Friday, October 28, 2022

not just 12 notes

I've watched a number of Jacob Collier videos now and his magic is clear.  

It started for me with this one. 

I'm sat here sobbing.

At the sound of a choir.

A choir made of 5,000 untrained singers, otherwise known as an audience.  Fans, probably, mostly.

At the end of the sound they make, the music they've just created together, they clap wildly for Jacob.  They're the ones who made the sound, but he's the one that (one the spot) turned their sounds into song. 

And then got me thinking about the concerts we all go to - and almost every person is singing along, under their breath, or out loud, with each other.  It's inevitable for most of us.  I have moments where I think it's okay to sing the words out loud (I can't even help it!) and other parts of a song I wouldn't wanna hear anyone singing the words but the artist I came to see.

It's the strength of singing together.  Hearing an audience ('choir') of thousands that gives me goosebumps.

And I recognize, at the end of a song that we the audience all sang, we also clap wildly!

As much to thank the artist as to express the energy, the joy we just experienced.  A kind of 'we did it!'

I used to sing in a choir.  I love choirs.  Now I do a lot of singing in the shower and while i'm walking the dog and definitely in my studio with headphones on.  'Cuz no one can hear you that way, right?!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

You Are Not Alone

Remember when you were younger than you are now and you totally thought you were alone: in your thoughts, your feelings, your body oder, your acne, your wants and needs... and then maybe, just maybe, you met that ONE friend who laughed at your terrible jokes, told you she had those thoughts about abbazabbas, too, and those feelings about music and dancing alone in their family room ...that person, whoever they were/are to you, I like to remember, they made us realize, we are not alone in this.

My friend Mel sent out her newsletter recently, and she wrote about a story currently playing out the news : It was about using someone else's photo in your artwork, selling the artwork and not crediting the photographer.   In this particular case, it was in regards to a portrait of Prince and how the Andy Warhol estate used the image.  Also, in this case, the photographer wants recognition and ultimately, money. 

It made me wonder if photographers that take class photos or student portraits would also have that feeing?  Then I realized I actually have a friend who would know! And can answer that strange, possible rabbit hole-like question...
And yes, it has occurred to me the kids in this photo might actually see themselves in my work.  Heck, they may even be following me on social media...Assuming they're teenagers in this photo, I think they'd be in their 60's today...

Monday, October 17, 2022


i wrote this piece in 2017 but never published it.  tho it still feels very pertinent, much, much has changed since then...

“We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch. This is not helpful if on the inside our understanding is that life is more often a cuckoo clock with rusty gears. In the aftermath of loss, we do what we’ve always done, although we are changed, maybe more afraid. We do what we can, as well as we can. My pastor, Veronica, one Sunday told the story of a sparrow lying in the street with its legs straight up in the air, sweating a little under its feathery arms. A warhorse walks up to the bird and asks, “What on earth are you doing?” The sparrow replies, “I heard the sky was falling, and I wanted to help.” The horse laughs a big, loud, sneering horse laugh, and says, “Do you really think you’re going to hold back the sky, with those scrawny little legs?” And the sparrow says, “One does what one can.” 
--Anne Lamott, Stitches

I've been working on getting the kits together for the workshop I'm teaching in France this coming June.  Teaching workshops isn't new, but the approach I take these days is.  I have a very different attitude about teaching, I think, than many who teach crafts, projects, or artistic ways.  I'm coming at it the way I used to with my first graders.  With a sense of meaning that extends beyond the project, the made piece.  I want people to infuse a sense of meaning in the work they make in my classes.  

I am not a fan of just making to make.  I don't particularly enjoy workshops that end with me owning something I don't want or won't use.  I like learning the technique, but as far as the end 'product', it's a rarity that I care about it.  I like to approach my workshops with the attitude:  Let's make something you care about, want to hang on your wall, or put on your shelf, or proudly give to someone as a gift.  With that in mind, the materials I use are important, if not particularly elegant in any way. 

