Thursday, April 2, 2020

FIONA'S CHALLENGE - SEPARATE YET CONNECTED

As I take my dogs on their daily walk, I am happy to be outside in the sunshine on these early spring days.  The weather is warming up and the ocean breeze is lilting.  Today is the first day I went without a jacket.  The wild flowers are blooming, the fields are ablaze with red and orange poppies.  I picked some to make a simple bouquet putting them in water in a Ball jar which seemed a fitting vase in these make-do, uncertain and unprecedented times of Covid 19.





I watch the news and read both the on-line NY & LA Times and the stories, the statistics, the lack of medical supplies and number of deaths are unbelievable, incomprehensible and other worldly.  

On my walks I see the local high school quiet and gated.  I see all the closed shops.  It reminds me of a  Sunday from my childhood when businesses were closed and families hung out together.  But seeing playgrounds surrounded by yellow tape, local restaurants shuttered, people safe distancing from each other and local beaches closed is an awakening that this is not the 50's; this is our reality, our new normal. 


I for one have it good; I am thriving in my creativity.  I am healthy and I hope it stays that way; I wish the same for my friends and family.  Some people have burst my bubble and chastised me for being happy while so many in the world are suffering.  But while we can have patience and compassion, we need to embrace the uncertainty in the best way we can.  For me it is mainly through my creative effort and spirit.  So far, I have been fortunate.
Fiona Duthie's current on-line felting challenge, SEPARATE YET TOGETHER, offered to all her former students has been a source of inspiration and friendship as was Ellen Bakker's silk painting workshop on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia hosted by Fiona.  Unfortunately I did not have the time to take both Fiona's felted garment workshop along with Ellen's workshop but I have been so inspired by their Color Collaboration which was exhibited on the stage in the same room where we were working.
Color Collaboration with Fiona and Ellen.


Me modeling a Fiona original

Fiona, me and Ellen


In a bubble on Salt Spring Island we were just learning more and more about the Covid 19 virus.  It was when the news came out that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had contracted the virus, that it became a reality.  I even painted silks in the workshop inspired by the horrible, contagious virus with the message on the silk to stay home although it had not yet become a requirement.
But just days after returning home the situation had drastically changed.  The USA/Canadian border closed, non essential businesses were shut down and shelter in place orders instituted.
The social media communication of my friends and colleagues in the felting community has been my life blood right now.  Fiona's challenge to stretch ourselves and to go outside of our comfort zone to create a felted piece for the SEPARATE YET CONNECTED challenge is metaphorically rich.  We are all stretching ourselves and we are all out of our comfort zone even if it means as little as not getting your regular mani/pedi or not getting your hair cut and colored by your stylist to experiencing the absolute worst scenario which is unimaginable to me.


I have been making samples and some cowls in preparation for my larger challenge garment.  I am using the vibrancy of my hand painted silks which I have immersed myself in since returning from Ellen's workshop.  The first week back I made a silk stretcher frame, bought supplies and made a make-shift stove top steamer. I have also painted both nuno prefelts and silk fabric with sumi ink and steamed them both along with the painted pieces.  
The color vibrancy is my happy place, the connected part but actually even the separate part since I am happy alone.  The wool locks in the samples represent our locked situation, our requirement to self quarantine, stay home and relinquish our usual comings and goings.  But the locks are open on one side, moving freely and will be set free at some point. 

This piece has two channels with felted cords threaded thru the channels.  The channels and cords are our means of communicating and connecting, channelling our efforts through social media, Facetime, texting, email and now Zoom.  We are channeling new ways to communicate and we're reaching out to others, some of whom we have not spoken to for awhile.  
But there are knots in the cords, still connecting but knotted, closing up, twisted and anxiously knotted to create a barrier from socializing and from connecting physically with the outside world.  

But as horrible as this Covid 19 war is, we will grow and learn from our new normal; we'll have more compassion, more love and patience and more appreciation for the little things.  The world is connected right now fighting this crisis.  We are SEPARATE YET CONNECTED to fight this common enemy of our universe, the universe for all of us.

Stay well my friends.







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