Looking back over the year, I feel like time has slowed to a crawl. The spring was, well, spring-like, in that my new work got shown in a biennial in Georgia. Huge for me to get shown outside of North Carolina and with the new work to boot. The summer bloomed even brighter, when I found out that "Chrysalis" had made the cut for the Surface Design Association's biennial in Sebastopol, CA, judged by none other than Jason Pollen.
Suddenly I was in a show with Virginia Davis, one of the artists on my IT list. For days I felt like I was floating on air. I packed up my piece and sent it out, this time understanding all the ins and outs of mailing work to shows, like the little detail of enclosed pre-paid return labels. Since I didn't fly across the country for the opening, I decided to look it up on Facebook. I don't have an account anymore but I was nevertheless able to see almost 50 pictures that someone posted of each wall of the show, so I could get a good handle on how it had been curated - an expertly hung show that represented a good cross-section of fiber arts in North America (even though the show called itself International, it was primarily US-based artists). And as I virtually walked through the show, I had a very surprising reaction; I felt disappointed. I had the sinking feeling that this was not what I had wanted after all. Was it really true that getting shown nationally by a renowned jury was not the gold at the end of my rainbow? Was it imposter's syndrome, feeling that I somehow didn't deserve to be there? Had I moved ahead so fast that some unforeseen emotional risk had been violated and I was feeling too vulnerable?
I don't think it was any of those things. I think I am getting closer to the answer now but all I knew back at the beginning of August was that I had to go back to the drawing board. Something was missing. Something very crucial. I started to go through my studio, read back issues of Fiber Arts and TextilForum, rifle through piles of things that I had been shoving around for years and sort sort sort. By the time September came, I knew I was cleaning out in order to move. I was shedding old skin. It was time to move my studio back home after nine years in Marshall.
Two months later finds my dobby loom stashed in the barn and my necessaries whittled down to what will fit into a postage stamp-sized space. And yet I have a sense of spaciousness and peace that I never had when I had a whole classroom at my disposal. Part of it is literal - I have the weight of a rent payment off my mind. But there is something much bigger, which has more to do with letting myself out of the role of weaver/ fiber artist. I think the California show made me see that I want to be just an artist, fiber or no fiber. Make no mistake - I was honored to be chosen for the show. But I find I do not want to be labelled or stashed neatly into a box. Put me into a box and the first thing I will want to do is get out. I am claustrophobic to the core.
"If I were put in a box". Watercolor pencil, oil pastel, pen and ink on pape. 2014.
Right before I moved out of MHS, I wove 10 feet of cotton stainless steel plain weave. I finally found a stainless steel yarn that would work in the warp without breaking. I had been looking for this yarn since I had started the skin pieces in 2015, after discovering that the linen version would break after a foot or so of beating and lifting. Finding this yarn would allow me to make much larger pieces. I had read somewhere that the human body on average fits into 20 square feet of skin, and I thought that amount would be a good place to start for a larger piece. So I wove it out, hating every minute of being on the loom, but knowing I would appreciate having the finished product there to start working with once I got settled at home. It wasn't until a few days ago that I unrolled it and took a few pictures with it draped over me in the fading winter afternoon light:
Untitled, digital photograph, 2017
As per usual of late, I seem to be charting new territory again. I have to set aside worries that I am fickle, as someone called me once, or that I am changing my mind with the tides. Well heck, I am a Pisces after all. And I did start a business with 7 women called Flow. Ok fine. There's a theme. Now it's time to ebb for a while and see what comes to light.
Topsail Beach, NC, Color film photograph.