So, for week one of this workshop, which is a souvenir french-flag banner, I am sewing little fabric bags for the kits. The bags are made from an old, gorgeous, linen duvet washed and dried and loved to near shreds (therefore perfect to cut & use in its next life form) given to me as a wedding gift by my Aunt Nancy.  Nancy was my dad's only sister and one of the coolest Meng's I know.  She passed away recently and, in a strange and empty move, I've never formally written to any of my cousins or Uncle and given my condolences.  It's awful and very unlike me.  I think it's very important to contact people, let them know you're thinking of them, at times like these.  I was very focused on my dad and what it meant to loose your only sister.  To be the last of your original family members.  I remember wishing I could just sit in a room with him and let him sob it out.  My dad doesn't sob, so this was purely theatrical thinking on my part, but the idea of it felt cathartic.  And maybe in my fantasy of that scenario, I also sent comfort to my cousins and my Uncle.  Telepathically?  I'm not sure.  I just know I didn't do it formally.  And now it feels too late.  

In French, souvenir means "remembrance" or "memory".  It seems fitting that in Nancy's memory, these linen sacks will hold the current souvenir for these women who travel with us.

And, yet, along with this beautiful linen textile that I pulled out this week, I had another encounter with the spirit of my Aunt Nancy.  A woman in Chicago reached out to me after she had bought a piece of artwork at a resale shop.  She researched my name, signed on the back of the work, and tracked me down.  She sent a photo of the piece and contacted me on various social media platforms asking if I was indeed the artist behind this piece.    This is a piece of art I made years ago that my Aunt Nancy purchased at my first solo, gallery art show.  I remember it so clearly:  There's Nancy standing in front of this piece, titled "Dear John" telling me how much she loved it and that she must have it!  Nancy could match my theatrics beat for beat, and it was always thrilling.  She purchased the work without a moments hesitation.  Lived with her to her end.  And, in the end, homes change, families move, objects get donated.  This is how the woman in Chicago found "Dear John", then found me, and we both found a connection in a piece of artwork that went a long way to make a full circle.

i wish this was the 'dear john' piece, but i cannot find a photo of it!

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Morning Has Broken

Laughing to myself the other day realizing I used to think waking up early was a waste of time.

When the thought occurred to me, i was standing outside watching the birds flirt and a little squirrel dance with seeds he’d just found.  It was around 5:33 am and the light had just enhanced the world around me.  I smiled to myself, and even snickered out loud at my earlier limited thinking.

Having ‘the whole place to myself’ used to be a key reason I gave for not wanting to get up before dawn.  What would I possibly do at that time, I wondered?  

Now, my most favorite time of the day is when it feels like the world is sleeping and i have the whole place to myself.  Turns out, I should have been asking myself what I COULD do with that time.  I get a ton of stuff done between the time I wake up-and-when everyone else seems to emerge.

found this juicy little book at a vide in france this past summer 

Friday, October 14, 2022

In the Garden

a different kind of 'weed' altogether : sea weed

 When I was little and my mom let me help her in the garden, I loved weeding.  I think the reason I loved it so much is because I wasn’t actually weeding.  My mom knew this.  I did not.  What I was doing was pulling the leaves off of the stems of the weeds.  I was breaking the blades of long grass at the tips as my chubby little hand grabbed quickly and pulled even quicker.  I’m not sure I could have actually done the job of weeding.  Not only because I didn’t have the strength to pull a weed up from it’s deeply rooted space, but mostly because I’m not sure I would have had the heart to pull a weed up from its' deeply rooted space.  Weeding requires commitment.  You can’t just stop at the part that breaks off in your tightly coiled fist.  To actually weed means to take that living, growing greenery, find it’s very beginning, its' source, and yank it from the ground.  

Weeding, as an adult, leaves me conflicted.  Yes, I would like this space of dirt to grow something beautiful.  In order to do that, I need to clear the way for those beauties.  Which means, I need to yank out, exclude, and even banish these other plants.  And to do that, I must move slowly, methodically and with precision, pulling up from the earth every last root that is desperately hanging on.  

It’s a strange dichotomy of feeling:  I feel totally satisfied when my fingertips touch, see, hear this long root and all it’s offshoots come up from the dirt and land in my yard-waste pile.  The other feeling is one of destruction of a living thing.  I have stopped the growth of something potentially great.  Most people would argue weeds are not ‘great’— but I think the only difference between a weed and ‘something beautiful’ is naming it.    We call weeds invasive, and invasive has a negative connotation that’s for sure.  And flowers BLOOM.  Now, bloom is a lovely word...

Here's a photo I took of some weeds on the edge of the pavement.  
They grew and bloomed all on their own, with zero caretaking.
The only difference
a weed
and a flower 
is judgement.

-wayne dyer