Reflections One: The Ripples
I decided to tell one last story because many of its components relate to ideas presented in the AST class. It would seem that one act of kindness can have rippling effects for both donor and recipient. The two smaller pieces shown are mounted on 11” by 14” stretched canvases and were completed last summer shortly before the lessons began. A 12” by 24” canvas was used for the larger work. It was completed this fall when the course was in progress.
Every two or three years our fiber group invites its members to participate in a project resulting in the donation of art to a local agency or charity group. This year’s selection involved a Child Advocacy Center which serves to evaluate traumatized and possibly abused children. These folks had a refurbished building but no funds available to minimize their stark gray walls. With a special clientele in mind, project content needed to be carefully chosen. Themes featuring sharp points or fiery dragons were deemed unsuitable.
I believe art for children should be both colorful and tactile. These two ideas were combined with personal childhood memories and gifted to children of another generation. My triptych is called “Chicken Feed”. Many times my parents used this term used when something was small or inexpensive. My only project purchase was the stretched canvases. Everything else was “on hand.” My mother always liked plaids because they didn’t show the dirt as much. Backgrounds and tree leaves are made of cotton homespun, cut into strips, clipped, and laundered to produce both color and a chenille texture. Cutting these strips led to further notions about how they could be used as design elements, perhaps as lines or shapes, in other projects. Polyester suede was employed as a solid and smooth contrast in the chicks and tree trunk. Last of all, the “feed” consists of wooden beads individually sewn similar to ones worn by my mother on many occasions.
A last ripple occurred during the project reception. My husband and I arrived and were greeted by Board Members who did not know us. Their question was, “Who’s the artist?” My husband doesn’t do fiber art and we were the only two people standing there. It took me a few seconds to answer the obvious “I am.” That same question was asked several other times during the evening and each time I became more comfortable its answer.
“Chicken Feed” hangs at the beginning of a long gray hall. By artist request, it’s placed low enough to encourage touching by small hands. I’m told that’s exactly what the children are doing.
Taking a course such as the “Artist Strength Training” requires both time and energy. I had the luxury of putting other things on the back burner while attending to this commitment. I suspect this is not the case with everyone at every time. All I had to do was show up and do the work. For me it meant giving each topic a great deal of thought before actually sitting down to the computer. I enjoyed the writing and results from its effort, including a new sense of purpose and awareness. There was a need to “keep up” to avoid drowning in a backlog of assignments. As a result I expect to spend follow-up time on some topics presented in this program
My objective is still to engage in the mindful play of creativity. For me that’s two hours five days a week. Often these sessions are open-ended and I stay longer if things are going well or I lose track of time.
Week Four discussed limitations. In order to play effectively I needed to clean up the playground. One week was not enough. Between now and January 1, 2016 I hope to have accomplished this task in spite of all the parties and cookie baking. Three boxes of unnecessary fabric are waiting for shipment to a good home as we speak.
Another stimulate to play time is the introduction of new toys/tools. In my case its spending time with some of the things I already have. For example, I want to become more proficient with thermal faxes. I have the books and videos but just need to take time and practice. I’m also interested in working more with paint on fabric. Here again, after reading about it, the best thing is to sit and paint knowing that some items will be throwaways. For me process time is another path to creative thought.
In week seven I wrote about my friend Charlie and his various stages of recovery. I’m still interested in the topic. During the course I made two attempts at a visual representation of these emotions and wasn’t happy with either one of them. Charlie is a real person who deserves my best effort. Right now I need to put him on the shelf and revisit the topic later after more reflection, probably later in 2016. Many of us have experienced tragedy in our lives. It should never be allowed to dictate our present or define our future. Charlie has recently returned from one of his many vacations. After the Holidays, he’ll be planning his summer garden. Rather than dwell on his obvious lack of vision, he’d prefer to have you stop by the house, have and cold beer, and enjoy his delicious tomatoes. Let us know when to expect you!