May and June brought me two precious encounters with Kindred Spirits. (July brought a war between my camera and my computer, with a momentary truce attained just today.)
In May, I returned again to the Crow Timber Barn for another week with fiber artist Dorothy Caldwell.
Human Marks? This workshop is called In Place. It consists of various exercises that capture Dorothy's passion for experiencing place, recording information about it, and translating all this onto paper and cloth. Specifically, two small handmade books.
So there we were, 19 women. Some in pairs of friends or sisters, many on their own. We started with a simple map and three pins each. One by one, we pinned 1) where we were born; 2) where we live now...
"Look how much we impose on the land," Dorothy points out. "It is the library. It holds heritage, experiences, and people. It holds everything."
For Dorothy, everyplace is Place. Look how she records airplane landings from every trip.
She makes rubbings from soil or plant matter everywhere she goes (or ink wash, when the mood strikes). I noticed she uses a singular expression about her fieldwork and it fits: When I am working, when I am In the Land...
We start by comparing dirt she had asked us to bring from home...
|I couldn't get enough of this one.|
|As if you couldn't guess which one was mine.|
It didn't take long for me to feel underwhelmed by my own work. Seduced by the colorful pages emerging around me, I too took watercolor brush to paper. At which point I felt even worse. I had a sleepless night and then called Himself in tears. I don't know how paint works, I sobbed. He suggested that a one-week workshop might not be the place to master a new medium. And anyway, wasn't I there to learn and absorb the approach Dorothy takes to Place?
And feel grateful that you are in the midst of such talent, he added. Would you rather you were spending a week with people who didn't know how to do anything?
Sometimes, he is the most Kindred Spirit of all, that one.
I took his advice and surrendered into the warmth and comraderie in the studio.
I sat with the squares and within a few hours, had the last page of my book all sewn together.