Tag: art camp

the janus approach

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we trekked to the cemetery, that stormy morning in april, in search of tombstones to rub, transferring their images to our cloths. as we pulled away from art camp with susan lenz two days later – i mean, we were literally about to back out of the parking lot – i got a call that my friend valerie along with her husband and their daughter had died when their house burned.

who knew cloth could commit foreshadowing . . .

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right on the heels of that, another call that my 32 year old cousin billy – who, over the past 14 months had endured everything science had to throw at his cancer and was waiting for tests in june that would determine the success of those treatments – was not doing well. in less than 2 weeks, he went from eating a bowl of grits at the kitchen table to back in the hospital for more tests. that was saturday, 4/26. on monday (4/28) came the news that the cancer had spread to his brain. on tuesday (4/29) came the news the cancer had spread to his spine. a week later on sunday (5/4), billy was moved to hospice. last night he took his last earthly breath.

“come make him laugh,” his mother mary said when she called me. my husband, mother, and i spent that wednesday afternoon at his bedside telling the old familiar family stories. legends, really. i told the same ole’ stories – even used the same ole’ words – and we still laughed till our sides split. stories are like that.

days later, his mother pulled her chair up close to billy’s bed and let the memories spill right out of her heart. for more than two hours, she told billy good memories she has of him. “i just wanted him to go out with lots of good memories,” she told me. i don’t know about you, but i can’t think of a finer send-off.

he’s only 32. billy is only 32 years old, and i just want to go on record saying that i find it especially cruel that a mother has to bury a child (especially so close to mother’s day) and that a 32 year old as good and fine as billy should die in the spring.

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today we bury another cousin, a quiet man who served in the vietnam war. he didn’t raise his hand to go, but when he was called, he went. my last memory of theron is of him telling stories about our grandparents. i was throwing a family reunion in my backyard, and i’d asked everybody to jot down their memories of grandmother and granddaddy so i could include them with the cookbook of grandmother’s recipes i’d created. not much of a writer, theron called me and talked for more than 3 hours, spilling one precious memory after another. to this day, i cherish those hours spent sitting on the back deck, looking around at all that needed to be done in preparation for the reunion, but not even really seeing it as i trekked down memory lane with theron.

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it’s been an emotionally rough spring.

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that’s not the whole story, though . . .

i just got a text message from my sister-in-law, carole, that her daughter/my niece will not be having her baby today – her labor will not be induced, anyway. we’ll just have to see what mother nature has to say about things.

tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of my beautiful, precious daughter’s birth. on March 19 of this year, she had a partial thyroidectomy. she’s an actor and a singer, so of course we were on pins and needles about someone cutting on her throat. but my brother-in-law donn steered us to a surgeon who did an outstanding job as you can very well hear for yourself.

later this month we’ll join in merriment and shenanigans when my son kipp married the lovely and long-necked marnie. you’ll surely be hearing more about this as the days roll on. (i’m “foreshadowing” over on facebook, if you’d like to connect there. you’ll need to be logged in for the link to work.)

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we have memories. oh good lord, do we have memories – and that’s something you just can’t buy, regardless of how much money you have. memories . . . stories . . . those are treasures far greater than any amount of gold or silver or real estate. greater than any fleet of planes or drawers of diamonds or walls filled with paintings.

stories are art. so let’s get on out there and make some art today, why don’t we.

(but maybe forego the tombstone rubbings.)

(just sayin’.)

The Engineer & The Artist Do Art Camp: Day Three

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Communion 12

I’ve long ached for an epiphany – for things to come whooshing in, connecting, clarifying, lining up. I’ve witnessed it happening to other women, and I’ve held the space for women so it could happen for them, but I’ve never had The Big Epiphany myself . . . until 4:50 this morning when I woke up with a start and clarity like I didn’t know was possible. I saw cloths, I transcribed my artist statement, I knew what I do and do not want to do. I couldn’t turn the light on, though, cause Andy was sleeping, so I just sent myself an email and when I copied it into my journal later this morning, it filled almost 20 pages. Astonishing in every way.

