Saturday, August 11, 2012

Navigating Truth

Here is a picture of the top of the Chinese chest that is in our dining room. Does it look like I am someone who would enjoy craft fairs?

Some objects we have collected in our travels.
Ethnographic fairs--YES--but craft fairs....? Yesterday, however, I dragged my husband away from painting the house (thunderstorms) and down to a famous one in New Hampshire. Once again I find myself thinking that I should try to make functional textiles; that the economic climate is only good for the .000001 percent of the artists who are showing in top NYC galleries; and that $25 is probably the price point of what most people are willing to spend on non-essentials. I thought maybe I would get inspired by seeing what others are doing. Instead I found myself thinking of one of Fran Lebowitz's statements in Public Speaking (the Martin Scorsese excellent documentary on this outrageous and brilliant writer). She was telling an audience that just because you think something doesn't mean you have to write it--in fact, please don't share it with us. If I remember correctly, she even specifically mentioned blogs (I do note her words, even as I ignore them and write). So change writing to THINGS and you know how Mark and I felt at the fair.

There was a bright spot though in the middle of the tents, where Sarah Heimann had a booth of her beautiful, incredibly intricate carved ceramics. Seeing her work was worth the price of admission. One of her pots would look very good indeed on our Chinese cabinet top.

Sara Heimann with her wonderful hand carved ceramics.

This might not seem related, but I have been busy reading cookbooks and chef's memoirs this summer. Have you read Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton? I might not want to become her close friend (and what is the likelihood that I will ever get a chance at that?) but I loved her book and the truths she writes. I related to so many things she wrote about, relating her chef's experiences to my weaving experiences--being invited to a panel on women's chefs and getting quieter and quieter as she internally compared the reality of her life to the bromides of enthusiasm the others were throwing out; or her "lack of enthusiasm" as she approached Vermont thinking about people in cars going the other way "...fellow travelers, people like us who enjoy other human contact and human activity and who don't need to be secluded on a hundred acres without even a house pet..." And now I am almost done with Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. I know I could never keep up with his drugs, and drinking, sex, and rock and roll but I really get it when he talks about good chefs failing when they stop doing what they do well and think they can do everything. So maybe I won't go the functional textile route, other than for my own use, or if I do, I will have to stay close to my personal likes and my strengths, and ignore the market research of finding out what others are selling.

Scale model of upcoming exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum
(work by Fuyuko Matsubara on back wall, Deborah Carlson on side wall, and Bhakti Ziek's Nomad on right wall)

In light of that wisdom to stay true to one's self ("Follow your bliss" is the way Joseph Campbell put it), I am refinishing the six panels of my weaving Nomad. I am going to be in an exhibition at The Fuller Craft Museum opening September 15, 2012 with an artists' reception on Sunday, September 30th. Cyndy Barbone, Deborah Carlson, Fuyuko Matsubara and myself will be exhibiting together. Cyndy and I put together a scale model of the exhibition and decided I should put the panels together. That led me to decide that I should stretch them onto bars so I can exhibit them taunt--the way I see the cloth on the loom--the way I like seeing the work as I make it--the way I intend it in my mind. It was going to cost almost $700 to purchase frames and canvas, and they still would have to be put together (by Mark, of course) so I was thrilled when he said he could make them from scratch (another words, stop painting the house for a week and work for me). So it is only costing one-quarter of the purchased price and it is much better because these are exactly the size I need.

Panel 2 (of 6) from Nomad by Bhakti Ziek, 2010

When I was weaving Nomad, thinking about how large the world is, how vast the ocean, how dark the deep waters on a night without the moon, remembering living on an island in the Yucatan for eight months where the sound of the waters was always with me, I could see that the words, which map places I have lived or travelled and that take the shape of the continents of the earth, were very subtle, floating in and out of the ground water. I decided to give myself permission to be as subtle as possible, to create an experience where one has to sit with the piece and look long and hard before the piece revealed its secrets. I know I have created a difficult work for these times, where looking seems to need big panels of explanation next to a work, or a voice tour that you access as you tour an exhibition, or those recently ubiquitous QR codes. But I hope the new installation will invite some people to look, experience, and be inspired. A dark night, moonless....just you and the vastness of the ocean, the sky, the air, your memories, and your thoughts.

Just want to end by saying I had a wonderful day at King Arthur Bakery last month, the gift of my generous friend Steve Ford (superb baker and artist extraordinaire, partner in Ford/Forlano). He took me to a sour dough bread workshop (Amber Eisler was the excellent teacher), and Mark to a rye bread workshop. They have remodeled their facilities and the class room was terrific. I still have to learn my way around the new store, but I am sure I will.

Amber Eisler teaching sourdough bread making at King Arthur; Steve Ford and Clive in middle picture left; the classes beautiful results bottom right.


  1. No, I don't think you're a craft fair person, but yes, you can find good work anywhere if you look hard enough. Loved this post and I wish you the best at Fuller Craft Museum. Beautiful bread! And I enjoyed Blood, Bones & Butter too.

  2. alice knows you so she knows what she's saying. i don't know you, but i agree with what she says.
    most craft fairs are for people who "commit" art.