I have been asked to write about this piece I call Humble Robe for a facebook group, High Art Fridays , that would like to include it in an online show. I have actually wanted to write about this piece for quite sometime. What better way to get back into my blogging groove after such an amazing (and distracting) garden year.
So yeah, I am a sometimes fiber artist. It has taken me a long time to be able to say the "A" word when referring to my Self. It was something that wasn't valued in my growing up years but, I have always had an Artist within me. In kindergarten I even wrote that I wanted to be an Artist when I grew up. I can't lay blame only to my upbringing for hampering my Art creating I am by nature a very pragmatic, practical person. I love to grow food, I want a semi clean house, I like to make things that are cute, practical, environmental, playful, and, occasionally, something on the edge of sublime comes out of me. I do, with ease, call my Self an obsessive compulsive maker of things. I am primarily self taught. I took some sewing in high school. Since then I have taught my Self to weave, spin yarn, bend wire, I enjoy exploring all sorts of techniques. I use all of these skills to create fiber art now and then.
So the Humble Robe Story~~~ It is a story about grief & healing~~~
Back in 2008 my brother-in-law, Harry, was diagnosed with a cellular cancer. After chemo, surgery that removed his stomach, and many other trials and tribulations, he died in the fall of 2010 at the age of 56. Harry was a really good guy. Many people loved him including, of course, my sister. Harry was very giving guy but, he could be a real dink (a word I learned from him!) sometimes. Really a regular guy who underwent all the kinds of evolutions in his lifetime. Through his illness we kept in touch, he on the west coast, me here in Maine. We talked a lot. He had to stop working and I was a stay at home mom of a teen...so I had time. The extraordinary thing about Harry was he never once said "why me?" He always said "why not me." Over time as the illness progressed I realized that when I spoke to Harry I was in the presence of Grace. It was humbling.
When he died I was grief stricken. I needed somewhere for that grief to go so I could heal. I select a word each year to study, think about, and muse over. For 2011 I chose Humble. I started to research and collect humble quotes and symbols off the internet. I have always enjoyed research. Back in the old days, before the internet, I could be found with many books in front of me researching a word, a thought, an idea, just for the fun of it! A big life change came with the invention of the posted notes, followed by the internet! Finally, I came across this quote by Thomas Merton. I did not come from a Catholic background so I had never even heard of Merton! I loved this quote. It is on the wall beside my computer to this day.
"In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist.” Thomas Merton
I had invented a sewing technique with an earlier piece, Label Cloak (another story for another time). Humble Robe would take this method even further. I am a seamstress, a sewist, a tailor...whatever term "suits" you. I love to make useful things like clothing and bags. I also love words and not just for their meaning but, also for how they look, their form. At the time I needed to pour my grief into something so I sewed to mend my soul. I "wrote" this quote with my own handspun Icelandic wool yarn by sewing it on to water soluble stabilizer. I chose the Monks Robe because of Thomas Merton. It is something he would have worn. The word humble is repeated over and over along the edge. On the hood and the sleeves I created a repeating pattern of Dwennimmen; humility and strength, a West African Adinkra Symbol. The front is the Adinkra Symbol Kintinkantan; arrogance and need for humility. I wanted the whole piece to be infused with humility. Once the words and symbols had been created it was a matter of sewing and sewing and sewing a stabilizing grid very reminiscent of a woven web. (I am a weaver too).
The stitching was a distraction, a prayer, a release.
I turned my grief into something beautiful and interesting. It has been in a few shows here in Maine and has, now again, created interest on the internet since I put it on Etsy. I feel Art is made to inspire a conversation. This conversation can be with others but, I find, the one most powerful is the one we have with our Self.
I would like to make more Art...I would like more hours in a day too! They way Art works with me is it comes when it must come. Art creating IS a part of my search for Joy in everyday things and events. I hope to have more "Art Talks" this winter...ah winter...I love winter! Who knows what a long cold Maine winter will bring forth~~~
©Deborah Diemer 2014
~~~~~~~~~~~My Lively Life~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fiber Art, Weaving, Hand Spun
Hand Made Eco and Upcycled Cutie Buntings, Clothes, & Toys
Vintage Collectibles, Buttons, Clothing & MORE!
Sea Glass & Copper Wire Ornaments with things I have gathered
My Blog~~Makings, Musings, & Lifestyle on the Land:
"Be Joyful because it is humanly possible"~~~Wendell Berry