Friday, December 25, 2009

Moire Christmas

May You Have a Very Moire Christmas!

Well, like most of my projects--do you think perpetual dissatisfaction is a key ingredient to being an artist--my linen curtains are up, looking crisp with nice moire patterning, but we have concluded that the side panels are so much nicer with the wall and trim colors than the central yellow-tan panels, that I have decided to weave new panels for the three central lengths of linen. Yesterday I went through all my closets and shelves pulling any linen that mimics the color of the lea 16/2 Normandy linen (from Henry's Attic) used in the side panels. Why? Because I only had a partial cone of the 16/2 left, not enough to complete the project, and one of my resolutions is to use what I have rather than purchase new yarn. Not even 2010 and already my resolutions are giving me a headache.

Dining Room with Current Version of Curtains

I found several tubes of different linens and decided to use a rotation of three for the sides, with the remaining lea 16/2 linen in the center. The warp is wound on my Macomber now and I can start to thread the loom when I finish this post. Maybe I just like weaving plain weave and this is an excuse to keep going.

Detail of curtains showing different linens used in wider panels

Last night on NPR I heard a discussion about Gateau Basque and it sounded so good that I decided to make that instead of empanadas for the brunch we were going to attend. I made the dough last night and this morning, just as I was about to start assembling the cake, got a phone call canceling the gathering--too many people are sick and one of our friends is vulnerable to germs right now. Of course I was disappointed, but decided to proceed with my baking. The dough is suppose to be rolled out into two 8" disks--and I had made both of them too big--so I cut them down to 8" each, then used the sides to piece together a smaller gateau in another pan. I filled one with blueberry and the other with apricot jam. We have already eaten the apricot one and it is DELICIOUS. I definitely recommend you try it. And to the people at NPR, thank you for this and all the other wonderful stories each day.

Weaving I made for Holly hanging as backdrop to Christmas flowers

Holly told me I had to come over and see my weaving hanging behind the amaryllis that is blooming in her kitchen. She was right. So Merry Moire Christmas to you all and may your new year bloom and bloom.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Halifax - Part 2

Halifax Night Lights

Halifax was lit up for the holidays, as well as the usual city lights, but pictures taken in a moving car in snow and rain show it off even better. Last time I was in Halifax there was a fierce snowstorm that shut down the enter east coast, causing a two-day delay in my arrival. School (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, i.e., NSCAD) was cancelled but some students came in anyway to hear my talk. There was no traffic on the road, snow was knee deep, and I thought the town was a small fishing village. This time I realized it is quite large--especially if you consider Dartmouth and Halifax as one city. I liked everything about it and hope to get there in warmer weather when we can walk along the water and not freeze.

Lesley Armstrong in her studio, Armstrong Textiles

I met Lesley Armstrong on that first visit to Halifax and knew I wanted to see her studio. Lesley produces wonderful contemporary textiles that are woven and then felted and manipulated to become textured and lively. She weaves these fabrics on old looms that she has saved from disuse, bringing some of them from England to Canada. I loved the contrast of the up-to-the-minute cloth with the machinery, which is really industrial revolution (ancient compared to modern equipment). You can see that Lesley is as lively as her cloth--always laughing, smiling and exhibiting genuine enthusiasm. Besides running Armstrong Textiles, she is on the faculty of NSCAD.

Robin Mueller (l) and Frances Dorsey (r)
Textile Faculty at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design

Images of NSCAD Textiles Studios
Morag weaving on tapestry loom, top left
Michelle Alarie at TC-1 Loom, center left
Maddy Andrews wearing her jacquard cloth, bottom right

Robin Mueller and Frances Dorsey are the two full-time faculty in textiles at NSCAD. Although it was the end of the term, and everyone was very busy, they kindly asked me to do a lecture for their students. Before my talk I got to visit the studios, which are in a charming old building, one you could easily get lost in. Michelle Alarie, the technical assistant, was my guide and kept me out of trouble. They have a wonderful TC-1 loom with 12 modules. I wove on it the last time I was there. This time I only looked with envy at the width and the extra modules that i would like to have on my loom. There is a strong possibility that I will return to NSCAD in the summer of 2011 to teach, and perhaps there will be a chance for me to try their loom again too. NSCAD has been a strong program for many years--Sandra Brownlee is one of their graduates. One of the reasons it continues to thrive is because the faculty are working artists, as well as teachers. If you click here you can read an interesting review of Fran's recent exhibition, Saigon. There is also a catalog that can be ordered from the exhibition. Though I don't know Fran well, every time I see her I have the feeling that we are old friends. I guess we must have been sisters in a past life.

