Thursday, December 15, 2011
Recently I received the following invitation:
"I write to invite your participation in Frequencies, a new web-based project to construct a collaborative genealogy of spirituality.
Frequencies is comprised of a series of essays, poems, and sundry other entries by scholars, artists, and activists. We seek to accompany entries with works from contemporary and emerging artists and photographers.
We envision these entries as fragments in a dynamic, large-scale critical portrait of spirituality as a historical subject and contemporary problem. Works selected will be exhibited on the Frequencies website and circulated among the multiple communities of interest surrounding this epic launch. To see the project, visit http://freq.uenci.es.
I invite you specifically to participate after seeing your work "Joy" at the Lowell Textile Museum last spring. I was impressed by the beauty of your tapestry. Frequencies is a collaboration of The Immanent Frame and Killing the Buddha, and was curated by Kathryn Lofton (Yale University) and John Lardas Modern (Franklin & Marshall College).
Associate Editor, Frequencies
My tapestry Joy Is now posted on the their website. Click on the link here:
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Since I had two years to prepare for the solo exhibition, I was able to create about 6 new pieces.....5 of which were tapestries. Shown here, are two of my most recent pieces which the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners helped in the finishing. These two pieces entitled Chakra 5 and 7 are shown here left to right. The chakras present us with a system to weave together body, mind, heart and spirit. This system of beliefs works well in describing how I choose to live my life and practice my artistic and artisinal endeavours, always trying to keep in balance the various needs we have as humans.
The Gallery at the Gibson Centre is a wonderfully restored historic warehouse. It once was a home to manufacturing agricultural machinery. It has been in the Gibson Family a long time, who make a significant contribution to Alliston's economy. They have a fleet of transport trucks that do much of the hauling for Honda, who also employs a large number of people in the area. The building was donated to the community to host its various social and cultural activities. I liked that it had a cash bar for people which meant I didn't have to be out of pocket for refreshments.
Friday, September 9, 2011
What strikes me most thus far while I am a guest artist and weaver at the Gibson Centre, is how much people can accomplish when they work together. Collaboration. Interaction. Cooperation. Together we can work wonders. Over and over again during the time I've been assisting the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners, one fact is glaringly evident. So many of these people, and in this particular circumstance, women, are doing so much volunteer work to make their community a better place, their environment healthier, and the world a kinder place to live in. I am always so awed by the largesse of people's hearts. My life and financial circumstances don't give me the time and resources I would need to do what these people are able to undertake. Let us just say, that many othose who have more abundant resources do give back in ways I wish I could. They are great role models and mentors to others who will follow behind them.
The main gobelin loom is set up and the weaving guild members are now weaving on the tapestries. In this picture, Nellie on the left and Corrie sitting beside her. Above, we took a group shot of many of those who have helped out regularly over the last two months. Unfortunately, some were not present and certainly deserved to be part of this group shot. It's nice to record the event and project as it evolves.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
To be whole, is described as being healthy, entire; recovered from a wound or injury; restored; free of defect or impairment; mentally and emotionally sound; constituting an undivided unit; constituting a person in their full nature; not having omitted or disregarded anything; a coherent system or organization of parts working together as one; Referenced from Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Wholeness. Many of us seek to become whole. To be and become what we can be. To be given the opportunity and the circumstances to know wholeness as a human being. That is undoubtely a blessing. We can find wholeness by engaging in an assortment of activities and relationships that will help us grow, flourish, and lead to our transformation. This has been a theme in my art practice, and my philosophy of life ever since I can remember.
Most, though not all of the work I am presenting for this solo exhibition are handwoven tapestries. Two series or bodies of work are presented, distinguished by their use of colour and the manner in which they are hung. What unites the two groups of work is that both groups of work seek to interpret visually the human experience of emotion, states and interactions. They have been inspired by a large body of research on religion, psychology, spirituality and scientific studies on the effects of colour. The series that employs bright colours is called the Well Being series. The dark, large, three dimensional pieces are part of the groupings called Turbulence.
The colours in the Well Being series have been inspired by the colours used to describe the chakras. In Hinduism, there are physical focal points where psychic forces merge and interact and there are seven chakras, each associated with a colour among other things. Chakras work in dialogue and relationship with each other. It is a body/mind paradigm which is also the case in western psychology especially in the practice of cognitive therapy. The momentum of this movement of well being can be observed in bookstores and on television where it has almost become mainstream, yet seems still to evade so many of us.
