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dragging

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"They are not free who drag their chains after them."  -- French proverb

A new piece that is 1/3 completed.  Dragging.  Weighed down by worries.  Carrying the responsibilities of others.  It is a new sweater piece, the first in over a year.  I'm not one to create elaborate sketches as you can see. 

Knitting allows me to create work that can be completed in one inch increments while on the subway, at the doctor's office or at a cafe.  It allows for a social interaction that my embroidery does not.  I am also attracted to its flexibility.  I can easily fold the work and ship it off in a cardboard box at little expense.  But this piece, oh boy.  A wagon filled with rocks isn't going to be lightweight.   This piece will first be exhibited at the Catholic Theological Union Gallery in April.  The gallery is in Chicago, so I can drive it over, but how the heck do I ship it to California or Pennsylvania?  I don't always have the time to deliver my work in person.  Do I ship the wagon and sweater and request rocks from the community be used?  Can I count on a curator to gather these materials for me?  Do I fake the rocks?   Make them from Styrofoam?

One thing I always teach my art students is to think of your work from beginning to end.  How will it be displayed?   How will you ship it?  Who will cover this cost?  These considerations often occur at the last moment which doesn't always produce conducive thinking.  Panic and expensive solutions are usually the result.

So what about those rocks?  I haven't figured it out, but at least I have 2/3 of a sweater to knit and contemplate.


let it snow

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"The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white."
-- James Lowell

There is a saying in Chicago - If you don't like the weather wait 10 minutes as it is sure to change.  How true!  Four days ago this was the scene in downtown Chicago.  Great fluffy flakes of snow floating across the landscape.  Two days later it had melted and I was walking outside without a coat.  Today?  Well, the temperature has dropped from the balmy 50F to a bone chilling -5F (-20F if you count the wind chill).  Not that I am crazy about such cold weather, but I prefer it over warmer weather for the month of January.  It's abnormal to have such high temperatures in this region at this time of year.  And the snow.  I like snow.  I don't like blizzards, but I like snow.  It's pretty.
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craftivism

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"Take what you can use and let the rest go by."  --  Ken Kesey
What I love about the textile arts is its flexibility.  You can transform something from a few bits of pliable line into a hat, scarf, purse or installation.  In response to the tremendous outpouring of creativity sparked by the Chicago Crochet Coral Reef and in the spirit of Ellen Gates Starr, co-founder of Hull-House, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum announces its Craftivism series.  Meet at the museum with other textile enthusiasts every Friday afternoon from noon - 1:30pm.  Bring your own lunch.  Whether you knit, crochet, embroider or weave, you are sure to meet interesting folk.   


crochet connections

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"Try and fail, but don't fail to try."  -- Stephen Kaggwa

Have you ever had lunch (or any other mealtime moment) when the conversation leaves you breathless?  I've been getting background information for an article I am writing.  I tend to write from the heart, in other words, I only write what I know I will enjoy investigating and discussing.  I don't know how anyone can report on death and destruction without eventually feeling their soul dry up.  I know such reporting is necessary, but I couldn't do it.  But to sit down for lunch with two extremely talented and knowledgeable artists I think of as a treat. 

Both artists were involved in the Crochet Coral Reef Project that was at the Chicago Cultural Center this fall.  I was marginally involved with the project, but in no way on the same level as these two.  They were eloquent, funny, and always pushing at the boundaries of the topic at hand.  Conversation flitted from art, to crochet, to feminism over to environmentalism and back to art.  I took pages of notes without either one realizing that I had.  They were completely absorbed in their discussion. 

Afterward I came home more excited than ever to get into my studio, but that will be held until another day.  This afternoon I have a little French homework to finish.

The above image was taken by Margaret Wertheim, one of the originators of the project. 


rough starts

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"Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine."  --    Magdalena Abakanowicz

January has become the month of rough starts.  I get some paperwork completed only to find more to do.  I clean the kitchen only to drop a tray of lasagna.   I get started in the studio and come down with a cold.  Fortunately I started knitting and knitting can be done in between naps.

