Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chicago Goodbyes

Day Lilies near Millennium Park

Each morning and afternoon I tried to vary my walk between apartment and school, though often it took me through Millennium Park. Yesterday I noticed this cluster of day lilies was in spectacular bloom, and it was a marker of the passage of time that I have been in Chicago. Three weeks earlier there weren't even noticeable buds on the lilies. I felt it was like a metaphor for my class. Many of the students had never dressed a loom before we began, and now they were all busy weaving. They certainly bloomed in these three weeks.

Joan Livingstone and Park Chambers on the ramp of the New Wing of the Chicago Art Institute

If you visit Chicago be sure and make time to visit the New Wing of the Chicago Art Institute. The collection of modern art shows very well in this new space. It also has a wonderful restaurant, and I had lunch there yesterday with Joan Livingstone and Park Chambers. They were colleagues in the Fibers and Material Studies Department at SAIC for many years, though right now Joan is Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Park has retired and moved to New York State. They have both contributed much to the expansion of thinking in fiber studies and work, and are mentors to many artists. I could hardly eat my meal from excitement, but did manage to finish all my dessert and taste theirs too. Joan was wearing the best eyeglasses.

Final jacquard cloth from SAIC class cut off loom today

So today was the final class and I cut off the fabric from the TC-1 while students finished weaving and hemming, or knotting, or twisting ends. In the afternoon we did a final review where each student put up all the work they accomplished in these three weeks. I took a digital image of each of them and their work, and tried to get some details too. I have decided that when I get home I will do a slideshow of the images I took during the class and post a link to it in this blog. Believe me, they all did incredible work, and each one distinct from the others. At the end, one of them took a picture of me holding the plain weave linen that I wove. Although I am ready to go home and can't wait to see Mark, our pets, and our friends, I felt so emotional saying goodbye to these wonderful women who allowed me the privilege to work with them these past three weeks. In a regular semester you don't get to know people in the same way as we did because of the format of the summer program. I don't know if any of them will continue to weave as a major expression of their art (I wish I had a crystal ball), but I do know that the metaphor of blooming lilies is a good one for what happened in this class.

Tamara Malas showing her first ever weavings

Bhakti Ziek showing off the linen she wove

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