The colours found in the Turbulence grouping are more ponderous and heavy. Thoughts, feelings and memories weigh upon us bringing us some measure of discomfort. Acknowledging our shadow side helps us to transform these denser feelings into new insights, that may bring us a more joyful, positive and harmonious dimension to our life.
The two distinct groups of weavings are united in their theme – giving visual expression to the wide range of human emotion and states, and this includes our shadow/dark/ side as well as our more pleasant emotions. The pleasant emotions, the Well Being series, are shown as bright and intense colours, simple in their composition and convey the lightness and buoyancy they bring to our spirit, body and energy. Our darker side/reflective side is represented by the pieces in the Turbulence group, and they incorporate black as the dominant colour, and also a three dimensional technical aspect. This dimension of ourselves is more complex, revealing insights if we the courage to face them, if we are receptive and willing to heed its message. Grappling with our inner uncertainties, fears and uncomfortable emotions in a way that honours them, can transform them and us. This is represented in some of my tapestries that are three dimensional which are also interactive and are able to be hung in different configurations.
Friday, September 2, 2011
While we were setting up, these two lovely ladies were preparing lunches for people who came to the eating area of the Gibson Centre. On the left Thelma, a volunteer at the centre and on the right, Audrey Gibson, whose family donated the historic building in which the Gibson Centre is situated.
Corrie Parsons is shown here starting on weaving the third tapestry. Elisabeth Bishof continued with it when Corrie was ready to move on.
Elisabeth became totally entranced while tapestry weaving and discovered that she really enjoyed the process.
In closing I'd like to tell you about Sharon Robinson. She takes donations of knitting yarn for the CFFC, (Canadian Food for Children) whose friend, Frankie, is down in Guatemala working with the premie babies while traveling and visiting many clinics sponsored, opened and run by the CFFC. Frankie is a neonatal nurse and teacher at Mount Sinai Hospital and two other Toronto Hospitals. It is her 5th trip to one of the 22 countries that the CFFC assists in donations and medical aid. When Frankie returns from each trip with photos of these beautiful villages where communities living in such poverty and no hope, Sharon and her community get are more motivated to do what they can to help. Mother Teresa's motto inspires them: we can't change the world, but we can bring light and hope. Sharon and her friend Frankie hope to have 3000 baby gift sets and they have already prepared 2030.... these gift sets include a baby blanket, receiving blanket, cloth diapers, plastic diaper pants, pins, hats, booties, socks, face cloth, soap, undershirts and sleepers. All donations are accepted for all sizes of babies, children, adults, medical supplies and art and school supplies, food and dried eggs and flour and cereal etc. The high schools do a soap and salt collection several times a year and the teenagers are remarkable in their dedication to make it as successful as possible.... Any donations can be droppbed off at the Gibson Centre, attention to Sharon Robinson.
Sharon writes: "On behalf of Frankie (who is truly a huge force in helping keep CFFC running) and CFFC we are very thankful and appreciate all the ladies from our guild, who have donated so much beautiful quality materials, fibres and clothing of such excellent quality." Sharon and Frankie are always appreciative of any donations no matter how small or big as it all goes directly to the those we promise to serve and help.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
There's nothing like working in a team and today we worked really well together. I think the best kind of art is one that involves lots of other people, with all their gifts and talents that they bring to the table. Actors, singers and even musicians get to experience collaboration with others, but it doesn't often happen for craftspeople and visual artists. For me this is a revitalizing and refreshing way to work together with others to make all of this happen.
Lots of people showed up to lend a helping hand and we don't have pictures of all of those who did show up today. Here Nicolas Rodrigo volunteered to continue working on the cartoons for the tapestries, enlarging the designs into the size of the finished piece. The picture above, from left to right, Corrie Parsons, Nellie Waterson, Jean Kazmierczak and Janet Fayle and I know that Nathalia Smugden also came to help out with finishing my tapestries. Elisabeth Bishof worked on one of the smaller tapestry looms. She said that she enjoys the preparation more than the weaving, but thought she might like to try the tapestry. Dawna Beatty worked on a guild weaving project.
