The House Museum will have some new life this summer! I am activating a space in the house as a place where artists (and non-artists) can explore and play with ideas. I call it BARDO-29 and will inaugurate the space with a salon-style exhibition open to all titled Newfoundland, Real and Imagined. Read about it here!
If you scroll back through posts, you will see one that discussed the Pussy Hat Project that spontaneously happened around The Women's March following the election of DJT in the US. I had some large conversations with people whom I respect about the goal of that project and whether or not it excluded people of color and/or people who identify as women but don't have pussies. (Short answer: it's complicated.) In any event and along the way, I decided to make a hat pattern for the Black Lives Matter movement. One black friend who was part of that conversation asked me, "Will handknit hats really make large gatherings of black people less threatening?" I don't know but I do believe with all my heart in the power that making things with our hands has to change our perspective. And that doing it together can change the world. Call me a dreamer. So - on the chance that knitting can help make inroads among people who might otherwise look away or look in anger, here it is!
Black Lives Matter Knit Hat Pattern
Need: approx 100 yds of worsted weight yarn (I used Cascade 220) in color A (Black) and 25-30 yds of Color B (California Poppy).
Size US 8 16" circular needle and four size US 8 double pointed needles
Yarn sewing needle
Using a worsted weight yarn (like Cascade 220), cast on 92 sts in Color B and join, being careful not to twist stitches. Knit K2, P2 ribbing for 3 rows. Switch to Color A and continue in ribbing st until ribbing measures 2" Change to Stockinette St and knit four rows. Change to Color B and knit two rows, then knit two rows in Color A. Begin Chart A (work right to left). After the last row, knit two rows in Color A, then two rows in Color B. Return to St st in Color A for four more rows.
Begin decrease: knit 9 st, K2tog, (K 8, k2tog) 8X. Knit every stitch next row. NEXT ROW: knit 8 st, K2tog, (K 7, k2tog) 8X.
Continue like this, alternating decrease rows, one stitch fewer each time, with all knit/no decrease rows, switching to double pointed needles with needed. When there are two stitches before the decrease, then make the decreases every row. K2tog until 8 sts remain. Cut yarn with an 8" tail. Use this tail to thread through remaining sts and pull tight to close up hole. Weave in tail through at least 6 stitches around closed hole on the inside of the hat and snip off end. Weave in all ends.
Spring is here and so it seemed appropriate to use a sprouting seed metaphor. I am sitting in my dining room, looking out the back window at the lilac bush that is in full bloom. It is always the first on the block to bloom, with my next door neighbor's following so that we have a solid three weeks of delicious lilac smell to enjoy each spring. This year is a little bittersweet as it will be my last one to sit here with this view. In a few days, I will move all my worldly good out of this house and into a storage unit in upstate NY. I have rented this house for two years during which time I will live in Newfoundland (mostly) and upstate NY.
I will have the option to move back after two years but that seems unlikely. It feels clear to me that this particular phase of my life is coming to an end. You could call it my New York City phase, in which case it would include the entire 34 years that I lived in the city. Or you could call it my Sunnyside phase, which means this house for almost 20 years - raising my children, homeschooling, numerous art projects, divorce, and the kids moving out on their own. It's a lot! This beautiful house is a family house - it wants to hold a family - so it is time for me to explore some other ideas, places, options. The people moving in have a daughter just about the age that my son was when we moved in. And so it goes.
Do we ever really know which is the end and which is the beginning? The faded bloom or the seed? And do we ever really know how long it takes for those seeds to germinate? We think we know. We want to know, but I don't think that we have a clue.
This fact came home to me in a big way just this week, appropriately enough, as I have been packing and cleaning and clearing out 20 years of stuff (more really, since some of it has travelled with me for a long time - just found a box of sketchbooks from the late 1980s!). An old friend and colleague called me out of the blue and told me that his boss saw one of my artworks that is installed at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. It was a project that I did nineteen years ago titled K2tog (Knit Two Together) . I remember it clearly because I was pregnant with my daughter. It also was the first time I thought about knitting as something more than a way to make things - knitting as community, as a bond between people and cultures, a shared language and shared experience of making. The project involved me collecting swatches of knitting and stories of learning to knit. I thought that people coming to Bellevue - people from all over the world - might need to remember that they share more than just illness with everyone else. So I collected the swatches and stories and combined them into one piece that is still there, still encouraging people to stop and look, read, remember this simple idea - we are not so different from each other.
