Monday, January 07, 2013

Weaving a Way in 2013

 2012 was a challenging year for me.  It started out with my moving from Vermont to NewYork to care for my terminally ill grandmother.  It was a challenging situation, but I wouldn't have wanted to do it differently. I will treasure for the rest of my life to have spent my grandmother's remaining days caring for her.  We had plenty more good days together at the end than difficult ones.  I got to spend many hours sharing stories, dreams, and experiences with her.  Needless to say, my creative work was strained during this time, being a full time care giver takes a lot more energy than I realized.  I told myself that soon I would be able to get back to creating. 

 My grandmother, Dellmarie Galbraith, passed away in April of 2012.  But getting back to creating was stalled further by an illness that to this day has gone undiagnosed.  I spent the remaining of 2012 seeing doctors, getting test after test, undergoing procedure after procedure, with little answers to the cause of abdominal pain, significant weight loss (over 25 pounds), neurological problems and a slew of other symptoms. Reading and watching movies was difficult, due to difficulty concentrating, painting was difficult due to poor fine motor skills, I was fatigued and weak most of the time. I pushed and tried my hardest to do as much as I could within the limits I was experiencing.  Finally, at the beginning of December, I lost hope in ever really learning what was wrong.  I sunk into a depression, as I mourned for the loss of so many things I enjoyed.  Looking to 2013 with no answers or possible treatments was disheartening.

Then, one morning, I looked at the herb garden beside the driveway and saw a single stalk of yarrow blooming among dead ones.  I knew instantly this was a message sent to me and I would have to explore it more closely. I have learned that Yarrow is good for the digestive tract and is a plant brought to North America by the Europeans, who used it for many things medicinal and non-medicinal.  In spiritual practices Yarrow is considered an herb of Healing and Strength. In some  Native American traditions, Yarrow appears as a plant totem representing my month of birth.  I saw this plant growing green and blooming in early December, despite the ice and snow, and realized it was  representing me and telling me that giving in to despair was not the way to begin 2013.  It was time to change my approach to my illness.

I have since embraced the notion of slowing down and taking my time.  I realized pushing myself to feel better, to convince myself that I can solve and get over this health problem was actually contributing to my fatigue and lack of energy. It was time to pull back, and find a way to work within my limitations, not to fight against them. While my stamina is still quite low, pacing myself and slowing down has nearly eliminated the worst of the fatigue. I no longer have fights in my head that I am wasting time when I sit quietly for an hour or two doing absolutely nothing.  I still cannot say I feel rested or refreshed, but I definitely feel less burdened. 

I have embraced silence. I found I actually need it like food.  Too much noise, or action becomes overwhelming and drains me.  I engaged in the quiet activities of spinning and weaving and practiced moving slowly and sleeping more.  As I did this, I began to see a path opening through the fog that my life had become shrouded in.  Since it is not clear how long it will take for me to get back to full health, I had to make some changes, so that I had something to look forward to in 2013. 

 The major element of 2013 would have to focus on my speed and pacing.  Slowing down and pacing myself to conserve my strength and prevent over taxing myself was key.  One day, while meditating, I thought of the Slow Food Movement, which has been growing in popularity in recent years.  I wondered if there is such a thing as Slow Art, and soon found that there was.

Slow Art emerged out of the Slow Movement philosophy that began in 1986. The Slow philosophy accepts that everything changes, and while the rate of change appears to be increasing, the pressure to match this speed increases as well.  Despite the changes taking place around us, our basic needs have changed very little. The need for community, the need for care, the need for rest and companionship, the need for quiet and stillness are met only through slowness of connecting with one’s self, one another and the natural world.  While the worlds of technology, mass communication, commerce and the consumption of resources grows faster and faster, a balance is needed that allows us to recover slowness in our lives. 

I have since decided that in 2013, my primary focus will be embracing the practice of Slow Art, which will focus solely on fiber arts. Such arts will include custom pet portrait and totem animal sculptures, spinning yarn and the creation of various handwoven tapestries over the course of the year.  

My practice of Slow Art will include:
  •  meditation and mindfulness;
  •  an exploration and appreciation of the history of spinning and tapestry weaving;
  •  the use of re-usable, recycled and sustainable materials;
  •  putting time into creating my own materials; 
  •  the creation of artwork from these materials and practices.
My activities in 2013 will include:
  • Creating custom needle-felted sculptures;
  • Hand spinning and dyeing yarn for tapestries;
  • Building my own tapestry looms;
  • Designing and hand weaving tapestries;
  • Following the progression of my practice through blogs and personal journals.

My public blog DoAn Art  will focus primarily on my needle-felted sculpture work and living the practice of Slow Art.  You can sign up for free updates on the subscription "Don't Miss a Post!" link on the blog page.

My private, patron-only blog DoAn Art Studio will share my exploration of tapestry weaving, loom building, the making and dying of yarn.  This blog will share works in progress and excerpts from my person journal. A monthly donation in an amount of your choosing will grant you access to the blog. You can post donations through my Fiscal Sponsor: Fractured Atlas Fiscal Sponsorship: DoAn Art. Upon donation I will send you an email on how to access the DoAn Art Studio blog site.

Donations received will go toward the purchase of supplies and to assist in administrative costs to support my efforts to produce artwork that celebrates nature and the virtues of embracing the philosophy of the Slow Movement.

It is my hope that I will demonstrate that my current illness does not have to be a hindrance, but the catalyst for change that will prove to be beneficial not only for myself and my art, but will allow me to continue to work toward contributing toward a better world.

Thank you for your consideration and support!

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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.  
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2013 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

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