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Communion 10

(Communion is the series where I stitch what conversations with Nancy look like.)

I designed eleven cloths today, basting each one of them so that they’re ready to stitch. Yes, that’s right: eleven.

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Andy threw some more pots, but honestly, I’ve lost count. Late in the afternoon, I did accept an invitation to join the potters who convened on a nearby bar for drinks, and what a fun bunch they are! After supper, it was back to the studio for me. I could stay here forever.

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The Engineer and The Artist Do Art Camp: Day Two

“breakfast starts at 7:30,” he says in a bit of a startle when the alarm clock goes off at 7:10 this morning.

“so?” i say, rolling over for (at least) a 10-minute snooze.

“so we need to get moving,” he says in a tone that’s rather annoyingly urgent.

we have breakfast, and as i look forward to heading directly to the studio to start working on something – anything – he reminds me that class doesn’t start till 9, even though the studios open at 8. his engineer is showing.

when we meet for lunch, he’s thrown another 6 pots:

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AND he tells me that he’s gotten over his bout with perfectionism. i clap a little bit, delighted to know that he’s embraced the wonkiness factor:

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by the time we met for supper, he’d glazed all his pots and finished a face jug:

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[ :: ]

meanwhile, my day started out with a trip to the local cemetery where we did a few tombstone rubbings before the downpour turned us back an hour or so ahead of schedule. this is the one i rubbed:

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back in the studio, i set to work dressing up my key a wee little bit:

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and laying out and basting Rinse Cycle 5:

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as well as Rinse Cycle 6:

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i can’t begin to describe how relaxing it is to spend so much time in the studio. (even if i haven’t yet completely tucked in and shed the outside world.) oh, if my life could be like this.

there is stitching in my immediate future. and a lot of it.

[ :: ]

today’s bonus:
as we left the fiber studio when andy came to pick me up for lunch, i said i wanted to start putting in at least 37.5 hours on writing and stitching each week to which he said “and you need to get your studio so that it’s conducive to creating space wise.” oh man am i ever glad he came now cause after being in this fabulous fiber studio a few times, he sees how important it is to have a space that loves it when you’re creating. even if he hasn’t thought about the fact that i’ll need his help to make changes.

The Engineer and the Artist Do Art Camp, Day One

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honestly, i wasn’t sure how much i’d like being at art camp with my husband. turns out i like being here together. i like it a lot. not only do i have somebody to sit with me at all meals plus a roommate i don’t have to worry about short-sheeting my bed or hanging my underwear on the flagpole or anything such as that, it’s great, big, huge, heartwarming fun to see his work, to see him create. he’s taking a pottery class called Turners & Burners: Folk Pottery of Southern Appalachia, and man is he productive. in the first 3 hours of class on day one, he threw 4 pots and a pitcher.

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“some aren’t smooth and round,” he says in a (surprisingly) apologetic tone.

“they’re wonky, andy” i tell him. “they’re the ones you would buy or at least gravitate to if somebody else made them.”

“i know,” he laughs.

[ :: ]

while andy was throwing pots, i was in a fiber class. not so much productivity for me on day one, but i did make this key:

Key1

and meet susan lenz (the instructor) in person – finally – and see some of her beautiful work up close:

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and also meet rena wood, the textile artist-in-residence:

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“i think of it like doodling with thread,” she says of this puddling effect:

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this piece was done on a vintage tablecloth given to her by a woman who works here. rena dyed it black and started stitching:

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and this piece was inspired by the loss of memory she saw in her grandfather. he was losing his memory as she was building hers:

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[ :: ]

afterwards, there was a bonfire (complete with wine) then more walking hand-in-hand with andy as we strolled through the town.

you know, when i went to camp with my lifelong best friend, dianna, a few decades ago, my mother didn’t send me the first note or letter, even though i left a stack of self-addressed/stamped envelopes ready and waiting. as we settled into orientation, i get a text message from this same mother, asking me the name of the song that played when the ballerina jewelry box was opened. my goodness how things do change.

but hey, they don’t make me drink milk at this camp, so there.