I’ve just read a useful description of art, especially for these times: that it is always an invitation to step back and observe the world from a different perspective. There are so many viewpoints from which to understand any given thing and most of the time we are too close to actually see, too busy to notice. I like that an artist chooses to observe a thing closely from many directions and then make something that presents their considered impression, their human response to, their informed understanding of it.
What a lovely invitation that is – to step back from what is felt too closely, observe, reflect, and allow a shift in understanding.
Since mom’s death in January I’ve been observing my own inner shifts in awareness. I take a good look at the garden that is my twelve years of blog posting on this site – begun when I was married and building a house, through the intense music years to emerge into this space of expansion and discovery in art practice and presentation. Some of the things I planted before and during those years are – amazingly – still growing, though they’ve been overshadowed by the traumas and triggers that were so insistent on getting my attention. That’s a good way to put it.
It’s lovely to see triggers for what they are. I was triggered to marry the man who taught me to own and clear my baggage, bless you, G. Triggered by my experiences at Laurier and with my beloved ever-helpful mom to fully own my boundaries and understand, deeply and profoundly, that I have nothing to prove to anyone.
Triggers are like invasive plants you can make things out of. You pull them out so the things you’ve seeded for yourself can grow.
I like the way the idea and function of a thing can shift when you step back to consider new choices. My response to the first lockdown in 2020 was most definitely rooted in trauma – global pandemic, panic, our collective anxiety levels through the roof. I made cloth face masks and delivered them to anyone who asked – about 700 people asked, it turns out, and all I did for three months was make (:30 mins / mask) and deliver (gas, postage, miles of driving)- a clear road to burn-out. The end came when I found myself caught in the role of customer service rep to people – some whose anxiety had made them extraordinarily grabby and demanding.
Weed out the anxiety and extremes and two years later, the masks I cut but did not sew have found a new, more appropriate function in this world of perfect storms. I’ve made blankets out of them. The fabric I’d ordered to make still more masks – this has all been curated, along with scarves, ribbons, old pieces of tapestry work, beautiful old dresses from another era – these too are becoming a rainbow of blankets and quilts, no two the same.
I am a visual artist, and by no means a pro quilter. These blankets will not win at the fair (save perhaps in the politely conciliatory category of ‘most inventive’). But they are all warm, fun, sturdy and vibrant and they’re made with love.
Feels like a good thing to do with left over mask materials and whatever else needs a new function in life. Sewing is good for me to do while the paint and ink dries, and I want to do something to help support the Ukrainian people.
The quilts I’ve finished (hoping for a full spectrum ten by then) will be available for purchase online in early May, and at the Cotton Factory Open House on May 7 (studio SH242). I estimate the prices will be $380 to $580 for sizes that range from 45″x60″ to 60″x60″. Ish. They’re good as throws and accents, and they make great comfort blankets with tea and a book on dreich days. A little colour therapy for you.
Proceeds after costs from the blankets will be donated to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in support of the people of Ukraine. Courage and warmth to you all.