Monday, February 24, 2014

How to honor our experiences with art

As I mentioned before, I save a lot of things that I think could potentially be used for art and I often remember where my art supplies come from - I remember that certain skeins of yarn were donated to me when I was facilitating knitting workshops at a cancer center. I know that other odds and ends of yarn were donated to me when I taught a knitting workshop as a meditative practice to high school kids. I have yarn that used to be a favorite sweater. I have a collection of bits and pieces of fabric, paper, and thread from participants in my Stitch Therapy workshop this past summer/fall. I have fabric from clothes that my kids wore when they were babies; old pillowcases and sheets from my husbands grandmother; hand-dyed fabric from college classes; leftover art supplies from student teaching... I keep all of these supplies because they hold meaning and because I want to honor the memories that I have of those people, places, and experiences in my life.

I honor those memories by incorporating bits and pieces of the yarn and fabric and paper into my artwork. I can look at the art I've created and remember how it felt to stitch the fabrics together and embroider texture and lines; I remember the comfort that I felt during that process and want others to feel that comfort when they see the work. So, not only am I honoring the experience I am also practicing self-care.

I am beginning to learn how important self-care is and how productive it can be. Without taking time for ourselves we become drained and tired making it more difficult to care for others. Self care is also different for everyone. My husband and I met at a rock climbing gym - his relaxation is climbing and as a family we take the kids climbing and spent quality time doing something we all love together. Personally, my art is my self care. Knitting and stitching are meditative, relaxing, and soothing. Just looking at my art or picking up some fiber makes me feel better. Walking through a gallery or museum is time well spent. There is a huge painting by Franz Kline at the DIA that I always stand in front of for a few minutes and feel completely happy no matter what else is going on.

I've also learned that the comfort I get from making my art is also experienced by people who own my work. This image shows my nephew showing off the new pieces in their home - yes, my brother and sister-in-law own these two pieces, so they might be a little bias with their statement, but they have told me how the art creates a calming atmosphere in the room.

"These two pieces are the perfect addition to our home.
The photos posted only begin to convey how unique and magnificent they are in person.
There is something about the texture of Kelly's work that draws the mind and heart in at the same time.
The ways that the fabric is stretched and draped and the fibers thread through inspire contemplation.  Visually these pieces continue to bring comfort and peace to our home each day.
We absolutely love Kelly's work. She is an amazing artist with an equally amazing heart."

Some of my work holds memories of people I no longer see or who have passed-away. My piece, Thinking of Mary, was something I created in memory of a friend of mine who died of cancer. She was an amazing artist and huge inspiration. We did not spend a lot of time together but I always respected her opinion and cherished her feedback. Creating Thinking of Mary was the best way for me to process the experience of having her a part of my life. The piece is now hanging in my brothers home and brings his family a sense of comfort, which I am grateful for. There are plenty of things that we can be sad about and worry about and be angry about but I prefer to find a way to be comforted by the positive experiences in my life and turn the negative experiences into something beautiful. That is my goal - for myself and for everyone who owns my work. I want my work to provide a sense comfort and peace in your home. Not everyone will agree or believe that our feelings and intentions can become a part of the work we create, but I believe it is possible. Like the feeling you get when you walk into a room where someone was angry and feel the tension - you could "cut the tension with a knife". Or when you walk into a room full of people laughing, you can't help but smile.

If you would like me to create a piece of fiber art to honor your experience, then let's work together to design a piece that uses some of your yarn or fabric or paper in a way that brings you joy. I want you to look at the artwork and smile and feel a sense of comfort and peace and be reminded of the great things in life. Follow this link to my website for the choices available.

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