I love Fall. I love Thanksgiving. Christmas repels me. Winter… I try to get through. Like the lizards that are snuggled into what ever little nooks & crannies they have found, I am waiting for the longer, sunny, warm days to reappear. That’s why I look forward to the winter solstice… not only does it mark the beginning of a gradual lengthening of daylight hours, but also the approach of a shiny New Year, my other favorite holiday.
So what does an artist do with herself in the months after the sublimeness of a Zion National Park Residency?
Cooked my third vegan Thanksgiving feast… yes, that’s right a Thanksgiving without meat, & it was a delicious nosh beyond words, if I do say so myself.
I’ve been weaving & finally finishing a somewhat experimental tapestry of two curve billed thrashers. The tapestry, nidito (little nest), is meant for a niche that was created during our home remodel. Don’t have a photo of the finished piece yet, but here it is in progress…
I did a Duet With A Saguaro one lovely fall evening.
Had a great time going to the Tucson All Souls Procession parade, not to march but to observe & have fun. It was a complete trip!
I took part in a sketching group a couple of times that meets on Tumamoc Hill. Alas, I stopped going for reasons I’ll talk about more later in this post & also because I needed to get nidito off the loom & a new warp on for the Zion tapestry.
Now I am in the middle of dressing the loom for the tapestry I will be weaving for Zion National Park. It will be based on this design that I created with two images I took & manipulated both with my Android phone & Photoshop Elements. I am thinking about the title & will write more about my intention behind the design once I get the weaving underway.
And I’ve been cogitating more deeply about things I began recognizing during my artist residency at Zion. Sometimes when you’ve had a profound experience, concepts, thoughts, realizations, & ideas continue to bubble up out of the brain ether slowly over time as you reflect back. While I was in Zion I didn’t really do much sketching, painting, or drawing. I did take photos, very frequently at first but then less so as the days passed. Most of my time was spent observing the canyon environs, immersing myself in it & weaving a cropped version of this image to see if it was weaveable. In a continuation of a realization I had during the ATA Marcel Marois workshop this past July in Rhode Island, I gained deeper insight that I really do not work by creating a proliferate amount of artwork when I am seeking inspiration or designing a tapestry. Now I understand why I get bored quickly with sketching exercises, sketching groups, drawing classes. It seems that for me, less is more; I usually hone in a concept pretty quickly & need only a few images to work with, usually photographs. I think this may be because the idea was already there, floating around in the back of my mind… but I’m still thinking about that.
WARNING: Graphic Content Ahead (this is a pre-warning… I’ll give another warning before things get really dicey)
I’ve also made a hugely monumental decision to no longer buy wool yarn to weave with. I will use everything I already have, but when it runs out or when I need a color I don’t have, it will be of some other fiber. I have been exploring options, & will write more on that as I learn more. I cannot afford to give away or even try to sell the wool I already possess, so I will try to be mindful of & thankful to the animals that produced it. After becoming vegan for health reasons, I could not help but become increasingly aware of many more cultural & social aspects of veganism. It is easy to keep your head in the sand when you don’t want to know something, so if I hadn’t looked into the business of wool production, I would still be planning to weave on in ignorant bliss. Don’t get me wrong, I love wool. Love to wear it, love to weave it, & love to dye it. This was a really hard decision to make. And my thoughts here are by no means meant to point a finger at or damn anyone who wants to keep using wool. But I believe strongly in sharing information that I think might be helpful to others or make a difference in the world. We’re all on our own journey on the blue marble. There is no perfection, only choices.
OK, now Graphic Content is next (don’t worry, no awful photos, just general info… clicking on the links is completely voluntary)…
I had been wondering about cruelty involved in the production of wool, & I was prompted by my feelings to begin doing a little research. I was not prepared for what I found. It seems that Merino sheep suffer the most, which is extremely unfortunate since their wool is the most commonly used. I called a wool company whose yarn I love & they had no clue about how the mostly Merino wool they use is produced (I was not calling to harass, only to ask if their wool was certified as “non-mulesed”). Then I received a copy of PETA’s Animal Times magazine & this was the cover; this issue has a very in depth article about of all of the practices involved in sheep farming/shearing, which made me cry…
I was shocked to learn how extremely horrible it actually is, and the more I learned, the more I became convinced that I could no longer create beauty from a product of such suffering. If you want to learn more, just click on the following links… if not I understand. Perhaps at least a seed has been planted for future thought.
General info about shearing: http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_cruelty/wool.htm
Flystrike, mulesing, & clamping: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/01/pulling-the-wool-over-our-eyes-gary-smith/
From Australia: http://www.alv.org.au/issues/sheep.php
During this time of year, I feel so grateful for all of the gifts Earth, her animals, & her plants have given us. I am trying to give something back through the choices I make, & I am by no means perfect. Yet, I feel I must keep trying to be better.
“We all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light.” – Earl Nightingale