Friday, March 23, 2012

My presentation at the Pomegranate Guild

This week I gave a presentation to the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles in Toronto. I've learned that " pomegranates were known in Ancient Israel as the fruits which the scouts brought to Moses to demonstrate the fertility of the "promised land". The Book of Exodus describes the me'il ("robe of the ephod") worn by the Hebrew High Priest as having pomegranates embroidered on the hem. According to the Books of Kings the capitals of the two pillars (Jachin and Boaz) that stood in front of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem were engraved with pomegranates. It is said that Solomon designed his coronet based on the pomegranate's "crown" (calyx). It is traditional to consume pomegranates on Rosh Hashana because the pomegranate, with its numerous seeds, symbolizes fruitfulness. Also, it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah.. The pomegranate appeared on the ancient coins of Judea. When not in use, the handles of Torah scrolls are sometimes covered with decorative silver globes similar in shape to "pomegranates" (rimmonim) Some Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.[68] Pomegranates are one of the Seven Species  of fruits and grains enumerated in the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 8:8) as being special products of the Land of Israel. The pomegranate is mentioned in the Bible many times. Pomegranates also symbolize the mystical experience in the Jewish mystical tradition, or kabbalah, with the typical reference being to entering the "garden of pomegranates" or pardes rimonim; this is also the title of a book by the 16th-century mystic Moses ben Jacob Cordovero.

I realize now what a good fit it was for me since they hold dear their religious and spiritual beliefs, and that I myself value making my spiritual life a priority. I prepared my powerpoint presentation, and was really organized and ready for them. I thought having a powerpoint presentation made me look ‘professional’ and I was quite proud about that. I loaded my tapestries and handwoven items into the car, my laptop, my notes, my usb. There wasn’t a thing I forgot. I arrived at my destination 15 minutes early and fortunately, Rikki, my hostess for the evening, was also there early. I unloaded the car, and set up my presentation, laying out tapestries and woven items, and fumbling with the projector that would connect to my computer. Somehow, I made it work! I loaded my USB with the powerpoint presentation. Everything was going perfectly.

Then up came a message saying that Microsoft Office was not loaded on my laptop. Without it, I could not use my powerpoint presentation. Panic set in though I kept it under wraps. I felt somehow that now my talk would be a real disappointment to all the people who had shown up to hear and see it. A guild member tried and tried to open the pictures in some other format but no luck. Fortunately, I had some pictures of my work on the laptop but not all of the ones I had hoped to share with the group. So the decision was made that I would wing it and wing it I did. I let go of the facade of trying to appear ‘professional’ which at this point seemed farcical. And off I launched into a talk for one and a half hours. The first time I’ve talked about myself and work for that long.

This scenario kept me honest, genuine and real and now that this mishap had occurred it was an opportunity to just be very honest and personal with the group about what I do and why I do it instead of hiding behind the camouflage of academic speak. At the end of the presentation, many people came up to talk to me. Rikki, my hostess, told me I was a hit and that the people really enjoyed the personal approach. My colleague, Melanie Siegal, wrote me an email saying that many people enjoyed the presentation. My overall impression of the group was their welcoming warmth and appreciation of what I did. Love and respect was palpable in this room: love of people, love of textiles, love of art and creativity.

And all this seems to connect somehow to something else I’ve been wanting to share with you. One of my tapestries, Joy, appears as a book cover that has been published entitled: Born to Love: Memoirs of an Ageless Senior by Ofidean Virginia Mitchell_Phillips Ph.D. herself a deeply spiritual person.

This is a group who has its share of very talented fibre artists and I’ve included their links below, one for Melanie Siegel and another, Temma Gentles are the ones I know. Some of you may be interested in joining this guild which is located presently on Glencairn Avenue in Toronto. The membership fee is nominal and provides a warm supportive environment for whatever your textile preference is.

In parting, fill your life with all that you love and with all who love you!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Community Threads Week 35

The Community Threads tapestries are coming along slowly. The momentum seems to have slowed somewhat and I hope this is not a sign that enthusiasm is waning. Jackie, on the right, has been working steadily away on the gobelin loom over the last month. Here she is showing Susan Menzies, an artist herself, how to weave tapestry. This is Susan's first attempt. Susan also brought along 2 boys who were in here care over the March Break. They too tried their hand at tapestry weaving. Below, the section of the Community Threads tapestry that Jackie has been working on. I love all the textures and its taking on a three dimensional look.
I brought in a video of the birthing of the Community Threads project that I put together to show those in attendance. I think it re-inspired us all. We're looking to promote a local musician(s) music track to add to the video and then put it on YouTube. It's a wonderful chronicle of the projects unfolding. I was also told  that the historical society had visited on Wednesday. I think the tapestries are looking great! I'm really pleased with the results so far!