Creative Lineage

I'm not saying my mother didn't judge. She just never asked a lot of questions. That was her gift.

We lived in Perry, Kansas in a rented farmhouse when I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. Later we moved to Topeka. I rode the bus to the downtown library, spent hours perusing and choosing between Laura and Willa Cather. Then rode the bus home anxious to devour their stories. Laura lived in Kansas also. Therefore, in my mind, we were connected. In my mind we had a personal relationship. It was 1958.

Thirty years later I read Of Women Born by Adrienne Rich. Her edict for women to write the truth about their experiences no matter how painful became my mandate. I was validated. I wrote short, suscinct poems describing my life, then shared them in a community writing class taught by my feminist friend, Lucinda. Feeling Like a Shitty Mother. Discovering the Other Woman. Defining Rape to my Sixteen Year Old Daughter. Lucinda read my work and said, "this woman has something to say.

I read my first poems at an open mic at a bar. Since a number of my poems were about sex, I dressed sexy. Classy sexy. With a slight edge. Not trashy. I dressed to be seen and to be heard. Tables in the front circled the mic. A spotlight defined the stage. An audience gathered, prepared to listen. In the back, a silhouette of men sat at the bar engaged in a low chatter as the poetry reading began. I walked into the light, leaned into the mic and said in a clear voice, soft, yet firm, "this poem is on discovering the other woman." The entire bar fell silent.

I spoke. I was heard. I listened to the applause. I read more poems. I was serious, and yet I heard unexpected laughter. I paused, gazed at the women sitting at the tables in front of me. Why are they laughing? I asked myself, silently. This is my life. Then I realized it was a laughter of recognition.

Yes, this is my life and it is your life and in the absurd details, we are one. We are connected. We have nothing to fear. I let the laughter wash over me as one sordid detail after another revealed itself. After heartbreaking decisions appeared next to painful despair giving birth to a temper tantrum so outrageous there was nothing left but humor and laughter and the revelation of the degrees to which the absurd rules.

In 1989 I went to the Women Writers Conference at the University of Kentucky. I attended a Spiderwomen Theater performance. In a dramatic moment towards the end the women turned to the audience, pointed their fingers at us and said, "tell your own story." My mission was defined. In 1990 I organized poetry readings. I was seeking women with the courage to walk to the mic. I asked if they wanted to read their poems. I wasn't interested in credentials. There was no editorial intervention. I didn't ask any other questions.

Today, I create art to wear for women who don't need to answer questions.

Botanical Print Silk Devore Crop Top

Botanical Print Silk Devore Crop Top

Notice Everything

I made a fire this morning 

not that it's cold outside 

I just like the glow 

and the little bit of heat 

a small fire brings 

Shibori dyed silk jacquard poncho

Shibori dyed silk jacquard poncho

It is raining 

actually more like a drizzle 

I took Highlin' for a walk 

along the path 

into the woods 

it's our regular walk

the path is worn 

wet leaves have smashed into mud 

Botanical prints,  leaves on silk

Botanical prints,  leaves on silk

I am careful not to slip 

I have fallen three times

a warning to walk more carefully 

well of course 

isn't that what we are always supposed to be doing 

walk carefully 

not as in be careful you might say the wrong thing

make the wrong move 

as in walk carefully and notice

everything

During this morning's walk

there was broken glass 

on a green, moss covered rock  

it was placed there carefully

that is not uncommon 

broken glass on the trail

I frequently place chipped or broken dishes in the woods 

a form of installation

a dinner party 

Shibori dyed silk poncho

Shibori dyed silk poncho

This glass was more shattered 

than my usual place settings 

and it was on its own earthy green rock

I don't remember placing if there 

could it have been Larry

has he taken up my recycling, upcycling, repurposing penchant

Upcycled jean jacket with felted wool and silk

Upcycled jean jacket with felted wool and silk

Could it have been a guest 

should I ask 

should I seek an answer

could it have been a stranger on our path 

that would be disturbing 

I will wait and wonder 

ponder 

enjoy its beauty 

the contrast

That was the message in Catherine's photo blog

that is her mission 

to notice everything 

just outside her door 

and photograph it 

I will notice everything

just outside my door

I will see with my words

Ripe and Tough

What pages were torn out of the journal? No one will ever know, tossed to the floor, not crumbled, no chance of going insane as Hemingway suggested. Do you think he began to crumble his pages before his depression and eventual suicide as implied in the movie we watched last night "Hemingway & Gellhorn." Being kind to ourselves, my husband and I are reading Hemingway out loud to each other. We skipped last night and watched a movie instead. Not sure it was a good idea. And, I'm not sure aboutNicole Kidman's bright red lipstick as she portrayed Gellhorn during her war correspondent days. Was it a fashion statement? Was it to imply that she was ripe in contrast to her later years when she wore no lipstick on at all? Or that she was tough, could handle anything? As an ageless goddess I am in my later years. I like to wear red lipstick. For me it's about color and balance and brightness. Today I will iron red fabric. A bright rusty red. Silk and linen. Ripe and tough.