My actual studio is a disgusting pit filled with dust bunnies the size of lion manes.  Really, it is a mess and I just haven't had the energy to clean it. It is also unheated.  One small space heater does little to cut the chill when the temperature outside is -3 Fahrenheit.  So I stay nice and warm in the living room with my knitting needles in hand and a puppy on the lap.

I can't knit as long as I once was able.  The tendinitis I developed this past summer means my days of knitting are reduced to two hour stretches before I need to move on to another activity for a bit.  This method of working is healthier, but when I am in the mood and the mode, I don't want to switch activities.  I just want to knit.

I am currently knitting a beret for a blogger friend's sister-in-law.  She
has cancer and having been a cancer patient myself, I know that a soft, new hat can do wonders to lift the spirit.  So in between teaching, naps, and more paperwork, I pull out the needles and add a few more rows. 

Actually, this week I have knit 3 hats and 2 berets.  Some of them are slated for The Red Thread Project.  Though the project doesn't go to St. Louis until August, I need pace myself if I am to stay ahead.   


open field

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"And open field, through which the pathway wound,
And homeward led my steps. Magnificent
The morning rose, in memorable pomp,
Glorious as e’er I had beheld—in front,
The sea lay laughing at a distance; near,
The solid mountains shone, bright as the clouds,
Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light;"
  --  William Wordsworth

Rest.  That is what I need, lots of rest.  I fell into bed at 9pm and didn't rise again for another 12 hours only to let out the dogs and crash back into bed for 4 more.  I've learned that when I stop a long stretch of work, I frequently come down with a crash, ie a cold.  On the plus side, I have spent much of my day in bed daydreaming about my next piece.  I am excited. I need to get started on the new piece for a show in April.  My first beaded landscape in 15 years.  Beauty.  That's all I want to create these days, objects of beauty.      


sunset

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"Look at the stars! look, look up the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!" -- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Sweet Pea ran into the house shouting, "Mom! Mom!  Quick! You have to come outside!" 

I thought something was wrong.  Was one of the dogs hurt?  Did someone steal another rose bush from our front yard?   I was not prepared for the breathtaking sunset.  Emergencies yes,  but beauty no. 

Why is beauty a dirty word in the art world?  I don't want to look at another image of shootings, depravity or the other ills of American society.  I'm tired.   They overwhelm and depress me. 

I remember a radio news program during the build up to war in Iraq.  People were buying art.  They were buying that which filled them with awe and a sense of tranquility.  They didn't want negative images gracing their homes.  They needed beauty in the face of the ugliness soon to rain down on them. 

Beauty to stave off the mental ravages of war.   That's a show waiting to be curated.


beginning

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"What we call the beginning is often the end.  And to make an end is to make a beginning.  The end is where we start from."  --  T.S. Eliot.

This past fall I came to a crossroad.  Much in my career had led me toward the path of art administration.  After the first two weeks as the interim director of education at a well known art center, I knew that following this path would lead me away from my studio.   I have spent a life time knowing that I am an artist.   The making of art isn't a hobby, a form of therapy, or even a means of income, it is my life.  An existentialist statement perhaps, but one I feel deep in my bones. 

These past few days many have been asking what I will be doing next.  I understand why the question is asked, but still I find it an odd question.   It's not a matter of what I will be doing next.  I will be doing what I have always been doing, making art.   

I'm nervous.  I know my path and am not to be sidetracked again.   I have tried on so many hats over the years and the only four that fit with any comfort are those of artist, mother, teacher and occasional writer, everything else is fluff.

My New Year's resolution isn't to diet or learn an instrument, it is to learn how to stay focused on my art.  I am resolved to learn the word "no."  I like helping people, but sometimes helping others ends up leading me away from what is best for me. 

