Okay, it's another book - a children's book, whatever that means. It is written by one of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo and beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline:
The "plot" involves a beautiful china rabbit named Edward Tulane who passes unexpectedly from one owner to another. Students of mine have recommended it (the cover picture alone put me off) and finally, two days ago, a special friend literally handed the book to me, so I read it! And here's what I came away with:
We are on this planet to love and be loved. We are on this planet to lose some, maybe even many, of those we love. But just when we fall to the deepest bottom of the sea itself, we are serendipitously and sometimes intentionally, lifted back up into the sunlight. We may lose our place, our clothing, our loved ones, and even our view of ourselves over time. But holding on, in our hearts, to the ones we have loved (even when they have disappeared from our view) is what ultimately keeps us safe for loving and belonging again.
Just to show that it's not all about reading books, but also about creating books, I'm showing a journal page - begun in the middle of the night in Bangkok when I couldn't sleep and "finished" back here at home:
However, you know I HAVE to mention books! I just read:
While the author, Lynn Krawczyk, didn't necessarily give me new ideas for printing on fabric, she did provoke me to think about what I create, what I'm drawn to, and what I find appearing over and over again in my work. At this point, I think it is varying textures, bright colors, text, and contrasts. And always, I am working to attend more and more to composition. As Michelangelo once said, "I am still learning."
After an extended trip to Thailand, I am back and ready to resume! May even post some pictures of visual inspiration from that amazing country with its extravaganza of color and textures. But, while flying there and back, I FINALLY read Cutting for Stone. So many people had recommended it to me, but for some reason, I was resistant. No longer.
It's true, that the first half of the book was brutal and harsh in places - especially for those of us who live in the relatively safe and personally secure world of Western culture. But the writing was beautiful and vivid, and it was easy to fall into the physical and emotional world of Marion and Shiva - brothers joined head to head until their birth.
I held several misconceptions about the book before reading it - the biggest one being that the brothers become alienated and go their separate ways. I didn't experience it that way. As we all do, they each had their strengths and their weaknesses which took them in different directions. Betrayal? Yes. Deliberate betrayal and alienation? I don't think so.
And the women! Powerful, intelligent, survivors. Hema, in particular, who raised the twins was strong and determined. And love, for her and for the two boys, occurred slowly and in the most unlikely person of the story. True love - that abides steadily, sees clearly, and looks ahead always for those under the umbrella of his love.
Even the weakest character is revealed as understandable by the end of the story. And the ending? No fairy tale. No smooth resolution. But somehow, it was the perfect ending.
A good book. A book worth reading, and perhaps, rereading later in my life.
At dinner with a friend the other night, we talked about our mixed media work (and fiber work) and wondered about our individual "voices." I think we both decided that we don't exactly have one yet - you know, where you look at a piece and you just know who created it. When I went back to my journal pages, I realized I had a whole bunch of voices. I have a "relatively" subdued voice like this portion of a page:
But then I have a "louder" voice which is actually the one that brings me the most joy like this piece:
But the more I think of it, and especially since I am a novice, why shouldn't I have more than one voice? Don't we all have many voices? (Still like this second voice the best, though!)
Sun is fading so no photography, I am packing/summer scheduling, but I wanted to share my thoughts on one of the most significant books I've read recently, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Murakami has written many books, most recently 1Q84, but this is the one that resonated most with me. As with all of his books, it took me a leap of faith to read through at least the first 50 pages. His books always require a suspension of disbelief and a willingness to simply accept what he puts in front of you with such beautiful artistry. And, always, Murakami introduces what appear to be some very disparate elements. Have faith - keep reading.
The surface description of the story: The main character's mother has disappeared with his sister from his life, he's unhappy with his father, he moves to a new town and ends up working and living in a private library. But that basic "summary" does not do this writing justice at all.
I live with someone who is not necessarily a fiction reader, so I shared the last 40 pages with him by reading them aloud, weeping with emotion (NOTE: not just sadness) as I did so. Murakami somehow articulated, in the most mystical and magical way, what I realized I would crave of my biological mother in a way that I never could have articulated myself.
As I tell my students all the time, we bring ourselves to a book and make the story our own. What story will you read here, I wonder?
Busy, busy week so I'm posting about fabric I dyed with Procion dye a few months ago. I have three coordinating pieces and haven't quite figured out how to configure them yet. Here's the main piece - sateen cotton dyed yellow and then tied to a metal pole and submerged in golden orange (yippee!! my favorite colors!!) I love the starburst effect which, so it goes, was totally serendipitous.
Then I dyed harem cloth by submerging it in yellow and then scrunched up a piece of lightweight voile into a jar of golden orange, and so here are the two other pieces:
Not quite sure yet - maybe I will quilt small squares of these two fabrics above at the bottom of the tie-dyed fabric. Maybe I'll do some weaving. Maybe I'll use them separately. If anyone (particularly Kathy or Jude) has any ideas, I would love to hear them! These colors just make my heart sing!!
Most people by now know about The Book Thief - it's coming out (or is out?) as a movie. Fewer know that the relatively young author, Markus Zusak, has written another book that, to me, was even more compelling. Not that The Book Thief with Death as the narrator during WWII wasn't compelling, but unsurprisingly, it was also quite sad. In fact, when I started reading it with a student several years ago, I thought, "Hmmm.... I don't know if I can bear this."
On the contrary, I Am the Messenger is easier to access from the get go without any pullback. Essentially, it's the story of a young man who feels a little lost in the world. He has a dog (the best books always do!) and a group of friends, but he doesn't see that his life will ever really change nor that he could ever really make a difference in the world. But he learns, little by little, vignette by vignette, that we can touch people's lives in small and big ways. Of course, this character finds a card deck's four Aces, one by one, with enigmatic clues in his mail box that draw him in - first through curiosity, and then a growing sense of his seemingly random importance to others.
This very average young man learns the essence of existentialism - it is what we DO that counts, not what we THINK or BELIEVE. It is our actions that define who we are, and it is our actions that can change the world for the better - from the micro level to the macro level.
Inspired by I Took the Pledge (see sidebar for link) and the book, Show Your Work (recently reviewed), I decided to stop waiting until I am truly done with a piece and show the process along the way. So below is more work on a piece started several posts back. I've added some pintucked, hand dyed fabric and more dyed fabric with tiny beads (hmm... those could be bigger and maybe even straighter!) The lower left hand corner may end up to echo the red and green plaid woven into the upper right hand corner. Not sure yet, but this is what it looks right now:
I learned that the color is truest when I use full sun than (as in last evening) waning sun. I am still getting the hang of photography... well of just about everything! BUT: it's a process, right?!
I love anything having to do with fabric and fabric-related stuff (e.g., an expansive collection of thread!) I also love to read and, in fact, I am a reading specialist in my work world. But this blog is for all my experiments with fabric and commentary (responses definitely welcomed!) to what I am currently reading.
evaisaksen.com A beautiful source for composition and color inspiration!
Dharma Trading Co. THE source for un-dyed cotton, linen, hemp, and silk fabric plus every imaginable fabric dye.
Spirit Cloth Jude Hill is a weaver, a quilter, a hand-stitcher, a story teller, a philosopher, and a teacher. Check out her blog, Spirit Cloth, to see her work and sign up for amazing on-line, go-at-your-own-speed workshops.
Robin Colodzin Collage and Mixed Media, Painting, and Printmaking artist who is a great source of inspiration!