My current work is exploring the use of these older, handmade and unwanted materials and I simply couldn't do it without the support of strangers, friends and family members. I am the current inheritor of these items and they will go on to live another life, ultimately culminating in an exhibition at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center: Inheritance: makers. memory. myth. The Boxes of Mystery series of blog posts are the cataloging effort of all that I have inherited.
Here are the next three boxes:
My new friend from France.
Aude is an installation artist who works with linen and hemp, creating organic forms that wrap thousands of times around a core, splitting and becoming larger -- often climbing -- configurations. They are evocative and primal, a study of plant-based forms and materials, with the physicality of the process still resonating in the end work. She is also a mother and balancer who understands that in the thick of the everyday one's art often has to take a back seat, but is never truly booted out of the brain. The hands, after all, still have to make.
I imagine she is as distracted as I am, sometimes frustrated, often questioning, but still compelled to do the work she is drawn to. Throw this flooding event into the picture, and know that she is being tested as well. My heart goes out to her.
"The forms I create are born out of the entwining of a fiber of hemp by threads of linen. The tension provided by the thread holds them together... the linen encircles each part of hemp a hundred times, and creates a petrified matter... To understand it, you have to touch it, to feel it, and sense knots, the crevices and the veins. You would be mistaken if you thought that this material is not alive: it becomes tender as the heat rises, and it tightens and becomes harder with the humidity of the night..."
I opened one small parcel every day for a week, even inviting a friend over to share the mysteries one afternoon.
I have a metal magnet that says, "ATTENTION CHAT LUNATIQUE," but alas, this is the extent of my grasp on the language despite Madame Lally's best efforts in high school. For all the rest of you who payed attention in French class (and were apparently a lot less distracted by the boy sitting behind you at age 14), you will enjoy watching Aude in the video below. I actually LOVE hearing Aude speak about her work and have listened to this about 5 times. My son finally looked at me and said, "Mom. You have no idea what she is saying."
Right. Except in my heart, I think I do.
My friend from Pakistan.
Shehla visits Pakistan annually, often traveling to the Swat Valley to meet with women, many of them entrepreneurs, who are existing in a delicate, sometimes dangerous, set of situations. To read a piece she wrote about her correspondence with Malala Yousafzai, click here. The first time she ever spoke with Malala was in 2009, when the girl was 11. Here's where we can all be momentarily stunned at those few degrees of separation.
My friend from Texas, the flat coastal plain where the farmers grow rice.
“It felt wistful to me; babies who never made it home, perhaps. But no one ever knows at a garage sale, and the lady selling it gave no details. It could not have been precious to her, as she sold it for $1.”
Many thanks for thinking of me, Bobbe. I, too, have a wistful emotion when I hold this tiny bit of cloth. We have such an intimate relationship with textiles -- we sleep in it, wear it, wrap our children in it -- sometimes we forget how connected we are to the objects, the wearers and makers.
* * *