I’ve put off this post long enough. I’ve been writing this blog for more than 10 years. It was meant to be a link to my creativity and my life, to document how they play against each other becoming at times diametrically opposed, and at other times indistinguishable from each other. That is the life of an artist. We never retire, we just keep reinventing ourselves.
This year has been a huge challenge in and of itself, all of the work that I had booked this year, including my trip to Japan has of course been cancelled. Anyone in the arts, who makes their living gig by gig, knows this, that without those venues, we have no income. Don’t cry for me, I’m fine, my late husband saw to that. But there are others who aren’t fine.
And now, life isn’t just about being quarantined to stay safe from a nasty unknown virus that no one seems to know much about. Social media is full of all sorts of people who think they know, or knows someone who knows, but the bottom line is, at least here in NJ, that nothing will ever be the same as we knew it for a long long time.
And on top of that, there is this thing that I find really difficult to talk about. I am after all, a privileged white woman. We fought about shit like this in the 50’s, equal rights for women, for persons of color. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed in 50 years. Nothing has changed in 400 years. And I really struggled with this post because there is absolutely nothing I can contribute to this conversation because I am a privileged white woman living in a suburban community and I need to keep my mouth shut and let those who are on the front lines speak. I need to listen.
All of the organizations I’m associated with or support, particularly in the arts, have been sending me emails to state their position on where they stand on racial equality. I can’t help but feeling it is all so bandwagon -y. I said as much to my daughter, who very bluntly said to me, “Mom, it isn’t enough to not be racist. It is now more than ever important to be anti-racist. Silence is acceptance of the status quo.” I’m still mulling that over, I know she is right, but I have no idea what that actually means and how I can help, or if I just need to get out of the way.
And so I sit in my basement, proofing patterns, creating new works, doing what I do best, but listening to NPR around the clock, listening to experts, listening to the voices that can make a difference. My public radio station is WNYC, so all the local news comes out of New York City. I’m learning a lot.
I’ve had a number of very meaningful discussions with my son, a sergeant in the Army National Guard in NJ. I listen to him tell me about the rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, how he is trained foremost in conflict resolution and de-escalation of a situation. He has 10 years experience and two middle east deployments. I listen because there is nothing I can contribute to this. I have to listen to those who know more, have experienced more, and have something to say.
I have been wildly productive in these last three months, and it is a tough thing to just come here and say, “Oh look at my latest project, isn’t it lovely!” Because that seems so clueless and out of touch with what’s actually happening in the world. But it is what I know and what I’m good at. I’m working towards building a digital legacy of everything I’ve worked for for the last 50 years. In my own small world, it counts. I’d like to think I’ve made a difference in my students lives, and that I can continue to do that, until I can’t any more. I’m not sure how moving forward I’ll be able to teach safely, that students will be safe. I’ve had countless discussions with conference planners, arts venues, guilds and other venues that just don’t know where all this will end up.
My original goals were to slowly back away from teaching so I could focus on leaving behind a digital legacy. I never planned for the world to stop spinning the day I returned from teaching for 10 days in Oregon. But it has. And I’m so very grateful for a pension check, and for my children who both happen to be living here at the moment. And for my house full of animals. We have all we need, and we keep each other going, we laugh and we get pissed and we keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is a tough week for us as a family, four years ago probably to the day, we brought my husband home to die. He passed on the 17th of June. Father’s Day weekend. I can’t see a Father’s Day ad without choking up. It is really hard on my children.
And so, I will post what I finished up last week, because it is good. And it is what I do. And I refuse to try to give it some contextual artsy title that speaks of hidden meaning. I cut up old fur, wove it back together with some fun yarns that were laying around, finishing off a warp that has been languishing for too many years. I’m leaving it untitled. And it has pockets.
And yes, we have launched another pattern my daughter and I. This one is especially important to me because this is the pattern I started with, the beloved Daryl Jacket. I sold variations of this jacket for years in craft fairs, and then when I started teaching, I used this pattern, polished the fit model and launched my career creating a garment construction with handwoven fabric legacy.
There are of course a dozen patterns in my portfolio at this point. We have launched six. The 200 jacket is ready to go, that’s the one with all the darts that is more of a trim fit. Just waiting on the final edits for the instructions. My editor is very thorough.
So here is where you can access all the patterns I’ve launched to date. I’ve never worked so hard, and the days fly by, it is bedtime already. Again…
And as always, the directions for all of my patterns are available for free on my website. One of my friends on Facebook commented, “There’s an entire course in couture construction in your free directions. I am in awe of your attention to detail.” Thanks Marie. Makes it all worth it.
Stay safe, stay strong, and listen…