Merritt Johnson, (b. 1977)
Mother’s love, Ista konaronkwa, 2018
Rabbit fur, beads, Kevlar, ribbon, thread
On loan from the artist
Mother’s love, Ista konaronkwa is an infant-sized bonnet, hand-knit from Kevlar, lined with rabbit fur, and adorned with beads and ribbon. The combination of materials reflects how a mother’s love is expressed and understood—as warm and comforting but also unflinching and strong. Kevlar known for its use in bulletproof vests; however, the bonnet is not bulletproof. Johnson uses Kevlar to convey the intention to protect, while simultaneously acknowledging that many children in the US—especially children of color—still face dangers stemming from systemic racism. The bonnet is an extension of “love, joy, and strength, made to face the world as it is”—rather than as it should be.