Memory of Color

Growing up, there were always flowers, as evidenced in photos or memories.

My mother, Grace, grew red roses in front of the two bedroom, added onto to make four, ranch, on Eveningside Drive in Topeka. Purple irises bloomed on the side and pale blue bachelor buttons gathered across the back along the fence.

In Tachikawa, Japan she learned Ikibana, the art of flower arrangement.  They graced the buffet and changed weekly.

A hedge of red roses framed the front yard of the old frame house in Roaring Springs, Texas where the man who invented the cotton gin once lived. As the years passed and the hedge thickened, cars passed slowly by just to see Grace's roses.

Suddenly, my cabin is filled with orchids. It just happened. All I do is place three ice cubes in each pot, weekly. It must be the light. Our cabin is filled with light.

Everything about me, all my memories show up in my shibori art to wear.  Today in velvet I see orchids and roses and green leaves.

Vision Quest

The iridescent leaves shimmer in morning light 

moisture clinging to each dried leaf 

drizzling rain a soft serenade. 

the making of space for winter has begun 

the forest opens up 

more tall willowy tree trunks appear 

we walk deeper the dogs and I 

they ever grateful for this privilege they demand 

wagging their tails waiting as I arise 

the brandy of browns and deep burgundy 

await my vision quest for meaning of each new day 

affirming the love I have for life 

balanced between growing awareness as each day passes 

that every life has a beginning and end

a transition so subtleyet instant 

as in one day as I walk the trees are green the next Golden

how did that happen so suddenly, I ask

I must pay better attention, I warn

my footsteps are no longer spring soft on the path of grass and dirt

they crinkle, crunch a deep serenade 

the brandy of browns and deep burgundy 

await my vision quest for meaning of each new day 

You Will Love This

It may sound trite when I say I make my art for you. I don't know you personally. I do know about you. I know about your desire for passion and wisdom. To express your long earned authority. And for intimacy, those close connections you find in family and friends where you can just be you and express yourself freely with no concern for being judged or criticized or need to defend your beliefs 

In these ways we are the same. We have lived long. We have courted danger. We have loved life.

What makes us unique is our failures have not brought us down. We stand tall and walk forward knowing we have something to pass on. We have a legacy

So it is not trite when I guide my vibrant shibori silk under the needle, watch it ripple and gather graciously, marvel at its beauty, ponder how ravishing it is and know that you are going to love wearing the art I create. 

I am not praising me. I am praising the inner workings of my soul that has brought all the pieces of creating together to make this masterpiece. Yes, in that moment, when exquisite colors have found their way into my silk. I am thrilled and can't wait to share it with you.

A form of my inner life is embodied in the fabrics I take into my hands and shapes each piece. and I say, “you will love this.”

It is not trite 

You will love this!

You will love this!

How to Buy Art to Wear

What I know about you is that you are passionate, you have wisdom from a life well lived, you express what you know with authority and you desire intimacy.

"Our souls crave intimacy"—Erwin Raphael McManus

In order to know what to buy think about how you intend to wear your art;

casually

or for special occasions?

What fabrics are you drawn to; heavier silks like crepe and charmeuse, uber light paj or devore burn-out, medium nuno felted wool, rayon and linen or heavier hemp and wool?

Think about color. Not particular colors. Palettes. Are you the tones of fall, shades of winter, pale tints of spring of bright summer? Are you cool or warm?

My wearables are loose fitting, tribal in design. Their function is to accent the colors and layers you are already wearing. They are meant to be comfortable, first. They are designed to add texture and movement, to sculpt a particular silhouette.  They are meant to be worn.

When you clothe your body, you are sculpting a vision you have of yourselves. A vision that is beautiful and strong, luscious, sensuous and sensual, curvilinear, voluptuous and soft, assured and confident, fluid and flowing.

The textures, shapes and colors you place on your body tell a story and becomes your sculpture.  They are all in response to the  many messages you have received and written. 

