Cloth is a layered metaphor. While my intent has been to discuss fabrics like cotton, linen or silk and other materials of my art-making, I can use cloth to imply the intangible of ideas and meanings, like the cloth of my adventure: a very ragged, worn scrap, frayed at the edges, stretched as a shield, crushed between my fingers like a baby’s lovey, smoothing out slowing into a project.
With the cloth so transparent, I can see the movement of its meaning between two and three-dimensional art forms and the cloth of poetry, writing and story. I am moving creatively between the forces of sight and sound in this place so full of beauty and profuse with newness. Absorbing it all is today’s creative responsibility and sometimes all I can handle.
While the act of making something is soothing , it is often difficult to jump toward trusting that notion and the known, while so mired in the unknown. The unknown presently radiates like awareness and armor. That shell is often hard to break – even with the known, even with stitches and cloth.
My dye pots are deep in storage, so I can only gather leaves, learn their names, imagine their imprint on cotton or silk. No boiling of essences right now, just studying, cataloguing, saving. Textures of tree trunks, tracking the egret (outside my door), absorbing the light between shadows, memorizing the palette.
In my Threads of Meaning Virtual Course, I must explain my process for the students, admitting that getting started has been difficult during the transition. I have confessed that it has been hard to pick up old projects let alone, start new. I did bring a medium cardboard box of fabrics with me. Sifting through them, in search of ideas is enough on one day. Fascination with orange may be enough the next day. After five weeks, I’m finding new ways to make do, process the constant newness and be kind to myself.
I learned a new word/acronym about a week ago. Leave it to solitude, searching and poem as prayer to lead me to Massive Open Online Course(s) or as the cool folks say “MOOC.”
I have my trusty text to fall back on in moments of serious questioning. I highlight and post-it anything I think will give me a clue. Why here? I’m actually teaching an online course – not massive or open, a humble course by MOOC standards. A course to cull creativity, visited by willing and open participants, in search of some creative spark or direction, I guess, like me. Threads of Meaning Virtual Workshop is running in Tumblr until the end of November and until we start a new session, as a way to tie my old life to my new. A way to not leave my followers flat in the wake of my life-move. To stay connected for them and me. Selfish? Generous? A personal mission to prove we are all creative if we just know how to trap the thread.
So photos of nature’s poetry, excerpts of familiar poetry, writing my own poetry to capture the adventurous and tenuous essence of my journey and another stumble into a MOOC, The Art of Poetry.
Robert Pinsky‘s The Art of Poetry is a touchstone-gift in the midst of viral loss and seclusion. Why not employ the technology and the internet to stay part of a community. Why not tap the genius of others? Why not broaden the community in light of the solitary?
So I check into the wonderful resource of edX and The Art of Poetry, the natural world of the Low Country through the eye of my camera, the words found within and beyond, the possibility of unknown wealth unidentified.
Landing in Low Country, where it’s normal to be below sea level in most places, at any given time, is in sharp contrast to the heights of the Summit. After a 850 mile road trip, it was a rather abrupt “bump,” if not a gentle crash into life without a schedule, the solitude of anonymity and dilemma of personal reinvention. Life took control and we hopped the unexpected wave, ready or not. Three weeks in, I’m seeing why it’s worth it.
The metaphor of being underwater is tempting in the wake of daunting feelings of loss and doubt. But I prefer to refer to the broad view of forest, marsh and ocean to signify unbound potential. The deep breath of nature, above and beyond, drums a calming rhythm that is gradually quelling my northern hiccups. The girth of 300 year old oaks, their chandeliers of Spanish moss decorate nature’s banquet. Bug and beast abound – the gnat and gator, and multitudes between speak big messages of note.
Day off…or not really, but the relaxed coffee sipping and vintage patch pressing have serenity built in. And so I have been gathering my thoughts about the pile of stitching that needs to be given a moment of serious appreciation for having taken the time, for having the opportunity to honor the quiet amidst the noise of days.
I rarely, can’t remember the last time I brought a work-project home so that I could get it done. Too many interruptions at the shop – some days . This restoration deserves my undivided attention. The more patches I repair, the more frayed cloth I discover. Sad to see fabric disintegrate with time and loving use. But joyful in it’s story of worn edges and recycled secrets.
So today I will
Friday evening, sixteen women convened at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield for a workshop that guided their personal stories into telling stitches.
We wrote. We read. We talked. We stitched.
I hope I shared everybody. All the stories are important and they will continue to be told.