Archeology

 

archaeology. c.1600, “ancient history,” from French archéologie (16c.) or directly from Greek arkhaiologia “the study of ancient things;” see archaeo- + -ology

STRATA 1: Studio

I am stuck.

When I said “No’ to exhibiting Welcoming the Stranger in Tucson, I broke my cycle of creation. For 9 months I research, plan, and then ‘deliver’ the art work. I then take 9 months to recover: to earn money, to eat right, to sleep and exercise, and to reconnect to friends.  And then I begin again.

During ‘recovery’ I look for a little-known piece of history that is echoed in current day events.  All my projects have focused on the past: Seeds of Change, Invisible Legacy, Heifer Relief, Palimpsest series, Liber. I then choose the materials that best convey the idea, concept or message.

Eighteen months have passed.

I am stuck.

Writers call it writers block. I call it ‘stuck.’

Sometimes when I am stuck, I clean the studio.

IMG_1114I re-shelve previously exhibited works – already boxed, labeled and stored

I sort through sketches, photos, unused materials, postcards.

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I am still stuck.

Most artists keep sketchbooks and record ideas on various scraps of paper. I keep journals. I document the personal and political, big projects and small, workshops, dreams – day to day anguish and Artist’s Way morning pages. I record my adventures on trips, people I meet along the way, even the cost of gas and food. There are lists of what I hoped to accomplish, places to visit. I even found my “obituary” written at a workshop on death and dying. (Unlike Jefferson who believed he would one day be famous, I do not include copies of my correspondence.)

Sometimes when I am stuck –  I read my journals.

STRATA 2: Journals

Journal entry: Toronto, 1986

The Tate Modern in London houses the national collection of British art from the 1900 to present: the exhibit rooms are arranged by eras. – a kind of archeological foray through the history of art. http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern. It also maintains a large collection of Henry Moore sculptures.

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I have a very clear memory of seeing the work before – but not in England. The Art Gallery of Ontario houses Moore’s plaster and bronze models and the stones that inspired him. According to a journal entry, I visited the gallery in 1986 but recall only a desk from his studio on which small bones and maquettes resided.

I wrote I wanted to create art and have a studio in the country.

Journal entry: Maryland, 1994

My Firehouse Studio is located in the farming community of Carroll County, Maryland. I held a 100 th birthday party for it as part of a House Tour – complete with cake and candles. However, it is more than 100 years YOUNGER than the Dielman Inn of New Windsor – only 4 miles away.

The Town of New Windsor was laid out and surveyed into 28 lots in 1797 …

…One of the most notable structures in town is the 10,000 square foot, 42 room Dielman Inn at High and Main Streets. It was a popular gathering place for vacationers from the 1870s through its closing in 1927. The proprietor was Louis William Dielman, a former professor of music at Calvert College in town. He delighted in sponsoring after-dinner concerts, musicales, lectures, skits and tableaux featuring guests who hailed from as far away as New York

 

 

An archeological “dig” takes place every Saturday at the Dielman Inn and is open to members of the community. The ‘privy’ collection includes pieces of pottery, broken tools, detritus from the 1700’s and later.

In her day job, Lisa Macurak teaches ancient history to middle schoolers but her passion is archeology. She shares her time and knowledge with anyone willing to listen while they uncover a piece of history.

 

IMG_0390I wanted to be an archeologist in my next life.

Journal Entry: Taos, New Mexico, 2000

I always wrote. Poems, stories, scripts, letters to editors. At one time I had a column in a local newspaper.

At the Aztec Ruins National Monument there is an exhibit that depicts the various layers in the geological history of the site and objects revealed during its excavation. There are placards with explanations based on the thinking of the archeologists at that time.

Traditional Puebloan attitudes about ruins are that every place has its life and once it has been abandoned, it is proper and respectful that it be allowed to return to the natural elements of which it was originally created.

What are the elements from which words are created?

STRATA 3: Words

I have decided to shred my journals.  As I tear out the pages and feed them into the shredder, I read each one. It is somewhat freeing – and at the same time – fills me with nostalgia.

