In this world of ordinary people, extra-ordinary people, I am glad there is you. I wish each and every one of you extra-ordinary people the very best life has to offer for the New Year and all the Years to follow. Some of you may think yourselves ordinary, but in my life, you are miracles, and you are sacred. Thank you for the many gifts you have brought into my life.
As we continue a season of holidays, I want to wish you the very best life has to offer, no matter what set of holidays you choose to celebrate. I wish you peace, joy, and an appreciation of the sacred in this world.
This is a time of renewal, and a time of quiet contemplation about the world that we have been given in which to have the experience of being an important part of the universe with its many different dimensions. As the world seems to sleep, new life is forming quietly in so many different places and going unnoticed until it bursts forth in all its glory when spring awakens.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw – Dramatist (1856 – 1950)
I was thinking about how much fun I have had when I allow myself to play freely as this child is doing. The freedom to explore the world we don’t see everyday, sometimes when it is right in front of us, is a wonderful thing.
I remember when I was turning 65, how I decided to put on some African music I had and begin to dance to it naked in my own home. And then I got the idea to paint my breasts and make prints from them onto cloth. I had no idea what these simple parts of my own body look like from a different perspective and it just seemed a fun way to play. There is nothing strange or silly (well, silly I can live with) about it. It was playing, and discovering, and it was immensely a fun way to celebrate. In the end, the two prints I made – one white and one multi-color, ended up becoming quilts that looked nothing at all like breasts.
I once saw the installations of art by a famous artist who did basically the same thing with parts of his body he said he never saw before. It was amazing, for he had manipulated the images that he got, and nothing was even recognizable as whatever it was originally, but it was immense fun to think about someone to be unafraid to play and to discover whatever there was to find.
It isn’t just the human body with which people are afraid to play and discover. It is things we all take for granted. The cracks in sidewalks, the marks on trees, the forms of all sorts of things out in nature, and perhaps a million other things that we really don’t know at all except from a distance. It isn’t just about playing with toys or playing games that we played as children. It’s about getting to know the world we live in, up close and personal. Have you played lately?
I remember that my mom had more “mom-isms” than probably most of the moms on my block. If you don’t know what a mom-ism is, your mom probably never had one, but you might ask her what mom-isms her mom or grandma used to use. A mom-ism is when you make a remark, such as “Oh Mom, I can’t.” And your mom replies, “Really? Did you know that there is no such word as ‘can’t’ in the English dictionary?” Or perhaps she might say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Think back on some your mom or grandma might have said. I know some of you have some in the back of your memory. They were intended to have us not give up easily, or perhaps guide us in some other area of life. The quilt that is painted and stitched below is one of my mom’s mom-isms. I would say something like “I just am not sure if I can do it,” or perhaps “Mom, I am afraid to do it,” and she would reply, “Oh, take the bull by the horns.” I have no clue where these mom-isms came from, but they were definitely an important memory in my youth. I will look forward to seeing some of yours. Perhaps you have pop-isms, or grandma or grandpa-isms. And you know, these worked too. Look how worried this huge bull looks compared to the little cowgirl. Have fun remembering!
This photo is a baby girl named Anne, and it is some 76 years old approximately. Oh how she loved to be read to aloud, or how she loved to “read” her own little books. There were never enough books, and her favorite person to read to her was her Grandma. She was still sitting on the floor next to her Grandma in her rocking chair. And Grandma would tell little Anne stories to capture her memory and to make her days memorable.
I dedicate this story to my friend Jennie, who teaches preschoolers at a private school back East. Her favorite way of teaching is reading aloud to the students, something they all love so much. She combines it with so much creativity. One day, she was asking the children if they wanted to have a new story, and instead of telling one child who was talking a lot, she told the children if they wanted a story to say “Ravioli, Ravioli.” It changed the climate immediately and all the children began to say that.
I am so glad I grew up loving to read. To this day, it is perhaps one of my most wonderful adventures in life. I hope any of you who have children will take the time to read to them as much as possible. Let them pick out books from the library. And teach them to ask in funny ways such as “Ravioli, Ravioli!”
Just what IS accidental art? Doesn’t everyone who paints or does mixed media or art quilts or other art forms have to plan everything out ahead? How can it be art if it is not “designed?”
Have you ever watched a child creating art? Children don’t plan their art. They just start making lines and marks and coloring all over the page and generally using their full imagination. There is a freedom and spontaneity that you cannot help but enjoy, even if you are a professional artist or person who doesn’t care for art. It reminds you of some part of yourself that many people lose as we grow older and have to deal with the everyday issues of life.
This is my favorite form of art. All of these pieces were created in a matter of minutes, often pulling scraps from my friend Jamie Fingal’s fabric scrap can or my own, and using a glue stick or pins initially to put down whatever pieces I found. Honestly, none of these are planned. They just came to be born as I allowed myself to go into my childlife, just playing and having fun. They are all in various stages as I was making them. The flowers with the frog were from my boob prints, and so much fun to play with. I don’t think any of these took me longer than 15 – 20 minutes to create in whatever forms they are here. There is no attempt to “match” anything, to be precise, and even the stitching that comes later on to finish them is just wherever my hand feels like guiding the machine. I don’t need to put colors in the “right places,” or worry about whether it looks like it is “supposed to look.” The striped “cat” below was just a scrap of fabric I found in exactly the shape it was. We used to give little blocks like this to friends who perhaps hurt themselves in a fall, or maybe had surgery. They just become something as we go along, but there is no thought given to trying to create any particular thing.