Wendy Landry in her studio showing her velvet loom

Another woman who teaches at NSCAD is Wendy Landry. We visited Wendy's studio on Saturday. I knew she was a velvet weaver and had modified a loom, but I wasn't familiar with her work. Once I saw it, I thought that not only should I know her work, but so should more people. She has her loom set up with two different warps for the velvet pile so she can do interchanging colors in pile. She is also a historian and scholar, and her interests show up in the weaving. The bottom left image above shows a weaving she did where she combines pile loops and an area of weft tapestry, like the Coptic weavers used to do.

Sandra Brownlee weaving and images of her studio

Of course, we also saw Sandra Brownlee's studio. Sandra's work is featured in the new book, Art Textiles of the World: Canada. So if you can't get to Halifax to see her current exhibition, you can see her work in that book.

Speaking of books, if you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to read, I strongly recommend A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev. It is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Bittersweet. It made me want to visit Israel. It got me to write to my wonderful cousin Ahinoam, who I had not contacted in a long time. It's a great read.

I finished my plain weave linen for the curtains. Will take a picture soon to show you the moire effect. I didn't get to light Chanukah candles this year (Happy Chanukah if this is your celebration!) so this tree below will have to do.

Festive Halifax Tree

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Halifax - Part 1

On the road to Halifax, Nova Scotia

We took a road trip to Halifax, and in the rush to leave before the big snow storm hit, I forgot to bring the cable for downloading images. At least I remembered the camera. The main reason for going was to see Sandra Brownlee's exhibition Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee at the Mary E. Black Gallery of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.

Sandra Brownlee with her new weavings

Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee
Exhibition at Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

The show is wonderful, well-worth the two day drive to get there from Randolph, and the review in today's Chronicle Herald shows that the public is really understanding the passion expressed in Sandra's work. I am going to write an article on Sandra's work later in the year for Surface Design Journal, so it was important for me to see the current work in a gallery setting. She has always been one of my art heroes, and this show lived up to my expectations. There is a broad range of expression here, both in materials and process. The center piece of the show is her book, Departures and Returns, as seen in the vitrine in the center of the gallery. Of course for me, standing in front of her weavings is a visit to a holy shrine.

We have known Sandra since 1980, when we first visited Cranbrook as undergraduates at University of Kansas, thinking about applying to graduate school (which actually happened 7 years later). Sandra was a graduate student in fibers then, and, as the open-hearted person she is, she invited us into her studio for tea and completely awed us with her friendliness and her charisma. When we moved to Philadelphia in 1990, where she was living, she became our closest friend. Our time in Halifax just picked up where we left off--talking and laughing and drinking red wine. Raised near Halifax, Sandra was the perfect guide of this charming city.

Mark Goodwin and Sandra Brownlee
Images of Halifax

Norman Flynn Design - an amazing place

One of the best stops on our tour was at Norman Flynn Design. This is one of the most upscale lighting showrooms I have seen anywhere outside of NYC. The owners, Bruce Norman and Blair Flynn were both there, both extremely gracious and helpful (we were looking for a special bulb). If we lived there, we would save our money and become their clients. They had some outrageous chandeliers that made me smile; and admire them for their pursuit of bringing such a wonderful aesthetic to Halifax. Many of them are textile-related--but isn't everything?

Another stop on the tour was at Eyelevel Gallery, where, speaking to Michael McCormack, the director, we once again saw how friendly everyone is in Halifax. This gallery has an area of artist's books and there is still time to submit to their upcoming exhibition Re-shelving Initiative: Four.

Michael McCormack, director of Eyelevel Gallery

Although we were only in Halifax for 3 full days and 4 nights, we did so many things that I will do another post later this week with more about the trip. We visited three weaving studios--Sandra's, Lesley Armstrong's and Wendy Landry's. Lesley has power equipment, Wendy is a velvet weaver, and Sandra does pickup--three amazing weavers all associated with Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (where I did a lecture on Friday), three friends that exemplify the diversity of the label "weaver." So I will share more with you later this week, but I guess I will end with an image of our last dinner with Sandra. We heard on the radio before leaving home that the lobster boats had just left the Halifax harbor--so we knew what we wanted to eat when we got there.

