Visual Storytelling: She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls

Mixed Media Art, She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls by Bernadette Rose Smith

A string of pearls with the affirming message,
“Today is the day to find courage within,”
lightly dance around the tail of a man’s tie

like the wave of the Chinese symbol for yin and yang.

The oyster with its soft, sensitive body, not unlike a woman’s,
creates a pearl when challenged by the irritation

and discomfort of a grain of sand or grit.
Wisdom that comes from life experience is hard won
in the same way pearls are created.

“Pearls of wisdom” dance around a woman’s throat from where
she gives voice to hard won opalescent experiences
of sacred passion, desire, being, creativity and so much more.


What happens when a woman wears a tie or puts on pearls? As women – single, married, divorced – how do we maintain balance with bringing home the bacon and frying it? My desire with Ties and Pearls was to create a piece that spoke to the invisible partnering of the male and female in each of us, and how that manifests in our relationships in a visually appealing way.

The archetypal power struggle that happens when masculine and feminine energies within us are out of balance (Jung referred to it as the anima and animus) is the inspiration for this art that mused its way into my studio with this passage from that book I am tearing up.


“I see where my husband became my life, rather than came to be in my life. Somehow I deluded myself into thinking that I was strong enough not to lose myself in him. That I would know if I crossed the line. How did I get so far over it?

How? I spent too many years carrying on like a man. My own distorted spin on the women’s liberation bra burning era I grew up in…. As a woman, safety in a man’s world required liberation from myself. What a paradox! The inner male I took on for strength was the one leading me astray. The very behavior I despised in a man who could not honor, recognize, or value a woman was the very behavior I supported when my male side shadowed my female side…When I let “him” lead, I am chasing my shadow, going nowhere fast.

Did I lose myself in what I felt driven to, or find myself? I don’t regret for a minute letting the woman in me take the lead … I don’t regret the time I’ve taken to get to know her, to learn to trust her. She has the map to my psyche. The wisdom and strength I need to hold true to my soul’s calling. And through all of this she is showing me how to give of myself without giving up myself. Better for my inner male to provide the fuel and momentum under her direction and inspiration. That way they both arrive at a place they actually want to be. A much healthier arrangement!”

Excerpt from Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad


This was a big classroom for me. My need to find balance and create a safe space for expression as a woman wearing pearls found its way into many journal entries through the course of that 9-month period of separation-on-the-brink-of-divorce … and beyond.

While musing over this art, my desire was to create a light visual for a heavy topic. From a distance, I wanted this to be simple and graphic. (Yang/Masculine) Up close, I wanted the layers to reveal themselves slowly, to entice the viewer into more intimate discoveries. (Yin/Feminine)

In the struggle to find a balance, puzzle-pieced together text creates a man’s stark white dress shirt squared off against the inviting curve of a woman’s red bra. Background, created by text collage, represents the boundless body of a woman and the content of her experience.

She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls by Bernadette Rose Smith

So many rich layers of metaphors spoke to me while playing with this. Here are just a few, captured with images and captions to springboard you into entertaining your own thoughts about this subject.

Mixed Media Art, She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls by Bernadette Rose Smith, Close Up of Pearls


The straight angular tie is cast off and almost phallic. (Something I didn’t notice until later.) It is the only piece of the art where text was not the substrate used to make its form. Gold thread and striped text whisper to challenges in breaking free of choking restraints

A string of pearls, with their affirming message, lightly dance around tail of a man’s tie. Balanced, at last, like the wave of the Chinese symbol for yin and yang.

Mixed Media Art, She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls by Bernadette Rose Smith, Tie and Dancing Pearls

Chinese characters for peace and joy (alternate corners) provide a foundation for moving forward when the male and female at last dance in harmony.

Every woman has her story in relationship to ties and pearls. (Gentlemen, I invite you to consider your side of the fence with this because you have a relationship with ties and pearls as well.) I would love to hear about them! Are they working? Not working? In for revisions?

And, if you are a creative-type, how do feel you about using your chosen craft as a way to see an aspect of yourself or life differently – or perhaps more lightly?


#5 from the series “Tear Up that Book and Make Art.”
Prints available in the Messy Room Art Gallery (Under Construction)
If you are interested in a print, Contact me.


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6 thoughts on “Visual Storytelling: She Pitched Her Tie and Put on Pearls

  • January 9, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Bernadette, I was married fairly young and don’t think I knew what femininity really meant. Then mother, wife, housewife, the identity is smothered by responsibility.
    I think a woman blossoms in later life and finds the balance of masculine/feminine, strength/vulnerability, power/beauty and especially rounded love only as she ages. The women I know are powerfully themselves.
    I have some very beautiful and unusual greyish iridescent pearls I love that have the effect of steadying the emotions. xxx Jan

    • January 9, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      I agree with you, Jan. So often I have thought about just that. My experience with life, spirituality, sensuality, creativity … all seem more “full-bodied” now that I am older … as does the image in the mirror! Guess I need to re-up at the gym so I can keep this good-mojo going so I can enjoy it. 😉 I am so happy to see you here in my messy room! xxx

      • January 10, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        Older women are very powerful, though I doubt they really understand their power. We, and by that I mean I, have to be careful. I see grey hared women pegged (not me honeybun) as old and not very competent. Elderly at 60? I don’t think so!! And some chase youth instead of being their powerful selves. Not us, I think Bernadette.

        • January 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm

          You and I both know that “youth” is found in the spirit … not the body. Not going back there … no … uh-uh … no siree … “platinum blond” for me. We’re keeping that twinkle in our eyes, lady! Moving forward! xx

  • January 11, 2016 at 10:32 am

    What a beautiful expression you’ve created here – and I’m so lucky to have seen it first hand! What I didn’t know was the archetype struggle behind the work. There’s a white paper out there with your name on it expanding on this very (timely for me) subject!!

    • January 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks, Juliette! I am in anticipation … what will show itself on that “white piece of paper” you are filling up? There are no coincidences. Gotta love how that works and how we are all connected. Again and again and again … still more. 😉

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