Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finding Your Soul Through Your Hands and More Fall Fiber Exhibitions

This past week I heard a great interview on PBS by Jeffrey Brown of author Matthew Crawford. Crawford's new book, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work sounds like a great read. It is about the value of making things and doing things with our hands. I can't wait to read it. I also can't help but think it represents the current societal trend, as happened in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, of re-learning how to be a maker. Once again, people across the world are turning to making; this is evident in the popularity of knitting, quilting, scrapbooking, and in online places like etsy.

I have been teaching workshops, ostensibly on making, for decades now. What my workshops are really about, though, is reconnecting. If my workshops are successful, the participants come away understanding how to find and listen to their inner voices once again. Listening to that inner voice is crucial for artists, but is also a honed skill that anyone can benefit from. Why do you think gardening is so popular? When my website update is complete, I will be posting some tutorials from my workshops, some exercises you can try at home. You can then test this out for yourself. If you are feeling lost or disconnected, you can find your way home.

Speaking of workshops, years ago two sisters signed up for my class, Spirit Boxes, Sacred Vessels and Shrines. One of them, Gail Crum , really found her voice, and has been creating fabulous assemblages ever since, several of which I have in my own art collection. She, her artist husband Sean Crum and painter Richard Skerl will be exhibiting at the Pentagon Gallery in Cleveland Heights, Ohio beginning today. The show will be up through October 24th.

As I mentioned in my last post, the art exhibition season is gearing up. The postcard announcements and emails are pouring in from friends and colleagues, so I would like to highlight a few more exhibitions I have heard about. Some of the local (greater Cleveland) galleries do not have websites, so you'll have to find your way to those locales.

Rock Ghost 2 by Rebecca Cross, solo exhibit, Transformations: Shibori in Silk At the Fountain Gallery, Malone College in Canton, Ohio

Having completed her MFA a few years back, Cross' work has blossomed, as she shreds the line between work for the wall and work for the sky.

September 4 - 27, Beachwood (Ohio) Community Center, fiber artists Jean Evans, Carole Pollard, Sandy Shelenberger, Judith Kessler Smith and Sonja Tugend will be showing work in Fabrications x Five.

In St. Louis, Missouri, a happenin' fiber art city, you can see the work of my colleague Pat Owoc in several group show venues. Her solo exhibition, Not Altogether Whole, will open in the Charak Gallery at the Craft Alliance on September 11, and will be on view until October 25, 2009.

Detail, Rest Area 1 Mile, by Pat Owoc

Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend, a holiday which was designed to honor the work of our hands. Make something this weekend!


  1. I agree---the times I am at peace and feel the most useful/tuned into my being/purposeful is when I am creating or making. Not being able to have a large vegetable garden really whacked my psyche; it was like a portion of me was useless, dead.
    I firmly believe we are put here to bring life out of raw materials, that art and craft is a matter of the soul and that this horrid era of stock market enthrallment has damaged the country.
    There is nothing more wonderful than holding a piece of work in your hands that someone elses hands have created. Wonderful!!!

  2. You are so right, and this is my point, Anne. I think all people can benefit from using their hands, precisely because the quiet rhythm of creating and hand work allow us to connect to the soul.
    I also know what you mean about the garden. Mine is so overgrown, because I can't work for entire days keeping it up anymore. Sometimes it depresses me, because I loved the energy I had years ago to do it.

  3. Even when we hold our works close to our hearts when the hands are involved it becomes a natural synergy to reach out and touch another. This need to connect is even more powerful now for a multitude of reasons and quietly walk into the light of free creations.Imagine and live in Peace, Mary Helen Pat's work is inviting the wander lust for more travel. I hope to see you on Sunday at ODC.

  4. Thank you for the beautiful sentiment, Mary Helen. Work of and by the hand=touching and reaching out. Hugs to you.