Sandra and Mark with one of the lobsters

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weaving Music

When I teach beginning weaving, I like to suggest to students that instead of listening to their ipods, that they listen to the music of weaving. You get a lot of feedback about your work from the sounds of the weaving--it tells you about your rhythm, which can affect the beat of your weft; it tells you about the smoothness of the weft winding off the bobbin; it can tell you if a metal heddle hook falls off of a pedal. The other day, our 30th anniversary, we decided to change our dining room curtains. I had woven some plain weave linen yardage awhile back, and as an anniversary present, I brought the cloth downstairs to make into curtains. I had three lengths--a white linen, a dark natural linen, and a light tan linen. None of them was long enough to cover the window area, but all together they just fit. At least, they fit until Mark dyed the white fabric in tea and coffee and it shrunk. So I decided to weave some more of the light tan linen yardage, which was a narrower band than the other two.

As I was winding my warp, the warping reel was making loud cacophonous sound and no amount of spray silicon could silence it. Suddenly I got inspired to make a video of this "musical." Mark obliged me by being the cameraman, but when we downloaded it we discovered our digital camera does not have a sound component. I was crestfallen and returned to winding the warp, when it occurred to me that my computer could record sound. I didn't have a clue where to begin, but a few words in google and I was able to read enough about imovie to get started. We recorded the sound and Mark made several videos, and then I assembled everything in imovie, then converted it to a quick time clip. Here it is, my first movie!

video
Winding Warp Musical

Today, while weaving, I realized the music of the loom was much softer; kinder to the ears. I heard the sounds of the weft unreeling from the bobbin, the sounds of the beater moving the weft into place, the sounds of the heddles moving--especially when I wound the warp forward. So I asked Mark to work with me again, and we made the following movie--Weaving Plain Weave.

video
Plain Weave Musical

The opening at BigTown Gallery yesterday was lovely. I was thrilled to see my weaving Crabapple on the front wall as you enter the gallery. It was a very festive, happy occasion, lots of wishes placed in the Wishing Wall, and later at our house home made pizza (Mark the chef). Definitely delicious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Invitation to an Exhibition

Sled Ride in Vermont, collage by Varujan Boghosian
Invitation to BigTown Gallery exhibition
Modern Treasures for the Holidays

Inside of the exhibition invitation
Big Town Gallery
99 North Main
Rochester, VT 05767
802-767-9670

The opening of Modern Treasures for the Holidays is opening this Saturday, November 28th at 4 p.m. at BigTown Gallery. If you click on the image above, the image should open in a large file, allowing you to read the names of the participants--but just in case it doesn't work, here are the featured artists: Varujan Boghasian, Lizi Boyd, Leslie Fry, Pat dipaula Klein, Abby Rieser, Charles Spurrier, Charles Shackleton, Miranda Thomas, Holly Walker, Bhakti Ziek.

Again, I am not sure if the writing on the left page of the invitation will show up in the larger image or not, but it describes the Wish Wall that is going to part of the Holiday Exhibition. Anyone can put as many wishes as they want into the wall. It is going to be a sea of color and I am sure it is going to emanate good energy. I like having more than one wish possible--then I can be selfish with some and generous with others. Of course, when one wishes something like "peace for all" or "health and prosperity for everyone" then I guess it covers oneself as well as others.

If you read this blog regularly, you know Holly Walker and I are friends. She just received great news--her work is on the cover of a new book, Masters: Earthenware by Ray Hemachandra, editor with Matthias Ostermann, curator. Pat dipaula Klein is also a friend of mine--we both were teachers at Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science (PCTS) at the same time--she in print design, me in weave. She has lovely embroideries in the exhibit.