Our main challenge today was figuring out a way to position our cartoons on the gobelin loom so that they would remain attached while weaving. I think it took about 6 of us to devise a method, without making permanent physical adjustments to the loom that is only lent to us. Finally we found a way and we were ready to start weaving. In this photo from left to right, Jada Needles giving a massage to Sandi Nemenyi who is beside Linda Needles. We must thank Linda for taking many of the photographs that we used for the designs of the tapestries. The two people who started the first few rows of the tapestry weaving was Lucy Tavares and Sandi Nemenyi and Sharon Robinson made movies and took pictures of the events as they unfold.
We had many special guests today. Above you saw that Jada Needles joined in on the weaving, but her brother Clark also came along and stayed with us for the day.
Here, the president of the South Simcoe Arts Council tried her hand at weaving on the tapestry and said that she could stay all day. It made her forget about everything else.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
On the way into set up the Community Threads activities in Alice's Attic at the Gibson Centre, I rode up the elevator with Lynda Mitchell-Reynolds, who I believe is the Executive Director of the South Simcoe Arts Council. She has been very supportive of the Community Threads project and very accommodating. How she gets any work done with us making so much noise is a wonder as her office is very nearby!
Things often don't go as planned and so in those situations one makes adjustments and accommodations to the changing circumstances. We had hoped to continue creating the cartoons for the remaining ten tapestries, alas, the bulbs that Sandi Nemenyi ordered for the overhead projector had not arrived for today. One of the tasks we continued doing this week was matching the yarns with the colors in the paintings, and creating 'butterflies' for the various colour shapes in the design and then coding them for easy access and weaving, sort of like a paint by number idea. Nicolas Rodriogo and his mother Sharon, shown here in this photo, assisted me in this task. We talked about many things together and one of the things that Nicolas and I discussed was mastery when he commented how quickly I was getting the task done. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers', where he discusses what makes individuals successful, the magic number is 10,000. This is how many hours one needs to be practicing a skill set before one has reached mastery. Then it becomes like breathing....like a second nature.
Because we couldn't continue with the tracing the cartoons with the overhead projector, we focused on other tasks. I am really grateful for all the help doing the finishing work on my own tapestries, that just might be ready in time for the exhibition! I wasn't expecting it but it seems like it might be a real possibility. In tapestry studios of the past, and some current ones, many hands would be working on all stages of the tapesties. So it's a continuation of a historical practice. Helping out at this task today was Nellie Waterman, Valerie Splaine, Betty C, Nathalia Smugden, Sandi Nemenyi, Janet Dryden, Allanah Bishof and Janet Fayle....I think that was it.
Here Corrie Parsons and Lucy Tavares are doing this task. I found out from Libby that the gobelin tapestry loom was lent to us by Elaine Bresselier who hails from Penetang.
Gayle Wheeler, Elisabeth Bishof and Jean K were also in attendance and assisting us in various ways.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Linda Needles, president of her guild, is one of the dynamic forces at the Nottawasaga Handweavers and Spinners in Alliston. She sent me all kinds of links and pictures related to tapestry weaving. I'll post them at the end of the blog for you to reference and learn more about tapestry as well as about historical and contemporary tapestry practices. Of the many images she sent me, this one was included. It is taken at Stirling Castle in Scotland where they are recreating the historical Unicorn tapestries.
There were various tasks to accomplish today. The guild participants helped me in the finishing of my tapestries recently off the loom in an effort to have them ready for the exhibition opening Wholeness, September 11 between 2-5pm at the Gibson Centre for Community, Art and Culture, 63 Tupper Street West. An intensive effort as they soon discovered. This task requires hours of inserting the weft threads into the 'tunnel' that the weft thread creates as it passes over the warp threads.
In this picture, from left to right, Janet Fayle, Elisabeth Bishof, and Betty C.
The advantage of such a task when undertaken with others, is that it is one of those jobs that you can engage in conversation easily. So lots of chatting went on. From left to right, Nellie, our new OHS president Sandi Nemenyi, and Janet .
