Sunday, August 9, 2009

Each Day a New Arrival

"This being human is a guest house, each day a new arrival..." is how Rumi's poem The Guest House (as translated by Coleman Barks) begins. Well the other day the new arrival was not as sweet as some of them. The exhibition on Indonesian textiles scheduled for Bard, and all the events surrounding it, including the demonstration of weaving processes that I was to do, have had to be cancelled due to construction delays on the gallery. I am so disappointed, but it did introduce me to some interesting colleagues as well as increase the books I have on Indonesian textiles. And while I was ordering them, I also found an amazing book on Indian printed textiles using mordants. So always some good, along with the bad.

I am reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, which is going to be the next book discussion at Kimball Library here in Randolph. It is fiction but every word resounds with the truth of a lived life. It is making me think about how we construct our stories, cast ourselves in both good and poor light, carefully editing to create the picture we want others to see. So what I include or don't include in this blog is a form of posing. No matter how honest I want to be, through inclusion and exclusion, I am fabricating a public persona.

From left around the table: Liz, Anne, Mario, Mark, Marianne, Derek, Isaac, Susanna

Of course I want to include the wonderful dinner party we had the other night in honor of Anne Lindberg and Derek Porter. Anne just installed a new large piece in an exhibition H2O in Newport, NH--close enough for them to visit and for us to see her work. Anne was second year to Liz, Marianne, and I being first year at Cranbrook. Age has nothing to do with being the elder here. She was a great role model in school, and has continued to be an inspiring and cherished friend. Mark and I were able to get to spend time with her and Derek when we lived in Lawrence, Kansas (2000-2002) since they are residents of Kansas City. It has been wonderful to watch their lives bloom in terms of creativity and success. Since Derek is also the Director of the MFA Lighting Design Program at Parsons/The New School, we can figure out some NYC gatherings, or try to draw them back to Vermont.

Saturday Mark and I drove to Boston for the day, to meet my sister Robin, and her children, Daniel and Molly, up from Maryland. This really was a widening of the circle for us. It is three hours to Boston, a reasonable one day trip. When we lived in New Bedford, MA, we went up there sometimes--usually to the galleries or museums, but we had never been to the Peabody Museum at Harvard. So we met Robin and Daniel there. The fourth floor, with its old cases, wood silky soft from the touch of so many hands over the years, is totally inspiring. Each case is full of objects; many are textiles. it is the kind of exhibition that is out of fashion, as one can see when contrasting it to the exhibits on the other floors which have computer-screens and videos and lights and whistles and lots of visitors with children. This floor was empty except for us--a real treat.

Mark looking at objects on 4th Floor of Peabody Museum

On the third floor, the Peabody is connected to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and we went across to see the Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants, made by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka from 1886 to 1936. They show that their makers paid careful attention to the smallest detail of the living plants, and used the most careful craftsmanship to execute models that seem to breath. Since I am enjoying all the colors and variety of the flowers around Randolph this summer, and trying to capture them in my weavings (will post images soon), I was definitely awed by this room. We might have missed this wonderful collection if Laurie Sverdlove hadn't mentioned it to me when I told her we were going to the Peabody.

Mark, Robin and Daniel studying the glass flowers

One of the Glass Flowers in the Ware Collection at Harvard Museum of Natural History

Now that we have gone to Boston once, I think we will go back soon to see the other museums and galleries. Going into town from the north seemed really different than from the south. We did manage to get lost, both going in and out of town. Next time a good map will be our companion. When we got on I-89, I felt a great sense of peace--ah, the road to home.


  1. After you've finished reading "Crossing to Safety," go for "Angle of Repose," another wonderful Stegner book.

    Too bad about the Indonesian textiles program. I hope they reschedule it. In the meantime, how about making a quick trip down here to DC, where there's a special exhibit at the Textile Museum of Pres. Obama's late mother's collection of textiles from the years that they lived in Indonesia?

  2. I just checked it out--it is only there from August 9-23. Won't work for my schedule but I would if I was in your area. Thanks for the information Ruth. There are some good shows coming up--ikats in 2010 I will definitely go see. Maybe we can meet there.

  3. Hey! Been keeping up with your blog and now finally commenting!
    I just got back from NYC, visiting my sister in law. She, too, is a textile artist(knitting and embroidery). We had a great time exploring museums, Cooper-Hewitt (felt exhibit!), The Met (Japanese Mandals), and the Folk Art Museum (quilts). She rarely goes...too busy with daily life and me... although living in the beauty of the NC mountains am not near this type of beauty. Had a great time 'exploring together".

  4. I think getting lost in and out of Boston is part of going there, even with a good map! I always factor "lost time" into any trip to Boston.

    This is an inspiring post, I'll have to get up to the Peabody, I don't think I've been. If you ever want a museum companion, let me know. It would be fun to meet you there.