When you choose to wear art, you step outside your traditional decision making process into a realm of unlimited possibilities. In order to do so you must ask yourself a few basic questions.

What is my bottom line? 

This is not directly about money but it can be if you don't want to waste money buying beautiful wearable art you never wear. You want to know what is most important to your self expression.  Mine is shape and function. Whatever I wear, the the shape must reflect a silhouette I desire, it must be comfortable and make me feel beautiful. 

I want what you place on your body to be in harmony with the world that surrounds you. The reason that is challenging is because there are so many man-made colors, it can get complicated and conflicting with the natural terrain and all her colors. All my shapes and colors are meant to compliment and contrast the world surrounding you, the colorful world of Mother Nature, her curvaceous lines and soft belly.

You Have To Have Vision

“You have to have vision,” I heard my mentor, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, say from across the room.  He wasn’t talking to me.  He was talking to one of his students.  I was fortunate to be working on the FeltLOOM in his classroom and could listen.  

You have to have vision.  

How true, I now realize.  And vision is different than a plan.  A plan comes second.  A plan comes after the vision has been defined and chosen. We can have many visions and focus is where determination comes in. 

What vision do I want to focus on?

In the past there was the vision for the move back to Kentucky.  The transition was smooth and provided us with the amazing cabin we now live in.  Today, there is the vision from my art, each piece of shibori dyed silk using carefully chosen colors creates many versions of wearable art.  

Today, in order to keep from getting bored and to keep from repeating myself, I begin a new vision quest asking myself, “what do I want?” This becomes the quintessential question, the question most necessary to keep in the forefront of my mind everyday.

Today, I say to myself, I want each piece of art I make to become part of an intentional ensemble from the beginning of the vision.  

Since I discovered the power of gathering around me only what I like, life is easier.  While I realize it can become cluttered, I leave room for those moments when “opportunity knocks.”  These are the moments when my questions are being answered, ever so subtly. 

What do I want to explore? 

Energy.

Everything contains energy. My vision. My art. My cabin in the woods.  It’s why I surround myself with art.  Wearable art.  Art on the wall.  Art on the floor.  Art in the garden.  Art I serve my delicious food in. The art in my home, the handmade items I look at, use, wear, are closer to the maker, and the energy is more intense.  It is stronger, hence more transferable to me.

You have to have vision.

Even my Garden Girls remind me of this fact when they talk about writing.   In my creative writing I invented the Garden Girls to accompany me on my quest to take risks and live the layered life of an artist.  

“How do you find the words?” Rose asked.

“Look at your hands,” Clove said.

“I think you mean that’s really all I have to do.” Rose said.

“Of course I mean it,” Clove said. “Look at your hands, Rose it’s all in your body, in the way you walk, the way you smile, the way you think. Look at your hands and take a deep breath and you’ll find the words.”

The thought was exciting, physically. Rose felt her body move. Mentally she felt her mind churn. “Let’s write together again,” she said, “the next time we can claim a moment to own.”

In writing, Rose was seeking passion, the passion that gets you excited and keeps you awake at night. Rose was always passionate; there was no getting around it. She wasn’t ever going to give it up. To be able to create passion, that’s what freedom is, that’s what life is; just keep on writing because what else is there? Sometimes preachy thoughts showed up, talking to Rose, but she listened only when she had to. Mostly there were other sounds to consider— the voices and the quiet. When the voice was soft and the message was sweet love was all around it. Mostly when Rose heard the voice it meant listen.

When ideas were overwhelming, she’d take long hot baths, one right after another. The writing challenged her not to divert her eyes, keeping them on her vision which is to keep on moving, not stopping, except to meditate, watch her breath, while looking at her hands to find the words waiting, and believing they will come, because they’re right there in the table, the light, and window.

First I’ll make a list, a quick one, Rose decided. “Do I write it all down? Do I make notes?” She asked Clove.

“You can,” Clove said, “or you can just look at your hands. It’s in your body, Rose it’s all in there.” 

“Do you realize that you are saying there are no right answers. You are saying that whatever I say is okay, to just be me and say it. Take the risk.”

What does it take to become a Garden Girl? A desire made manifest, to discuss intimacy, passion, wisdom, and authority. And take risks.  

Today, I take a deep breathe.  What I want is in my body.  I begin a new exploration of layering fabric, color and textures creating statement wearable art ensembles. 

Green the Color of Growth

Of course, green is what is needed. 

It is the color of balance and self-reliance. 