As I listen to them talking among each other I clearly see that these women make valuable contirubtions to their community. Sharon Robinson Rodrigo summed it up beautifully when she said that these kinds of cultural activities are community building activities. It builds morale, lifts the spirits of not only those who make the contributions but also those who will benefit from their contributions. People like Linda Needles who works to fundraise for a digital mammography machine, Sandi Nemenyi who puts in countless hours voluntarily and unpaid for the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners, Janet Fayle, whose good sense of order and organization keeps the Nottawasaga Guild running smoothly, Sharon Robinson Rodrigo who puts in volunteer hours for her church, and their youth camp as well as their endeavours to send aid to Haiti. All of you that have come out to participate in the Community Threads project ....I can only say it is such a generous gesture to participate in a project of this scope. I'm sure there are many more of you that contribute in other ways that I have not heard of and you deserve a great round of applause. These community and volunteer efforts contribute to our 'wholeness', to the 'wholeness' of one's community and various organizations , which makes this entire endeavour so compatible with my upcoming exhibit entitled Wholeness.
In this picture Sharon Robinson Rodrigo and Linda Needles prepare the paper that will be layered between the warp threads on the gobelin loom.
We learned today that the Gibson Centre has a TV monitor in the reception area where they post pictures of the activities that take place there. I'll be submitting pictures to the Gibson Centre for that purpose....so head's up, your picture might be there! The South Simcoe Arts Council friended us on 'Facebook' and is very supportive of our undertaking. They have made a contribution to the Community Threads project.
Libby Hoffman and Nathalia Smugden finished setting up the warps on the smaller tapestry looms we'll be using. Nathalia mentioned that she took Ukrainian weaving for several years at the Banff School of Art and recalls the luxury of having a swim morning and night, and weaving all day in between. We talked about how wonderful it is to be able to dedicate time to an activity we feel passionate about and love doing. Time out from the usual mundande domestic chores. Time to just focus on what matters to us. Time to not take care of anyone else but ourselves. We all need to do that once in awhile, to feel whole, to feel renewed!
The final preparations of the warp on the gobelin loom overseen by Gayle Wheeler on the right. Valerie Splaine and Elisabeth Bishof undertake the task. Gayle has studied tapestry with Marcel Marois and Archie Brennan ( and also studied with me!). You should ask Gayle what is was like to work with Marcel and Archie. I'm sure it would be intriguing and very interesting!
I spent the day on the floor preparing the colour combinations and butterflies for the one of the twelve tapestries. Everything had to be coded for the days when I won't be available to help.
Below the promised links to other tapestry information, historical and contemporary forwarded by Linda Needles.
This link makes reference to an artist who commissioned the Victorian Tapestry Workshop to create his designs for tapestries that are still hanging in Saskatchewan. See page 12 of the transcripts of this talk given.
This link is to the Stirling Castle tapestries
Canongate Kirk - "kirk," that's what they call churches in Scotland - is at
the lower end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, near Holyrood Palace.
Built in 1690, its plain, light-blue interior, without embellishments such
as stained-glass windows, reflects the country's conversion to Protestantism
in the 16th century, under fire-and-brimstone-breathing Scottish preacher
But in 2000, some truly lovely and moving elaborations were made to the
otherwise Spartan church in the form of embroidered seat cushions for the
stalls in the apse.
Commissioned by the Fife, Lothians and Borders branch of the Normandy
Veterans Assn., they commemorate the soldiers who died, fighting to liberate
Europe during World War II, on D-day.
Fine three-stranded wool thread dyed in a rainbow of colors was used by
textile artists from all over the world, in patterns well-known to crewel
workers, including Scottish and Gobelin stitchery. The result is radiant,
though it's doubtful that Knox would agree.
Susan Spano, Los Angeles Times staff writer
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Above, Elisabeth Bishoff wound more skeins into balls and helped anyone else who needed helping.
I'm enjoying working with weavers and how fortunate I feel to assist them in this project. I'm used to working slowly, methodically on my own creative endeavours. I'm used to the solitariness of my weaving activities, but how much more one can accomplish as a group, and how much more fun it is to be with others and a part of a large creative undertaking. For what is life really but our being present to the moment and to each other, our interactions igniting our enthusiasm and weaving us together into a conhesive whole. However, it is also significant because it makes reference to how tapestries were woven centuries ago, and in some places, still, for instance Australia, France, Scotland and England. Often there are many weavers that weave on one tapestry. At some points in tapestry history, weavers created the designs. Then it became fashionable to have artists create the designs for the tapestries. Today, both practices are still usual.