose the Global Giving network after Madame Pamita brought it to our attention on Instagram.
If you prefer aiding a family directly, you might consider booking an Airbnb stay. Airbnb has waived all fees for Ukrainian stays so that the families get the full amount. Alternately you might consider purchasing an item from a Ukrainian Etsy seller who has either digital or physical goods with a note of no intention of receiving the project. Want to support some Ukrainian Etsy Sellers? Check this out!!!
These are just a couple small little ways we can help people being affected by this war.
Often in the spiritual community we make claims that we are all connected… well if this is true then we must come to the aid of people we don’t know and will possibly never meet.
Arwen - March 16, 2022
I so get this. Your deck and this heinous fuckery of an invasion didn’t even go together until I read this. I am sad with you.
Stef - March 16, 2022
On February 18th, about $80 of custom leather Tarot cases were shipped to me from an Etsy seller in Kiev. NEITHER of us having any idea of what would go down only days later. I probably won’t get them but so thankful Andre is all right and he got the funds before he had to close shop!
Jamie - March 12, 2022
Thank you, Joanne. I loved creating the coloring page for patrons and as you know it came from the heart to celebrate 2022 the year of the lovers! Yet it also nods to choices… so here we are allowing it to unfold. I just knew it really only takes one person to see it through the wrong lens and then something I worked so hard to create from a space of love would be ruined. I know you understand. Thank you! (And I’m loving being private on IG btw, I feel like it’s a lot safer for me, my creations and also my followers!
Joanne - March 12, 2022
Wow, Jamie. I’ve colored your nesting doll pages. Now I look at them and see how the images are tied up in the Russian “brand.” We can only hope for some peaceful resolution, but meanwhile, I totally respect your “unavailability” position. Also with the private IG account. I am still public, but personal only at this point. I have other, non-exploitative spaces to be a business in, including Patreon. I love what you all with larger followings are doing to set a new standard for social media participation.
Jamie - March 11, 2022
Cari- Thank you so much, I do feel a bit more calm now that I know a definitive path for this project. Sending hugs right back
Jamie - March 11, 2022
Mom- feel free to share 🖤. I think the world is just so heavy right now… especially every time we feel like we are going to get a “break” something else happens. sigh
Cari Quinn - March 11, 2022
What a heartbreaking realization but I fully support your choice and hope your love of this project helps ease the sting of not sharing it. Sending all the hugs.
Gail Sawyer - March 11, 2022
Jamie, may I share this on my FB page? I have “friends” who sort of follow me lurkingly, and this is so heartfelt and empathic. We need more of this in our world right now in the US. Neil last night had a Ukrainian tech during his CT scan, he recognized her by the Blue and Yellow patch she was wearing on her scrubs. He asked about her, and she said she has family right where all the action is going on. He cried when he shared the story with me and we held hands and cried together.
Jamie - March 11, 2022
Exactly. My heart hurts for everyone being affected by this unwarranted war. I think of the arts and cultures of both countries and how they will both be affected in the long run.
Sheila - March 11, 2022
Good call. Art lies in the interpretation, and man, that would surely have been misinterpreted even when we are in sympathy for the Russian people who never wanted this war.