The essence of your body is 

    the ever flowing river 

the ever winding road

movement and rhythm

    an idea, constantly evolving 

    a cloud full of energy, swirling

Let your soul skin cloak be the art you wear,  your guide.

As you bloom

find grace.

Access your deepest resource

    nature’s intellegence

Sit in your garden regularly

Let your blooming be an inspiration

And continuous revelation

Refashion your purpose in life

Refashion your lifestyle

Your lifestyle

is where your new growth takes place. 

Your body knows what's good for you.  

    Listen. Seize her wisdom.

    Know when to walk away

And

    Stay focused on your amazing creative journey

You Can Wear Any Color

Blue green, crepe tuniic with devore shawl

Blue green, crepe tuniic with devore shawl

Walking in the woods yesterday, I saw the same brown I am dyeing for a mother of the bride statement kimono and tank dress.  It was in the leaves left over from last fall; deep, rich, rusty, copper, with a touch of dark forest green.

Even though the leaves came from last fall, now aged into late spring, they held their vibrancy.  Who would think that the colors of spring would include the age of fall? Clearly, every color can be found any season.

How did I get on my color path, my artful path, my path of self expression?  

I let go.

One day when I was on my lunch hour from my first office job, I was drawn into a store that sold a more expensive line of clothing than I was inclined to buy.  I was 20.  I was a Sears or JC Penney girl. It was a risky step.  I decided that I would try on pants and blouses that were bright and brilliant. The pants were orange and fuchsia.  They were each paired with a floral blouse. They were not the bright and brilliant colors of summer.  They were subtly toned, as the leaves are when they slowly change. Not my usual choice.  I gazed in the mirror and said to myself,  “I hate this. This is not me.”  I have strong opinions.  I bought it, anyway.  I was tired of buying the same styles and colors over and over.  I wanted to feel what it was like to wear something different.  A relatively safe risk.  

My dad loved it.  I never thought of him as a stylish person, in his USAF uniform or week end overalls. In hindsight, as I peer into his old black and white photographs, I discover he had a very strong since of composition. His was not the only compliment I received.  This began my journey, not only of exploring colors, also in taking risks with self expression.

You can wear any color, dare I be so bold to say.  It’s not about what looks good on you, it’s about what makes you feel wonderful.  You are part of nature.  All colors are part of nature.  Find yourself in the rainbow, it is very large, full and forgiving, as you are. It’s not that you can’t wear part of the rainbow at anytime, its that some parts have blended and rearranged so the derivative is no longer recognizable.  

In order to determine your place in the rainbow, remember your favorite season.  Find it by listening to your body.  To which season are you most drawn? Listen to your friends and their compliments. Write it all down.  Are you spring where the colors are soft, or summer, where the colors are bright, bold, and brilliant? Are you sometimes a little of both?  Getting to know your self through color is an exciting journey you are now ready to embark upon.  

Are you most present in the toned leaves of fall and their bright counterpart, jewels against the sky?  Are you in your element in the deep rich and luscious shades of winter, the spruce, and burgundy?  All these seasons come and go as you do. You know what you like.  What feels good.  

Let’s begin with your favorite season, where memories have lived the fullest. Coffee, chocolate, semi sweet, bitter or milky?  It’s the season you are drawn to that will determine your palette. How to choose your palette?  Ask, what do I like?  Then break it down.  

Let me start with brown.  Deep dark, aged, fall leave brown.  Browns emerge from all color.  The brown I am seeking now emerges from yellow and purple, her compliment.  Purple and yellow are buried in my new found brown.  They create copper and rust.  As the exploration continues, many colors will appear.  And they will be your colors, ready to mix and match and enjoy.  They will tell a story.  They will tell your story.

You can wear any color. It’s easy.  Nature has already begun to cleanse your canvas when she added grey to your hair.  If you choose color to you hair, are you more drawn to yellow or blue? If you have highlights, are they gold or ash.

Shall we collaborate?  Just tell me what you feel.  This is how you will tell me who you are.  What do you like?  How tall are you?  How full are your hips?  What are the colors of your skin, your eyes, your hair, (is it dyed or natural)? The answer to these questions are the beginning of designing your personal, art to wear, composition.

 

 

Art for the Breeder's Cup

Thank you, Kentucky Arts Council for taking the time to organize a gallery market for Kentucky artist to make our beautiful art available to all the amazing people that will be in Lexington for the Breeder's Cup.

I am honored to have been invited.  This lovely shibori dyed velvet devore shoulder shawl is one of the pieces I am taking to the gallery tomorrow.