So like the balloon adrift in the fog, I am moving upward and forward though the passage isn't necessarily clear.  And I'm a pretty darn excited! 


a girl named Lindsay

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"A name with meaning could bring up a child,
Taking the child out of the parents’ hands.
Better a meaningless name, I should say,
As leaving more to nature and happy chance.
Name children some names and see what you do."
    -- Robert Frost

Does your name define you?  Is it a marketing asset or liability?  Several years ago I read Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit.  One particular chapter discussed names.  Is your name unusual?  If not what would you use?  I laughed.  I was having a tough year in the art world and figured my luck would change with the change of my name.  Lindsays, after all, were becoming as common as mud.  You know this to be a fact when you walk into class and find that 1/2 your students share your name.

So, hmmm.  Who should I be?  I was scrolling through the font list and came across Gigi.  It's the font just before the one I typically use - Gil Sans.  Gigi.  I liked it.  A romantic name of a robust girl.  As a joke, I wrote a friend an email in my new persona.  He thought I was nuts.  I believe unstable was the word he used.  No not unstable, just trying on a new name as I may try a new hat.  But Gigi soon lost her luster after passing a porn shop with the same name. 

Three years later and I am still seeking the perfect name.  I like Lindsay.  It is a family name dating back centuries.  For that matter, my whole name consists of family names dating back centuries.  A quick search at the Social Security website and I learned that in 1984 Lindsay was the 36th most popular name in the country.  This explains why I walked into a room full of them.My middle name isn't much better.  In 1997 it was the 65th most popular name given to girls. It also seems to be a favorite for Labrador Retrievers.   

My paternal grandmother, better known as Grandma, never liked her name.  I think Beatrice is lovely, but she always told me it was the name of a boring old bitty.  Recently I learned that she had been given two middle names.  I don't know why she kept it a secret.  I like them both - Clara and Cornelia, especially Cornelia.   

I am partly jesting here, but part serious too.  Many women don't change their names upon marriage as they have established a career with it.  To change it means more than a hassle at the bank to order new checks, it means confusing clients and colleagues, losing business.  Conversely, many Hollywood actors over the years changed their names to those easily pronounced and remembered.  My daughter has had several name changes over the years.  For her, a name means connection to family an establishment of roots.  For a person who has been adopted twice over, I can see why a name carries such weight and importance.  Guess which name she took?  Yup.  Lindsay.

So I guess I will always be a Lindsay, one of many thousands, but to my daughter, I am the one and only Lindsay, her mom. 


pulmonary

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"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it."  --  Lily Tomlin

Mom's heart condition has me worried about my own.  I've been experiencing heart pounding panic attacks these past few days.   I am delighted to announce that my position as an Interim Director of Education is coming to a close with the hiring of a permanent replacement, but the transition is nerve wracking.  There is so much to do, so much to demonstrate and I know that all my best efforts will never live up to my own expectations.  I am an idiot and well aware of it.  There is no reason to have such high expectations other than I tend to live by my own moral code and sense of work ethic.  It has generally held me in good stead, but sometimes it is a royal pain in the heart. 

A few lovely things happened today which I wish to share.  (You see, I am making a conscious effort to focus on the positive and not the negative nigglies....)  First, I started teaching a knitting class at a fixed income housing facility for seniors. It was lovely.  We used knitting frames rather than needles as the tools are gentler to arthritic hands.  Within minutes they were knitting away.  I love working with this group.  The stories they tell are fascinating, though today's conversation about who is getting and giving booty had me blushing.   I tell ya, these ladies tell as it is.   

Later I heard from folks at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  They accepted my proposal for their upcoming exhibition "Lawn."  This is my second public installation in less than a year!  I also learned that Big Blue will be going to San Francisco.  It will be part of the traveling exhibition of Cool Globes.

Special thanks to Corinne of Lucky Penny's Workshop.  She named Big Blue as a her best link of 2007.  If you haven't strolled over to her workshop, you are in for a hilarious treat about the adventures of one knitter, her dog, her man and an outrageous yarn stash (she makes mine look pathetic).