Shredding my journals is like being an archeologist of my own life —

The annual New Year’s resolutions, recorded dreams still requiring more analysis than I have time for, and the litany of what I haven’t accomplished in my artist life as well as my personal life, fill the pages. (it also appears I have the same 30 lbs to lose – intermittently – and regain eventually. And ALWAYS need new walking shoes.)

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My studio is now littered with bags of my shredded journals. I am still stuck but now I am also stuck with the detritus of my writing – a lot of it.

I always attend the Biennial Book Arts Fair. https://www.pyramidatlanticbookartsfair.org Artists exhibit their hand-made paper and one of a kind Artist Books – There are calligraphers and letter press printers. There are sculptures made from paper pulp.

When you studied Maine commerce in 4th grade, you learned about potatoes and paper. When I entered Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center doors,  I was thrown back in time to rainy days growing up in Maine when the smell of the SD Warren paper mill reached our noses. The mill was a major employer at that time.

http://wgme.com/news/in-depth/maines-pulp-and-paper-industry-by-the-numbers

Today, I would describe the smell as kombucha made from trees.

Gretchen Schermerhorn is the PAAC artistic director and an artist in her own right. She creates works on paper and sculptures with paper.

http://gretchenschermerhorn.com/section/294491-Sculptural.html .IMG_1016

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I spent several days working with Gretchen. I combined my shredded pages with water in a Hollander beater. As the paper and water mix, a slurry is formed.

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Forty-five minutes later, I have paper pulp – lots of it. Then I fill 5 gallon buckets with the mixture. It is a very physical process.

My journals produced 50 gallons of paper pulp – IMG_1020

its color derived from the blending of all the ink from all the words.IMG_1015

(For a 6 minute quick overview of paper making you can do at home, check out: Pulp and Deckle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE2VWojDb1g )

 

STRATA 4: Museum

The term archaeology, was not used until early in the 17th Century. Prior to this there was no real desire to carefully preserve the history of long forgotten cultures.

….‘However, Europe’s Dark Ages were slowly being illuminated by a revived thirst for education. The newly invented printing press had placed bibles in the hands of those outside of the clergy and there was renewed interest in the biblical sites of antiquity.’Wikipedia

Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie is historical fiction. ‘Johannes Gutenberg was a German blacksmith whose printing press has been widely considered the most important invention of the modern era because it profoundly impacted the transmission of knowledge. ‘ The book traces the development of the printing press in a world of monastic scribes through the eyes of one of those scribes.

Scriptorium (/skrɪpˈtɔːriəm/  literally “a place for writing”, is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribeshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scriptorium

 Thousands of books of hours made between 1250 and 1700 survive today in libraries and museums,… No two are exactly alike, although they share one group of devotions. That text, a set of prayers in eight sections meant to be said at regular intervals throughout the twenty-four-hour day, is called the Hours of the Virgin, and is the basis for the term book of hours.  https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hour/hd_hour.htm

One of the largest collections of illuminated manuscripts is housed in the Walters Gallery of Art in Baltimore.

Nine hundred illuminated books of hours and manuscripts are preserved in the lower level of #5 Mt. Vernon Sq.IMG_1111

Although they have been digitized and can be viewed on line https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umOc5nXmO_U , I am adamant about seeing the books in situ. They are available for viewing (by appointment only) at the Original Manuscript and Rare Book Library.

Access to the library is via a labyrinthian path for which you need a guide. Nicole Berlin majored in archeologist but spends her days researching and translating manuscripts written in Latin or Greek.

As we make our way to the Library, we stop to examine an exhibit of the history of paper and book making – with examples of the implements, tools, and materials used to illuminate manuscripts.

The library looks like a set from an Agatha Christie mystery. Shelves of ancient tomes line the walls. A globe occupies a corner of the room. Displayed on a large wooden table are 4 books resting in wooden cradles—designed to protect the fragile bindings.

 

The viewing process is frustrating because only the Curators are allowed to turn the pages. (No white gloves.) To view the details, I must rely on Nicole’s descriptions and analysis. We discuss the content of the books, the design of pages, intricate patterns, gilding.

