THE BACK STORY: In January 2016 I launched "Well Used, Well Loved" (WUWL)a long term community art project that explores age, beauty, impermanence and attachment through a hand woven dish towel and reflective writing/drawing. Eight households from England to Oregon "adopted" a hand woven linen towel to use however they wish. Every other week I sent a prompt for reflection to be recorded in a small journal that I provided. The response to my initial call to participate in WUWL was overwhelming. Over 50 households expressed interest in taking part in the project and I only had 8 towels.

So I created a secondary project that dovetailed with the first one. This second group of ultimately 38 households (Maine to Arizona) wrote and drew on kozo paper (a special Japanese paper) to record their response to my prompts. Thru a hands-on workshop at my studio I taught local folks from this group how to spin their kozo paper into thread using a Japanese technique called Shifu. I created a video tutorial for those who wanted to learn to spin their paper from afar.

Prompts to both groups were the same. For example Prompt #6 was: "The materials for this project are hand woven linen and Kozo paper. Both are created from plant fibers, known for their absorption qualities. Absorption can also been seen as dissolving boundaries. In that light what parallels or connection do you observe between your own ability to absorb, to soak up, to empathize? What connections do you perceive between your linen/paper and the action of union, of dissolving boundaries, connection? What value do these actions have today.

In September 2017 I began to collect the 8 towels, the kozo papers and the journals to wrap up the project. The journals, the used/loved towels and the completed four panel piece woven from the community threads combine to create an installation that honors and reflect the spirit of this project.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Well Used, With Love

Her well used, with love hands.
If there is one object that we can observe that is well loved and well used - it would be our hands. I mentioned this in the last post and the last project prompt.

My mother with her beautiful hands slipped away on the silvery trail of the full moon on June 20th at 9:10 PM.  Flying across Casco Bay, right out the Hussey Sound, she sailed towards a new horizon.

I photographed and drew her hands her last few days. It has been a distinct privilege and true joy to be her daughter - she was a true gift. I feel like I am just beginning to know her.

Me and Mom Summer 2012

Monday, June 13, 2016

Soft Matter

Soft matter: vulnerability and love

Prompt #9
Both our towel and our Kozo paper are soft materials - allowing them to show evidence of wear and tear - or use and love. Our physical bodies are similar, vulnerable to abrasion, cuts and also open to compassion and a tender caress.
Examine your hands - what signs of use and love do they illustrate?

What connections to your perceive between soft materials, vulnerability and love?
Hands and feet have stories to tell as us.
One participants response:"When we think of soft we often think of vulnerable but we don't as readily think of hard as brittle.
As a child I was obsessed with my hands and how smooth and "unused" they looked. I admired (OK, I was a weird child) old people's hands. The ropier the better.
And to think I have a pair of my own now!
I'm not sure if I thought things that had been used over a long period of time were more interesting but I think I did, were such hands more loved or more useful? I can
't say. Perhaps even more appreciated.
The kobo paper is a perfect example of soft and strong at the same time. People can be like that as well. Love always makes you vulnerable but who would choose to live without it?"