A Paradoxical Experience

Writing a blog can be a paradoxical experience. On the one hand, you feel a bit like someone's watching you dress in front of a mirror, and on the other hand, you are by yourself (in your studio, office, cafe, fill in the blank...) and no none, even if they are sitting at the table next to you, can see what you're writing.

I'm often reluctant to write about process, because I'm superstitious. Superstitious. As if I write about art before it's made, it will be jinxed, or or more accurately, I'll feel bound to carry out what I said, rather than follow the ideas that come to me in the moment.
I'm breaking with that belief, because I'm playing with an idea. After listening to some of my friends talk about their grandchildren, I've begun to feel a sense of longing for my own grandchild, similar to what I felt when my friends began to have children some twenty years ago. The fact is though (much to my delight) my two kids in their early twenties show no signs of settling down and creating grandchildren anytime soon. 

I've decided instead to create a piece for an imaginary grandchild, someone yet unborn, someone who in fact may never be born. (I told this to my daughter Lizzie last night and she wrinkled up her face as if to say, "Are you kidding Mom? That's just weird.") Weird or not, I'm pursuing it.

A Young Hannah, Age 1

I've been collecting fabrics; my daughter's old organdy curtain flecked with sequins, some pink polka dot pajama pants (passed on to me when Lizzie got bored with them), and pieces of cloth that are shimmery, and remind me of Lizzie, who's a dancer. Why not my son's castoffs? Honestly, he and I would both agree that polo shirts and wind jackets (he's a golfer) don't make for great quilt material.

Remember Where We Moored the Boats, Jill Ault, River Gallery, Chelsea MI
Jill Ault, Remember Where We Moored the Boats

I began working with the fabrics I'd selected, putting up the organdy curtain on my studio wall, sewing quilted squares, and tacking them on, only to discover when I stepped back, that I'd left my own tastes out of the equation. I thought of an Aikido class I'd taken many years ago from  Wendy Palmer, who helps people examine their lives from a variety of different perspectives using Aikido. She says that Aikido, a martial art, "is the perfect structure in which to learn how build powerful connections...and live life with an open heart." She also spoke frequently about the moment when you grasp your opponent's hand and how that moment becomes a blending of energies--"feel the blend and move from that point" she would say.

"Feel the blend." These words spoke to me. How could I blend my energy, the energies of my children and someone imaginary? I discovered an answer when I found the work of artist, Jill Ault. Ethereal and otherworldly, her work seemed to suggest the presence of something beyond what we can see with our eyes. It reminded me of the obvious: to trust the art making process, to return to my own intuitive way of cutting, painting, pasting and connecting all the pieces. To create connections between myself and others beyond what I can see on the surface, the invisible openings of the hearts and minds. Stay posted.