IMG_1102Although we are strangers, there is a kind of intimacy created by the proximity of our heads as we peer at the pages. I am sure that we look as if our heads are bowed in prayer. Or at least a monk peering at his work as he creates an illuminated manuscript.

After years of creating large scale community based art, my friends want me to limit the size of my next artwork to that of a shoe box – .

50 gallons of pulp could be formed into paper –  a lot of it.

I may no longer be stuck.

 

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Sanctuary

Sanctuary

A place of refuge or safety

A nature preserve

A sacred place

The innermost recess or holiest part of a temple or church

I am once again on Peaks Island.

It is a place where I wake to the caws of crows as they trail after the trash truck.

It is a place where bird sightings – snowy owls, guillemot, night herons, downy woodpeckers –are shared via the Nextdoor listserv https://peaksisland.nextdoor.com/news_feed/.

It is a place where the eider ducks are busy protecting their babies from the newly arrived eagles. The adults form fortresses with their bodies as they shepherd their babies to and fro. https://youtu.be/2rlHaF4vq1g

It is a place when in 1946, the Davies sisters bequeathed their property to the “preservation and development of the wild beauty of the estate and the attraction, propagation and preservation of song birds.”

Sanctuary – A place of refuge or safety.

I am staying in what was formerly called the Lemon Cottage. Scheduled for demolition in 2001, my landlords – avid architectural preservationists – purchased, dismantled, relocated and rebuilt the circa 1860 style cottage – minus its kitchen and bathroom. Due to the fact they had not numbered the boards, there were a few leftover pieces post reconstruction. The cottage now serves as a woodshop, boathouse, and my “nest.”

 

Surrounded by trees, the Nest is ‘feathered’ with side-of-the-road furniture. In exchange for the use of the Nest, I open their cottage at the beginning of the summer. There is a 2-page list of “to do’s” – posted on Leonard (the refrigerator) including but not limited to:

Outside:

Turn on the water (requires crawling under a building,) arrange for electric (flip circuits), remove tarps, charge the car battery and test brakes, remove shutters, rake leaves—take leaves to the compost bins at the community garden.

Inside:

Spray for ants, vacuum up bodies; look for rodent evidence (don’t vacuum up their bodies), unpack EVERYTHING stored in plastic bags, discard dryer sheets used to deter rodents (sometimes effective.)

As I unwrap their art, I recognize works created by many of the island artists. My hosts support of all forms of art – paintings, ceramics, clothing – even my community-based work Welcoming the Stranger.

This year, I am adding sculpture to their collection. In 1998 I built labyrinths throughout Maryland. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2013/02/

Since then, three 8’ ceramic reliefs – Demeter, Persephone, and Hecate – have been waiting for a permanent home. They have found it at the Nest.

 

Here I can focus on being a naturalist, an artist, a writer. (And a cottage concierge.)

Here I can give myself permission to not worry.

Here I rest until I am renewed.

Here I am supported by friends.

It is a sanctuary built on kindness.

 

Sanctuary: A nature preserve

I have a bucket list. I no longer wish to visit creations produced by humans but want to experience creations that existed before humans. Each adventure requires travel and specific timing:

  • Witness the monarch migration in California;
  • Experience the aurora borealis in Iceland (with a few active volcanoes and hot springs thrown in); and
  • Kayak with humpback whales in Tongo.

There are two ‘families’ of butterflies. Those east of the Rockies migrate to Mexico; those west of the Rockies stay in California and occupy towns along the Monterey coast from October to February. http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-migration.html

For my February birthday, my sister and I ‘migrated’ to the Monarch Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California. Since the 1930’s, Pacific Grove has been Butterfly Town USA.

http://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/visiting/monarch-butterfly-sanctuary

It is easier to locate a coffee shop in Pacific Grove than to witness monarchs flying. For butterflies to fly, it must be sunny, 60 degrees or above and NOT raining. 2017 has been the wettest winter in 122 years along the Monterey peninsula (and elsewhere in California.)

According to the docent, sightings were down dramatically. No one is exactly sure why. The butterfly is now a ‘climate refugee.’

There are 5 stages from egg to adult monarch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocWgSgMGxOc

Milkweed is critical to the process. It is the only plant on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs and is the primary food source for monarch caterpillars.