Anyway, his boss saw the work and totally got inspired by the message. It so happens that his boss is in charge of art and cultural programs for the city hospital system. A few days later, I was sitting in his office, talking about how I might make some new projects that bridge cultures and tap into the way making things with our hands offers us a feeling of power and value. It makes us feel good at a time when we really need to feel good. I left with the mandate to come up with some ideas and, with their support, we will make them happen.
It took 20 years for that particular seed to bear that particular fruit. If I had made that work with any kind of expectation of what it might bring next, how sorry I would have been when the calendar flicked along, like in a cartoon where the pages fly off in the wind, and nothing seemed to be happening. It is simply impossible to know when or what or where. In a way, thank goodness for that.
Yes, thank goodness the world has other plans and ideas, and thank goodness for projects that take nineteen years to develop. As I sit here, looking out at the lilacs, I see that, for one thing, I needed to do all my yoga therapy training in order to really make this art project be what it needs to be. Who knows what else needed to happen, but perhaps I will find out as my new ideas begin to sprout.
So, what is the end and what is the beginning? Finishing one thing, starting another - are the lines between them really that clear? And can we have the patience and the trust needed to let it happen?
The Women Artist Team (T.W.A.T.)
Including: Ruth Adams, Laura Allen, Elaine Angelopoulos, Masha Avina, Vivian Baumann, Amy Bay, Diane Bertolo, Caslon Bevington, Susan Carr, Stella Chasteen, Sasha Chavchavadze, Mieling Chen, Robin Dann, Lisa Corinne Davis, Pauline DeCarmo, Colleen Deery, Lauren Drescher, Athena Dugan, Deej Fabyc, Melita Greenleaf, Freeda Handelsman, Marcia Hillis, Paula Lalala, Robyn Love, Jennifer Marshall, JoAnne McFarland, Anne-Marie McIntyre, Eva Melas, Tamalyn Miller, Portia Munson, Hye Ryung Na, Helen Oji, Lourdes Sanchez, Shannon Shook, Carri Skoczek, Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Molly Stinchfield, Julie Torres, Katharine Umstead, Fran Willing, Jessica Willis, Anne Zondek, and more.
Opening: April 8, 2017. 4:00 to 7:00 PM
Refreshments will be served
4/8/2017 thru 5/6/2017
The next three months will be (partly) devoted to exploring skillful means - upaya in Sanskrit. In Zen practice, one might say that zazen is the most skillful of the skillful means but there are lots of other ways to look at it, too. What is the most skillful thing in any given moment? It's not always obvious.
In art making, I have always loved the idea of virtuosity. It is the next step after establishing a level of skillfulness. I remember my Chinese art history professor describing the categories of artists in ancient China, with "skillful" being the lowest - almost an insult. The idea is that anyone can be trained to make nice pictures so it is what you do with that skill that really makes the master. The virtuoso.
In both zazen and art, I have a long way to go before I can lay claim to virtuosity. For the next three months, I especially hope to think about and express what it means to use time skillfully, to use my materials skillfully, to interact with people skillfully. Everyday we make all sorts of decisions - why choose this but not this? So, how do you discriminate among objects and ideas without setting heaven and Earth infinitely apart? I hope to find out.
As part of this exploration, I am going on a social media fast. I truly value how Facebook keeps me connected to people from all areas of my life but I know that I waste a lot of time there too. Will it be more skillful to take a break? Again, let's find out! I suspect it will mean more posts here since I do love to blather on (and on).
And meanwhile, here is a glimpse of the gloves for the performance The Demon Under the Bed. It also signals that I have finally figured out how to add photographs to my blog posts. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.