This week a box came from my sister that held a quilt our Mom was adamant that I have. Opening the box transported me instantly to my adopted Mom and Dad’s house. Love smells like old books, coffee, flowers, swimming pool chlorine, Mom’s soap and cleaning products, wine, champagne, cigars and cigarettes. Here’s what the quilt looks like.
As I wrote on my email newsletter I remember well over 25 years ago when this quilt was being created by both Mom and Dad. The quilt took some time to do so I saw it in several stages of production. During each visit Mom and Dad told stories and talked about ideas that relate to the quilt. Rather than completely repeating what I already shared – here’s the main story and…
…a related story…
…along with the truth as illustrated below that both the light and dark parts of ourselves are accepted – we may wish to be more careful about what parts of ourselves that we “pick up” or choose to feed. But no matter what we are accepted just the way we are. (Btw: These stories are are in this book)
There are other quilt related thoughts on my email newsletter A.M. Sketching but here’s a look at the frame and mat we chose at the Aurora Gallery. The just off white mat looks like fabric, woven texture and all. That was one thing I’d enjoyed about Mom, her use of textured fabrics around her house. The frame we chose is a teak wood which reminds both my spouse and I of Dad’s bookcases.
While we were at the Aurora Gallery I realized my current exhibit was still there. This photo is what I could see just by turning my head from where the quilt was spread out. It felt like Mom and Dad got to visit my exhibit. Yes, I teared up at the thought and no one at the Gallery minded.
Both Mom and Dad were unbelievably supportive of my artwork. My art was displayed constantly in their house. So it feels extremely proper that their artwork will soon be displayed prominently in our house! According to the Gallery it will take about 2 weeks until the frame is ready. We already have a place of honor for it in our living room.
Over 15 years ago, during my Abstract art phase, Mom asked me to make a piece for a particular place in their house. Spirals, dots and piano keys were my visual interrelated motifs, each element feeding other elements… I titled it “Food For Thought”. It was about storytelling, the arts and feeding our minds and hearts. My mixed media painting was a response to the quilt and the quilt related stories.
Here’s “Food For Thought” as it was displayed in Mom and Dad’s house many years ago.
All of the above has me thinking of the importance of stories more generally. I’m painfully aware that book writers, illustrators, publishers, educators and librarians are currently under attack – and that books are being removed from public access. I’m feeling an urgency to support local bookstores and the general awareness of books that encourage creative people. So I’ve begun keeping a few publicly available book lists here on Bookshop.org – online book sales there benefit independent bookstores and a small benefit to affiliated people who keep book lists. We create the world together. I learned that too from Mom Penny and Dad.
Ursula K. LeGuin, an author Mom, Dad and I enjoyed together, says it extremely well.
This is why I value the idea of democracy and a nonviolent society. Democracy is the ideal of creating a civilization rooted in free thinking, in equality, in equal access to ideas, to a society based on rule of law, to fact based evidence, transparency, and the right to explore ideas without having to tiptoe on eggshells in fear of some authority figures displeasure, without fear of violence from those who disagree. To create society based on the stories we tell ourselves and each other rather than via the whims of a strongman, or fists or other weapons. Stories can be dangerous enough… part of growing up (or of good therapy) is to learn to distinguish helpful stories from the unhelpful ones. To learn this valuable lesson one needs access to a wide array of thoughts. As this article says “….if we lose our librarians, we lose a core element of our democracy.”
Anyway, all of this was swirling in my head along with my memories of Mom and Dad, storytellers both, and I cried. After I subsided a bit my spouse gently asked if a visit to a bookstore would feel good. I said yes so off we went to Broadway Books. When we entered the store a clerk asked if she could help. I asked for some hopepunk books, books with gentleness and kindness in them. Quickly a book of essays by Ross Gay was handed to me followed by 3 fiction titles. Here’s a selfie of me waiting in the fiction section while the clerk looked up another title. She was so kind!
After a good browse we were at the counter paying for our books. Since we’d gotten so many books they gave us a thick cloth bag to hold them all. I teared up suddenly remembering how Mom made thick reusable cloth bags long before they were normal in stores. Mom even made cloth bags with drawstrings for use when wrapping presents rather than using paper. Whenever we had our lunch meetings at restaurants Dad would bring his Mom-made cloth bag with books in it and I would bring my Mom-made cloth bag with my sketchbook and other books… So there I was standing at the Broadway Books checkout counter with tears running down into my mask. Again no one minded. Everyone was so kind! I waited until we were outside to take my mask off to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.
Here’s the stack of books we came home with.
So I think we chose well. As both Mom and Dad often said “Stories, for better or worse, inform how we relate to our own emotions and experiences”.
Specifically I found this book and it’s chapter about dealing with grief while getting on with one’s creative life to be helpful. Here’s a link for it on my new Bookshop.org page. (Fyi: I’m probably going to mention more often the books I’m finding helpful…)
Here’s a recent sketchbook page… Mom and Dad had cats, Mom liked orchids…
I hope your week is full of love, kind people and helpful stories. See you next Monday.
9 thoughts on “Quilts, love and the importance of stories”
Just from that sneak peak, I can tell that your heirloom quilt is going to look magnificent framed and I love that the framing elements themselves also speak to the memories of and connections with your parents. I am glad that you were able to go book shopping as a balm in a time of emotional need. Thank you for introducing me to the term “hopepunk” too.
Thank you so much for your comment!! I’m looking forward to sharing with you the photos of the quilt framed and on our wall! And you’re quite welcome for the “hopepunk” term! I’m loving this subgenre – it helps! ❤❤
I didn’t realize that you had an Abstract art phase. I love the painting; it looked right at home on your parents’ wall. It must have given them a lift every time they entered the room and caught sight of it. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a wonderful book to raise one’s spirits. My mother and I both loved it.
On the not so wonderful side of things, your comment about the importance of librarians for a democracy reminded me of a position paper the Author’s Guild put out last week protesting the withdrawal of town funding for a public library in the midwest due to the inclusion of LGBTQ-focused books. The library had to close. I never, ever thought I would see that in this country.
Lol!! Thank you for your kind words about my Absract phase – and about the painting on my parents wall!!
Thank you too for your comment about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I am looking forward to reading it.
Yes, I agree, I too never thought I’d see library closures in this country. Back in 2010 the library in the town where we were living in Oklahoma had a horribly contentious town meeting about the display of about 4 LGBTQ positive books in the library. (That library already kept books about art and poetry behind the desk…so to have any LGBTQ books available even behind the desk was brave). One young man committed suicide after that meeting. My spouse and I called a realtor in the state we now call home and relocated. (Aka ran screaming)
I had really hoped we, as a country, had moved on from those days. But Oklahoma certainly hasn’t. Just last week an Okla teacher was fired because she let kids access books. They say publicly she “resigned” but there was pressure…
Anyway, I’m glad to be living outside the midwest but I see the attacks on libraries, teachers as a bellwether for our democracy.
You’re welcome, Sue.
I agree with you about the bellwether for our democracy. We’re halfway to mob rule already.
True. It’s part of why I currently feel driven to read and promote books… if we’re to have a chance to avoid mob rule besides being certain to vote we need to practice reading and reflection….
These upcoming elections are very high stakes.