The plant decreased 21 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2013. Scientists, conservationists, and butterfly enthusiasts are encouraging people to grow milkweed in their own yards and gardens – to create Monarch Waystations – pesticide free zones – sanctuaries.

The community gardens at both the Pipe Creek Meeting house in Maryland and on Peaks Island are home to pollinator plants and native milkweed. (And we compost.)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-monarch-butterfly-milkweed-environment-ecology-science/

 

Sanctuary: A place of refuge or safety.

Linda Rabben in her book: Give Refuge to the Stranger traces the history of sanctuary since ancient times. She believes altruism – in primates and other animals – is at its foundation. The historical roots of the movement derive from the right of sanctuary in medieval law and Jewish and Christian social teachings.

“ ….Human beings may have given refuge to strangers for 100,000 years or more. So many societies around the world practice or have practiced it that it can be considered a human universal, a characteristic of our species as a whole.”

The Sanctuary Movement was a religious and political campaign that began in the early 1980s to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict. The movement was a response to federal immigration policies that made obtaining asylum difficult for Central Americans.

At its peak, Sanctuary involved over 500 congregations in the United States which, by declaring themselves official “sanctuaries,” committed to providing shelter, protection, material goods and often legal advice to Central American refugees. Various denominations were involved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_movement

Several prominent Sanctuary figures were arrested and put on trial in the mid 1980s, including its two “founders”: Rev. John Fife – Southside Presbyterian Church and Jim Corbett – a Quaker.

Busted by Federal Agents, a Tucson Pastor Keeps the Sanctuary Light Aflame for Fleeing Salvadorans – Vol. 23 No. 12

Today, Reverend Fife continues the work of welcoming strangers to Tucson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwHOACm3Yaw

 

Sanctuary: A sacred place

 The word sanctuary comes from the Latin word for sacred place.

 Tucson is located about 100 miles from the border with Mexico. It is surrounded by the Santa Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountain ranges.

It is a city that welcomes strangers.

 

I met Mary Koopman on the Peaks Island ferry. On our ride to Portland, we had a conversation about death and dying. She is a nurse specializing in hospice care. We have kept in touch over the years as our lives evolved. She moved to Tucson, was ordained as a Buddhist priest and established the Sky Island Zen sangha. She volunteers with a refugee resettlement program. (On my first day visiting her, we transported donated furniture to a newly arrived refugee family.)

She believes Tucson may be a place to install Abraham’s Tent and pursue another exhibition of Welcoming the Stranger. https://www.facebook.com/welcomingthestrangerart

Once again, I research possible venues, make appointments and follow leads. I travel to Tucson.

I attend the Handweavers and Spinners Guild annual meeting. More than 200 weavers and spinners were there. A member invited me to speak to her college class about community-based art.

I visit the Warehouse Arts Management Organization Gallery – housed in a 4000 sq ft historic warehouse in downtown Tucson. It has been a catalyst in the renaissance of the downtown arts district. It could house the exhibit and provide space for additional events.I meet with gallery curators and advocacy organization directors including The Jewish Historical Museum of Tucson, Jewish Community Center, YWCA.

 

 

 

 

All make time to talk with me.

All are underfunded.

 

Sanctuary: the innermost recess or holiest part of a temple or church From Latin sanctuarium, from sanctus ‘holy.’

My last day in Tucson, I attended the Religious Society of Friends meeting. http://pima.quaker.org

Quakers sit in silence and listen for that still, small voice within for guidance. It was a warm spring day. The windows were open. The curtains fluttered in the breeze.

The hour passed in complete silence.

At the potluck lunch, I spoke about Welcoming the Stranger and my ‘call’ to create the work. I provided hand outs on the history of the project, what was needed to mount the show and how unclear I was about whether to exhibit in Tucson.

Someone suggested a book in the meeting’s library: Callings – Finding and Following an Authentic Life 1998 by Gregg Levoy.

http://www.gregglevoy.com/callings/index.html

As I flipped through the pages – a phrase caught my eye:

Saying No to a Calling.

In 2015, Welcoming the Stranger was exhibited at the Maine Jewish Museum and examined the history of immigration in Maine and immigration today.

In 2016, Guilford College, a Quaker school and home of Every Campus A Refuge, sponsored its installation in the City of Greensboro, NC – an official sanctuary city.

To exhibit Welcoming the Stranger in Tucson, I would have to proceed without secured financial support or a sponsor.

A clearness committee is a group of Friends (Quakers) appointed to help a member of the meeting find clarity around a leading. A clearness committee’s job is to help the person discover whether there is clarity to move forward with a matter, wait, or take other action.

https://www.fgcquaker.org/resources/clearness-committees-what-they-are-and-what-they-do

As I write this blog entry, the United States government is considering legislation to cut federal funding to all cities that declare themselves ‘sanctuary cities. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/02/us/sanctuary-cities.html action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

 

How did medieval societies decide to pursue the rule of law rather than allow mob rule?

How did the members of the Sanctuary Movement decide that their spiritual beliefs superceded the law of the land?

How does a city and its people decide to remain a sanctuary city rather than receive federal funds?

How does an artist choose between following a calling or letting it go?

 

I continue to listen for the still, small voice within.

 

Welcoming the Stranger is a 501 3c organization. If you would like to make a donation, make check payable to the Welcoming the Stranger Fund and send to:

Community Foundation of Carroll County

355 Clifton Blvd # 313

Westminster MD 21157

Or donate directly with Pay Pal:

http://www.carrollcommunityfoundation.org/funds.asp?fund_id=252

 

Inauguration

Inauguration:

 From French inauguration “installation, consecration,” and directly from Late Latin inaugurationem (nominative inauguratio) “consecration,” presumably originally “installment under good omens;” noun of action from past participle stem of inaugurare “take omens from the flight of birds; consecrate or install when omens are favorable,” from in- “on, in” (see in- (2)) + augurare “to act as an augur, predict” (see augur (n.)).

It’s January.

It’s cold.

It’s gray.

I am drinking Peace on Earth coffee and wearing ‘glittens’ as I write this blog. I am listening to the morning news on the radio.

img_3932Peace on Earth coffee is grown in Peru and Columbia and processed in Madison, WI. I know this because as a SERRV “customer care” representative, I was frequently asked questions about the growing and production of their coffee. http://www.serrv.org/product/organic-peace-on-earth/coffee-tea

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To learn more about the role of coffee in my art process refer to https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/ing-part-2/

The mission of SERRV International is to “promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner.” www.serrv.org

 SERRV was started in 1949 by the Church of the Brethren – one of the traditional peace churches that include the Quakers and Mennonites. Peace churches are churches, groups or communities advocating pacifism or Biblical nonresistance. I first learned about the peace churches when creating Heifer Relief: Compass, Ark, Berth a multi media installation about the ‘seagoing cowboys’ of WW2. https://www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2014/March/honoring-heifers-history.html

SERRV began importing handicrafts from the world’s least developed countries as a way to alleviate poverty. Recognized for adhering to fair trade principles, it currently works with 85 small-scale, cooperatively run producer groups in 35 countries.

I wish that drinking coffee and wearing handmade gloves could pave the way to peace – between people, between communities, between countries….

But as the BBC radio program ends,  I realize the road to peace is still long.

 

Inauguration: the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.

All we are saying…is give peace a chance.

The Beatles’ song quickly became the anthem of the anti Vietnam-war and counterculture movements. In November of 1969, a half a million demonstrators sang it in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day. I moved permanently to Washington in 1975 after graduating from Gallaudet University to become a teacher of the hearing impaired at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School.

In 1977, I attended President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and  interpreted his speech for hearing impaired friends. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=6575

His speech outlined a road map to healing – out cities, our country, our world –

“Within us, the people of the United States, there is evident a serious and purposeful rekindling of confidence. And I join in the hope that when my time as your President has ended, people might say this about our Nation:

–that we had remembered the words of Micah and renewed our search for humility, mercy, and justice;

–that we had torn down the barriers that separated those of different race and region and religion, and where there had been mistrust, built unity, with a respect for diversity;

–that we had found productive work for those able to perform it;

–that we had strengthened the American family, which is the basis of our society;

–that we had ensured respect for the law and equal treatment under the law, for the weak and the powerful, for the rich and the poor; and

–that we had enabled our people to be proud of their own Government once again.

I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had built a lasting peace, based not on weapons of war but on international policies which reflect our own most precious values.

In 1978, the Camp David Accord resulted in a cessation of hostilities between Egypt and Israel. Anwar Sadat was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine. He and Menacham Begin shared the Nobel Peace prize._1632849_campdavidap300

In 1981 Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Since then, there have been other attempts at peace and other assassinations ending the progress. From 2003 – 2011, there have been 37 armed conflicts throughout the world – some still ongoing – most we know little about.

In A Land Twice Promised,  an Israeli woman and a Palestinian woman intentionally begin a dialogue to share their personal and political histories — one conversation at a time – over a long period of time. The author,  Noa Baum adheres to the belief expressed by the Quaker peace hero Gene Knudsen-Hoffman:

“an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”

http://www.compassionatelistening.org/archive/gene.html

 

All we are saying… is give peace a chance.

The 1st Amendment guarantees the right to peacefully assemble.

Philadelphia 081

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

My first protest march was accompanying my mom at the Mothers March in Portland, Maine in the 1960’s. The local swimming beach had been closed due to sewage pollution. In a neighborhood populated by a large number of low-income school-aged children, there was no alternative. Parents were unable to afford private day or sleep away camps. Prospects for recreation during the summer were bleak.

The Mothers were victorious. The City of Portland not only constructed a pool but hired life guards – many from the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.

(Full disclosure: I taught swimming there for 4 years.)

As the seat of the federal government, Washington D.C. has “hosted “ protest marches since the inception of the country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protest_marches_on_Washington,_D.C.

1900 – 1949         7

1950 – 1999          48images

2000 – 2009         40

2010                           7

2011                           3ueuh_0001_0005_0_img0238

2012                           6

2013                           4

2014                           1

2015                           2

 

In the book Democracy’s Big Day – Jim Bendar tells the story of the history of protests. In 1913, prior to Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, 1000’s of women marched for the right to vote. http://wamu.org/story/17/01/09/trumps-inauguration-will-bring-protests-part-long-tradition/

 

Inauguration: a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.

img_3929I live in a town of 900+ people that is approximately 1 mile square. Unknown to most of the inhabitants, the street names reflect its settlement by the Quakers in the 1700s : Farquhar, Shepherd’s Mill, Quaker Hill. The Pipe Creek Friends Meeting opened its doors in 1771 and still welcomes those who “ Seek that of God in everyone.”img_3926

I became a member of Pipe Creek Friends Meeting in 2001 as we prepared to invade Afghanistan. I wanted some place in which to build community and continue my search for “a lasting peace” – though now it would be a more intimate quest through personal prayer and non violent action.

In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee created a traveling exhibit – Eyes Wide Open – intended to “present a visual reminder of the human cost of the Iraq War and provide a place for public mourning….’

The exhibit contains a pair of combat boots to represent every American soldier and marine that has died in the war, as well as a pile of shoes representing Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives during the invasion and occupation. At that time, the exhibit contained 504 pairs of boots. https://www.flickr.com/photos/124651729@N04/28789922374

National Mall - Eyes Wide Open Exhibit

From my journal May 13, 2006:

It was the day before Mother’s Day.

Bookended by the Capitol and the Washington Monument, we marched in silence. The only sounds were the steady rhythm of our feet like a steady heart beat, Shush shush, shush shush, on the pebbled path. We walked – a small group of protesters – and then gathered to listen as names of the most recent casualties were read aloud.

I had seen her earlier, affixing a red, white, and blue banner to a pair of highly polished boots. Tending this tiny shrine, she was adding a personal note and a photograph. I averted my eyes because it seemed to be such a private moment, although it was occurring in the midst of a public protest.

I didn’t know what to say.

What do you say to a mother who has lost her child to war?

 Nothing. You just listen.

I kneeled next to her. We talked about her son, how she and her husband had become Gold Star parents against the war. We exchanged addresses. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-parents-of-fallen-heroes-unite-scott-pelley-2/

As a community-based artist, I attempt to create works that reflect individual feelings and ideas within a larger – often historic – context.

Not long after, I received a letter with a poem she had written – A Mother‘s Prayer. She hoped I could find a way to incorporate it into my artwork.

 

Inauguration: the formal admission of someone to office.

In classical Rome, augury sought the divine will regarding any proposed course of action which might affect Rome’s pax, fortuna and salus (peace, good fortune and well being).

INAUGURATIO was the ceremony by which the augurs endeavored to obtain the sanction of the gods.

The augur was a priest. His main role was interpreting the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds: whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are.

We cannot foresee the future. I could not have known that it would take 5 years to create a work of art that reflected the feelings of grief – in the nation, in the community, at a protest and in a mother that I witnessed on that day in 2006.

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Sometimes it takes years for the disparate pieces of an idea to be woven into a fully realized work of art.

I dug the blood red clay at the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts and it “marinated” in 5-gallon buckets for 10 years under a worktable in my studio.

I found the steel cage in a barn 7 years ago and stuck it in my garden where morning glories intertwined with it – making it invisible.cage-at-gallery2

It was not until five years ago that the sound of mourning doves echoed my heartache about the continuing conflicts .

 

Doves, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups.

And so I started to make ocarinas shaped like doves.

Each clay dove fit into the space created by my hands in prayer._llf3459

 

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With the help of friends, I pit fired the 365 small birds.

The doves survived the flames.

The ashes became the nest.

The steel cage became the Dovecote.

Each dove is an ocarina that sounds like a mourning dove.

 

 

It’s Not Always Pretty

The effectiveness of augury could only be judged retrospectively. I cannot predict the future. I cannot know if a Presidential inauguration unifies a country or if protest marches change the course of history or if art contributes to lasting peace.

Still, I am preparing for another inauguration.

Still, I am preparing for another march.

Still, I am preparing for another exhibit.

Each time I install Dovecote: 365 Prayers for Peace, I pray as I place each dove in the cage.

I pray for peace in the cities;

I pray for peace in the country;

I pray for peace in the world.

I pray for ‘lasting peace.’

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Always Pretty Exhibit – http://www.theartistsgalleryfrederick.com

The Artist Gallery

216 N. Market St

Frederick MD

January 7 – January 29

Hours:  Fri, Sat 12 – 9 pm  Sun. 12 – 5

By appointment: 301 696 8187

TR Wailes delivers Dovecote.

TR Wailes delivers Dovecote.

Welding Contractors llc built the base.

365 doves to be installed.

365 doves to be installed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s March Controversy: To wear or not to wear a “Pussy Cat” hat.pussy-hats

main_600

1913 Women’s March – hats!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-womens-march-needs-passion-and-purpose-not-pink-pussycat-hats/2017/01/11/6d7e75be-d842-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.2be9fc8523b5

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/03/100-years-ago-the-1913-womens-suffrage-parade/100465/

 

 

 

 

A MOTHER’S PRAYER

O God

How do I pray for my son at war?

How can I ask you to keep him safe without at the same time

asking to not keep some other mother’s son safe?

I want you to end this war.

Now.

But, while he is there, please fill him with your holy spirit

and fill his buddies as well.

Guide them, give them the knowledge you wish for them.

Fill them with love and compassion

for each other,

for those that they fight for,

and for those that they fight against.

Please don’t let them become hardened.

Be with him when he takes the life of another, for we have taught him that life is sacred

Soothe his pain, his anger, his guilt

Most of all, God, don’t let him be afraid

Make your presence known to him.

Make the love of his family known to him

the near idolatry of his sisters,

the pride of his father,

and those undefinable emotions that stirred in me when I first felt him in my womb.

Please don’t let him feel fear.

I am afraid, God,

This feeling is awful

Nearly crippling

Please don’t let him be afraid

Please don’t let him be afraid

Please don’t let him be afraid

“A Prayer to a Dying Son” was written by Lorene Davey for her son Seamus. KIA 21 October 2005.

 

Next.

IF I am Not going to Disney world…what next?

When I was bored as a child, I would ask my Mom for something to do.  Her response was always:

If you don’t know what to do next, just do something.

Next: Learn something.

rosehip-01

Beach Roses—that is what most people call rosa rugosa. Rugosa means wrinkled. They are very high in vitamin C.

Rosa rugosa was first introduced into North America in 1845. The first report of it being naturalized far from the location in which it was planted occurred on Nantucket in 1899. Ten years later it was said to be “straying rapidly” and today it is naturalized on the entire coast of New England. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_rugosa

So I learned to make rose hip jelly. It’s a long tedious process.

1. Park at the side of the road along back shore of Peaks Island, Maine

2. Pick rose hips until your back is tired or the sun set takes your breath away. sunset

3. Sort through and discard gushy wormy ones. De- stem.rosehip-1

 

 

 

4. Cut in half

5. Place in large potrosehip-2

6. Cover with water

7. Simmerrosehip-3

8.Intermittently mash down with potato masher

 

9. Strain in cheese cloth straining

10. Freeze juice

And in the middle of winter when you are stuck in the house during a snowstorm, make the jelly.

 

Small world: While living in Portland prior to the Welcoming The Stranger exhibit, I re-connected with the community in which I had grown up – the Munjoy Hill neighborhood, Etz Chaim synagogue, forgotten relatives, summer camp friends, class mates – (even my senior prom date.)

Each #weavethetent event, First Friday openings or  a community workshop became a kind of ‘Pop Up’ Reunion.

One of those chance encounters was with a member of my high school swim team – Sherry Dickstein. We had served together on the newspaper, Year Book, social club, prom committee. She became a doctor and resides in Greensboro, NC. And by the way, her husband, Dr. Kurt Lauenstein, wrote a book to commemorate the 100th year of their synagogue. She sent me a copy. Maybe I would like to visit Greensboro.

 

kurt-book

Next: Read something.

Established in 1908 by prominent members of the then small Jewish community, Temple Emmanuel has always been known as a Temple of Involvement. The names Sternberger and Cone not only appear in the boxes of papers in the temple archives, but are visible on public buildings throughout Greensboro.

img-location-moses_cone_801x200

 

 

From its inception the congregation of Temple Emanuel was active in all aspects of the community: immigrant aid, women’s rights, schools, housing for workers, YMCA’s and the textile industry. https://www.tegreensboro.org/who-we-are/our-history

Small world:

Temple Emanuel is now home to more than 500 families, day school, and supports numerous community programs. Upon the completion of its new synagogue, the members of Temple Emanuel decided to retain the historic Greene Street synagogue.

te1924

 http://www.greensboro.com/jewish-temple-to-keep-greene-street-building-temple-emanuel-soon/article_178bd6f5-0158-553f-8987-54f48674659d.html

 

te-new

 

 

This year, the kitchen is being renovated. And a hallway art gallery installed.

 

Next: Advocate something.sign

The streets in the Maryland town where I live are named for famous Quakers – Farquhar, Benedum,  Shepherd. (And William Henry Rinehart – sculptor but that’s another story.)pipe-creek

Since 2001, (pending invasions of Afghanistan/Iraq), on Sundays, I have sat in silence with members of the Pipe Creek Society of Friends (Quaker) community. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Creek_Friends_Meetinghouse

Greensboro, North Carolina was settled by Native Americans, Scots-Irish, African Americans and Germans. Some of the earliest settlers were Quaker immigrants from Maryland.guilford

At the turn of the century, Quakers harbored the southern-most point of the Underground Railroad in the woods surrounding the present-day Guilford College.

Guilford is known for its unique curriculum. The 2100 students there can choose majors like Peace and Conflict Studies and Community and Justice Studies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilford_College

In response to her need to “do something” about the current refugee crisis, Diva Abdo, Associate Professor of English at Guilford founded the ‘Every campus a refuge’ program. http://www.everycampusarefuge.org

Inspired by the Pope’s call on every parish to host one refugee family, guided by its Quaker tradition, and animated by the Arab-Islamic word for campus (حرم) which means “sanctuary.”  Every Campus a Refuge calls on every college and university around the world to host one refugee family on their campus grounds and to assist them in resettlement.

Thus far, