I've lived in Alaska for 17 years, but I'd never been to Nome. With distances as vast as this state's, I haven't been many places, but hope to change that. First off, props to my husband's architecture firm who completed the Richard Foster Building in Nome last year. It houses the Carrie McLain Memorial Museum, the Kegoayah Kozga Public Library and the Katirvik Cultural Center -- three entities with individual histories and voices that united to create a space of beauty and heritage. We came to attend the grand re-opening, now that all the museum exhibits are fully installed.
This structure, like others built on permafrost, is erected on stilts. Unlike other places in the world, stilts in the Arctic have little to do with one hundred-year flood plains and everything to do with drifting snow and -- more importantly -- the heat generated from the building itself, which will melt the permafrost beneath.
Think about that for a bit, then consider the large-scale consequences. Of course, the most blatant destruction doesn't point fingers at single buildings, but, in part, to the actions of an entire world.
Maybe Nome sounds familiar, but you aren't sure why. If I explain it's the official finish line to the 1,000-mile long Iditarod sled dog race, this might jog your memory of its recent history, but the area's deeper culture spans thousands of years. If you study the map below, it begins to build a picture of Alaska that most people don't fully understand. What I've seen on some language maps referred to as "Eskimo" doesn't exist on this one. And what might seem like an empty, stark landscape is full of culture and tradition that resonates in the various arts practiced by its inhabitants, native and non native.
The work of Alaskan artist, Sonja Kelliher-Combs, hangs prominently in the Katirvik Cultural Center's entryway, with additional work in the gathering room. Sonja grew up in Nome, but is now based in Anchorage. Her work is immediately identifiable and much desired; I feel even more of a pull to it now that I've been to the landscape of her childhood. (Please visit her website and body of work. Hers was some of the first Alaskan art I encountered 17 years ago at the Decker/Morris Gallery when I moved to Anchorage from Vancouver, Canada, and thought, "Hang on, this place might be ok").
Her work still punches me in the gut.
I was so honored to bring my children to Nome, even if it was for a short time. I'm honored they have the privilege of growing up in Alaska, honored we get to live and work here, inspired by land, culture and an extreme, changing climate.
Children who come from this place will be forced to solve problems we can't yet imagine. Crossing cultural divides with grace and empathy is a major piece of their future. Understanding consequences is another. Taking risks is another part of the equation.
Some of the largest storms in the world begin in the Bering Sea, but consider the origins of the greatest sea change.
If you think this post prods at a lot , you're correct. I'm thinking about all all of this, all the time.
One year ago on this blog.
Ice. (Because, Alaska).
Two years ago on this blog.
Splitting open the idea. (The brave seed to the Inheritance Project, which I continue to generate work for, and therefore blog less).
Three years ago on this blog.
A history of chaos. (And here's where I'll reveal my own #metoo, although the extent isn't divulged in this post, and feel I'll never do more than dance around what still has very little clarity for me. I understand so much about women's silence, and am grateful I had the choice and resources -- emotional and otherwise -- to simply slip away).
At the end of September I had the rare opportunity to travel to Boston. While my husband attended meetings for 2 1/2 days, I gave myself the gift of much needed alone time, like a 6-hour date with myself at the Museum of Fine Arts, another date with myself at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and a good hard wander through the gallery at the Society of Arts and Crafts. Did I mention we flew a grandma to Alaska to be with children so this could happen? So many moving parts. So hard to get away.
But the highlight of the trip was driving to Lowell on Saturday morning with the Director of the New England Quilt Museum, Nora Burchfield, to visit their current exhibition "Gilding the Lily: Embroidery in Quilts Past & Present." I was invited to exhibit 8 works for this show in my own "pocket" gallery. In the image below, you can see "Reliquary #8: Scroll through the entryway.
This exhibition will be installed until December 30, 2017. It's beautiful.
It was an incredible honor to be surrounded by 200 years of embroidered quilts in a city known for its long textile history, and have the prestige of representing a facet of this art form's contemporary turn. Work from both the Reliquary and Girl Story series are on display.
I didn't photograph everything in the exhibition, but below are a few broad strokes encompassing historic and contemporary work.
I recommend a good hard wander if you're out that way. You, too, might have a whole new shiny outlook.
I also had the opportunity to talk about my work while Caroline Gallagher created a video of this. I haven't seen it yet, but will link to when it's on You Tube.
Thank you Caroline and Nora for coordinating the effort.
Above is a rare reverse view of the suspended work, "Inheritance," featuring doilies used as "batting" between two layers of silk organza. The "quilting" is done with crewel embroidery wool and a darning stitch.
But enough about my work.
Kelly Cline, Lawrence KS "Champagene & Caviar," 2016. Cotton, silk. Hand embroidered vintage textile, hand-guided long arm quilting (left). Rhonda Dort, Houston TX, 2014. "Second Chances," Cottons, vintage linens, trims & doilies, crocheted pieces, buttons, beads, lace & pearls. Hand embroidery, applique, pieced & quilted. Macine embellished and embroidered.
Also, this happened: I ran into fellow Alaskan artist, Beth Blankenship, who happened to be in the museum on the same day, while visiting her daughter in Boston. Must've been the magnetic north pulling us toward one another, even when far from home.
One year ago on this blog:
Two years ago on this blog:
Three years ago on this blog:
This Inheritance Project gratitude post is overdue; three of these “boxes of mystery” came over the summer and now we’re hurtling towards the equinox. But. Each contributor already received a thank you card and a handmade gift…I think I’m up to 70 of those teeny tiny doilies…so this post is the bigger thank you I share with the world.
First, here’s a little update: I stopped officially accepting items for the Inheritance Project a year ago, after 13 months of receiving crowd-sourced domestic linens from people all over the world (except this didn’t mean shipments stopped coming). I’ve been working steadily all this time and so many incredible opportunities have arisen from this project’s raw material:
For those of us who work with cloth, and older cloth in particular, the pull is powerful. It's no surprise we somehow find each other.
Tante Sophie et Cie.
Thank you Ina Braun from Tante Sophie et Cie in Denville, New Jersey, for the lovely box of mystery. Like many of us, Ina has been hanging onto these items for a long time – some she made, some she found, some belonged to various women in her life.
“They are all old…unknown makers…found…treasured…released for your making.”
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.