I have a range of work in the show, some handpicked lampas weavings where I dyed the warp with natural dyes using ikat resist techniques. Also some handwoven jacquards as well as digitally woven jacquards. Birds 2, below, is one of the pieces that will be at the gallery. The background cloth, woven on a fully electronic jacquard loom at PCTS is based on a historical Italian damask from the 14th century (if my memory is right--not that I was alive then, remembering from history of textiles class). The top cloth, woven with fine, almost-invisible-as-a-single-strand silk, I handwove on a 19th century jacquard loom at Fondazione della Seta Lisio, in Florence, Italy.

I love that Birds 2 encompassed old and new modes of jacquard weaving in its making, and that the historical image is done on the new equipment, while the contemporary image (my drawing from birds in a plaza) was done with the historical equipment. The material is also flipped--silk in a form that is hardly used today for the top panel and polyester and cotton for the background. I am always talking about a continuum in weaving that goes from the first weaver to the present weaver (me, you, us), a continuum of ideas, of processes, of kinetic knowledge that helps shape an awareness of the world. Weaving is a process of unity--of bringing individual elements into a whole--chaos to order. I am sure there are weavers in this continuum who would fall in every one of the categories listed in my last blog, we are diverse as well as similar, but it wouldn't surprise me if themes like structure, systems, stories, and identity cropped up again and again.

Birds 2 by Bhakti Ziek
can be seen at BigTown Gallery holiday exhibition

By the way, I am starting to read a manual on Dreamweaver, in preparation of making my own website, one for my husband, and helping two friends create their own. Reading this (it definitely is not easy reading) reminds me how some readers must feel reading The Woven Pixel, by Alice Schlein and myself. Understanding technology is learning a foreign language. I just want to open the application and get on with it--as our readers probably want to do with jacquard or dobby design--but getting an overview is important and since I am basically ignorant about web design, I have decided to take the time to read through once, acknowledging that much of it is going over my head, not in my head. When I finish, I will start again with the book open and do their exercises, as well as start my web site. Again, impatient, I want this to happen tomorrow, but I already see that assembling the parts is going to take time and if I want to put a realistic goal on my page, I will aim for a spring debut. Just my long-winded way of saying to those of you who have The Woven Pixel, or those of you who are planning on getting it (a good holiday gift), it is an instructive book that will help you become proficient, but it still is a step by step process. Take the time to read it from the start, and to follow along with the instructions, and soon you will be master of the information.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Systems and Classification


The other night I got a phone call from a friend, and I was very rude, very distracted. I was busy trying to figure out the system behind the PBS Art 21 series—how was it organized? Did each season have the same thematic words as the principal of organization? I had just started writing down the words when the phone rang, and I just could not shake myself out of my pondering, so I hung up quickly. This ability, or obsession, with focusing, sorting, cataloging and making connections between things that are sometimes correct (and, as my husband likes to point out, often bizarre and very far off the mark), helps me to understand the world.

Finally I had an ah-ha moment and realized that each program had its own word (theme) and this was divided into four segments (artists). So far there have been five seasons, every other year since 2001. Four programs per year means five times four times four equals eighty artists categorized by twenty words.

The twenty themes have been:

Place

Identity

Spirituality

Consumption

Stories

Loss and Desire

Time

Humor

Power

Memory

Structures

Play

Romance

Protest

Ecology

Paradox

Compassion

Fantasy

Transformation

Systems

After I got that sorted out, I made a list of all the artists in each segment that we have seen so far. Eventually we will get to them all. Sometimes the categorization is self-evident, but more often it seems arbitrary, or at least just one part of the puzzle. I guess that is the more accurate description—since most artists or people in general are multi-faceted and could be placed in different categories. That is the fallacy of any system of division—whether it is horoscopes or numerology or whether you prefer vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream—we all have shades of the variables within us. Nevertheless, I sent an email to several friends and asked them to place themselves, and the rest of us in one of the Art 21 categories. I think it was an interesting exercise. It certainly made me think about myself and my work, and five other artists and their work, in a concentrated manner. I found certain words were easily eliminated and some seemed to cluster. Some topics could have worked for any of us (is that why we are all friends?) but in the end I made individual decisions for each of these people, as they did for the rest of us. No one had just one attribute, though there was similar choices made—which must show that we each have some consistency or clarity that is being expressed.

Now I am thinking about visual ways to express categorization or systems of being.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Art Talk

Entrance to MassMOCA

Last week brought our last fall visitors, Anne Lindberg and Marcie Miller Gross, who came from Kansas City to take down Anne's work in the H2O Film on Water exhibit at Newport Mill in New Hampshire. Marcie requested that we go to MassMOCA so we drove to North Adams last Friday. You can see how happy we were to be together--passionate talk by passionate artists--all art talk all day could have been our slogan. Though Marcie and Anne did not overlap at Cranbrook, Liz and I shared time with both of them--Anne being second year to our first year, and Marcie being first year to our second year. These connections are truly deep, and deepen every time we get together and share experiences like this one among the Sol LeWitt wall murals.

Talking, Laughing, Photographing the Sol LeWitt murals at MassMOCA

The space of MassMOCA is as inspiring as the work. We all talked about what our work would look like there, which room we would chose. Thinking about my TC1, which is set up to weave a 14-inch width right now, it seems ludicrous to consider these vast spaces for my work. But ambition has no bounds, so consider it I did. All things seem possible around these friends who work hard, really hard, to make their ideas become reality. Internally I feel shaken up, like the floor of the Kiefer piece shown below, but hopefully all this agitation and excitement will lead to something cohesive and interesting in my studio this winter.

Standing next to Anselm Keifer sculpture at MassMOCA

On Sunday we went to Newport to take down Anne's piece. She had hung thousands of threads in a wave pattern from the ceiling, and our task was to get it crated so it can be shown again in the future. We worked together as if we do this every day as a team. Of course, we did have some past experience--Liz helped Anne with her final work at Cranbrook and Marcie helped me with mine.

One of the conversations we had was about the PBS series, Art 21. Mark, Marcie and Anne all knew about it, have watched these incredible interviews, but it was news to Liz and me. The last few nights Mark and I have been watching some of the programs on our computer. So far we have seen 14 artist segments. I am realizing how out of touch I am with the contemporary art scene, and that I miss going to New York galleries. Most of the artists we watched so far are people who do the kind of monolithic work that fit spaces like MassMOCA--and most of them work with teams of young people who execute the work. It seems foreign to me, I have always worked alone, yet the history of art is all about masters and apprentices; the Angers Tapestries wouldn't exist if only one person had made them. After watching the programs on Julie Mehretu and Doris Salcedo, I realized I had just encountered two new forces of inspiration--women, like my friends, who are passionate about their art.

Anne Lindberg in front of her piece at Newport Mill

Team Work

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reading, Architecture and Holloween

Architecture 2051 at Vermont Technical College
(top left to right: Holly Walker at her house; Erin Fajins; James Vincent;
center left to right: Michael Wilson; Professor Paul Hartmann and Jamison Cook; Jamison Cook;
bottom left to right: Jess Mosman; Majken Thomas; Ashley Fernandes

I just finished reading The Women by T.C. Boyle, about the wives and mistresses of Frank Lloyd Wright, a novel that vividly brings all the contradictions of Wright's personality and creativity to life, and filled me with images of the horror of love and divorce one hundred years ago. One hundred years ago--that sounds like a long time, doesn't it? Yet Wright is still seen by most people as a contemporary architect and visionary. Just this summer my brother, a long time fan, went on about Wright's attempts to marry buildings with landscape. I remember reacting with a slightly bored, jaded attitude--but reading this book has rekindled my curiosity about him, getting me to take another look at images of his buildings.

Coincidentally to my reading, Holly Walker and Geof Finkels invited us to attend the presentations of the students in Professor Paul Hartmann's Architecture 2051 class at Vermont Technical College. The students had come to their house to see the site, and were making proposals for a pottery studio for Holly. When I was a teacher, I sometimes had projects where students made proposals for real sites, and I know how working this way makes a project really tangible for them. There were actually two classes, and two days of presentations. Almost all of the students took the project very seriously and made clear presentations of their ideas. It seems as if they fell into three categories: an addition to the west, connecting the garage and the house with a studio, or a separate building to the east. After the second critique, I walked around the property with Holly, offering my own suggestions, trying to consider her needs as well as the feasibility of construction by Geof. On Saturday Mark and I went back and all four of us walked around, standing in different spots so Holly could go inside and see if a building where we stood would affect their views.

I love architecture and building, probably inherited from my mother, though I never considered it for myself (though my sister became an architect). Of course the reading and discussions has made me think about buying land and starting over--really getting it right this time. I don't think we are going to move any time soon, but it has to be sooner than later if we are going to do it in our lifetimes. Going into a classroom full of young people coming into their own strengths and ideas was so invigorating. It did make me miss being a teacher and how vital it is for everyone involved (teacher and students) in a studio where questioning is encouraged, and all ideas are allowed expression.

Now I am reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It focuses more on Mamah Borthwick than Frank Lloyd Wright, fleshes her out in a different way than in T.C. Boyle's book, makes her dilemma about leaving husband and children for a married man seem more complex than in his book. She was an early feminist, a creative force who couldn't quite find the right outlet for her own intelligence. I feel that Horan has captured many of my own frustrations through her character. Again, this is a novel based on historical figures. Many known facts are accurate, but it is Horan who supplies the angst and internal conversations. Mamah's frustration about how to use her intelligence is hitting me hard, as I see myself spinning my wheels instead of going to my studio. Good books do this, don't they--make you think about your own life and what you are doing with the gift of time.

Well, Holloween came and went in Randolph along with a fierce rain storm. We live in an area where children and parents from all the surrounding villages, as well as our own town, come to say "Trick or Treat!" I was prepared with too much candy, knowing I could bring back unopened packages to the supermarket. Last year we had between 300 and 400 visitors, this year I gave out about 250 pieces of candy. The rain became a deluge just when I was at the bottom of the bowl. I could open another package, knowing I would end up eating most of it since parents and children were running to their cars to get out of the rain, or blow out the pumpkin and turn off the lights. I choose the later (can you see my halo?). Many of the parents, as well as all the children, were in costume. I remember going out with siblings and friends on Holloween--we were allowed to expand our circle wider than just our known neighbors, so I didn't mind giving candy to all these strangers. Plus I got to take alot of nice pictures.

Trick or Treaters--top picks

More Trick or Treaters

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friends from The Netherlands

Mark, Anne Mieke Kooper and Hugo Poelstra at BigTown Gallery

We have had a wonderful week with our friends, Anne Mieke Kooper and Hugo Poelstra, from Amsterdam. Anne Mieke and Hugo have visited us in every place we have lived since 1984 except two places. We met when Anne Mieke and I were both working for Jack Lenor Larsen in NYC in 1984. It was fun sitting around last night comparing our Philadelphia artists' loft spaces, our Brooklyn apartments, the NM straw bale, and our present Victorian beauty. Each had their own good points and we concluded that we are happy to have experienced them all. We share a love of art, and went to see the current Wood Show at BigTown Gallery in Rochester. It is a good exhibition, and looking at the space, they felt it is going to be a good venue for our work. Hugo was a city planner for Amsterdam, at one point in charge of bicycle traffic planning, so of course we went next door to Green Mountain Bikes. The owner, Doon, was so helpful and informative (when was the last time I owned a bicycle? I think 1979 in Lawrence, KS). We will probably get one for Mark in the near future, then one for me, after I try his and if I like it.

I just added a few more images to my Picasa web album of available weavings. I have a closet upstairs where everything is stored, and while I was in Indiana, Mark taped, spackled, and painted it so it is now the perfect storage space for important items. I plan to take digital images of all the weavings so I have a complete record of what is available. It seems easier than trying to get digital images made from slides. Below is one of the weavings I just added, Lampasso for Fra Angelico. There isn't that much written about lampas (we have a good chapter in The Woven Pixel), but John Becker wrote about it in Pattern and Loom. That book, published in 1986, almost went out of print as quickly as it came on the market, and currently used copies sell for exorbitant prices. I was one of the lucky people who bought a copy in 1987. Today Wendy Weiss sent me a link to a site where Donald Wagner has posted the book so people can have it as a free download. Click here to get it. It should be in every weaver's library (as should be The Woven Pixel).

Lampasso for Fra Angelico by Bhakti Ziek

While I am pointing out other web sites, I thought I would send you to the MAIWA post about the unfortunate decision by the Canadian government to deny Ashoke Chatterjee permission to come to a MAIWA symposium. In response, MAIWA organized a video conference, which shows both their commitment to artisans associated with their organization, as well as their ingenuity. A few years ago I had the pleasure of speaking at one of their symposiums, and I left with admiration for everyone involved with MAIWA, as well as envy for the population that lives near them in Vancouver and can attend their fabulous events.

It's so nice to go down to breakfast and see Anne Mieke and Hugo at our table drinking tea (coffee comes later), but I almost missed them the other day because my new alarm clock, the roofers, didn't go off. They are almost done, as you can see below, but had to go somewhere else that morning. We had a fierce rain yesterday, sort of a proofing of the roof--everything dry inside.

Two views of house with its new metal roof

Mark putting up new shingles on dormers

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Colloquy 2009 and a Visit to New Harmony

Images from Colloquy 2009

I had a wonderful week in Indiana, first at Colloquy, then visiting Laura Foster Nicholson in New Harmony. The gathering at St. Meinrad's Guest House has been happening each year for about 14 years, and is a continuation of the gathering that used to happen in Mineral Springs, WI at Ken Colwell's place, The Looms. I was not the only new comer this year, but most of the participants have known each other for years, and this is like a yearly family reunion. Everyone was welcoming and enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about looms and weaving. My talks were well received, and I was able to hear some presentations by others. Brother Kim, who organized the event with the help of Kathy O'Neal (seen above wearing her lovely deflected double cloth scarf), is such a lively person it was hard to get images of him not in motion. He brought a group of us to the Abbey to see some of the vestments. They include some amazing velvets, embroideries, and contemporary woven and constructed garments. I was getting confused between labels such as chasuble and cope, and just focused on the cloth. Brother Kim has woven and sewn some of the garments he showed us, and Murlea Everson, one of the participants, weaves the Bettencourt Collection for Meyer-Vogelpohl.
Seeing some of the vestments at St. Meinrad's Archabby

While we were looking at vestments, some of the others were setting up a three-shaft loom in Brother Kim's studio. His studio has a range of looms that include a computerized dobby and a drawloom. I think visits to other artist's studios are one of my favorite things to do. I also love listening to people talk about their research, especially when they are excited about it. I got to hear Teena Tuenga make a presentation on the weaving she has done exploring color and weave, using parameters presented by George Best during a previous Colloquy. Her presentation really explained why these people gather each year--for friendship, yes--but because they encourage and inspire each other to explore their interests in weaving further. I felt very honored to be asked to talk to them, and to be able to share Colloquy 2009 with them. Plus I feel like I have a dozen new friends.

Brother Kim's weaving studio

Teena Tuenga making a presentation of her research

New Harmony is close to St. Meinrads, so my friend Laura Nicholson, who lives there, came to get me and we had our own form of reunion and textile inspiring discussions. I visited her two years ago, and seriously considering moving there, and once again I found this small modern community built on the memory and ruins of a Utopian community quite fascinating. Main Street, where Laura has her LFN Textile Studio, could be main street in almost any small town USA, except Docey Lewis has her design studio right across the street from Laura's--and how many main streets can boast two brilliant textile designers? When you visit the Harmonist buildings, the Visitors Center/Atheneum is a Richard Meier building, and the Roofless Church is a Philip Johnson building. So you see homage to both the past and the present sitting side by side.

Images of New Harmony, IN

Of course, for me, Laura's studio is the most interesting place in New Harmony. The New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art is housed in the same building and all the works in the current print exhibition are shown on their current webpage. Below you see Laura standing in front of her edition of 20 pin cases (I bought two--one for me and one for a friend). You can also see her in her studio. She didn't really want me to take that picture but I love the activity that so clearly shows on her table. She is a force of creativity, and definitely one of my heroes. I also came home with one of her eye sachets--she said I should put it on my eyes and it will help me relax and sleep (it is full of flax and lavender, I think)--but really just looking at it is a feast for my eyes and will bring me much happiness. You can see all the souvenirs I came home with in the final picture. Interesting that Kathy O'Neal gave me an old ribbon loom shuttle (from Henry Riehl and Sons of Philadelphia) and then I bought my most recent additions to my LFN ribbon collection. I never make anything with these ribbons, just keep amassing them--I want one of every design--and always I bring them to show students. Aren't they beautiful?

Laura Foster Nicholson in front of her printed pin case on left and with her ribbons on right

Souvenirs of my trip include LFN ribbons and a ribbon shuttle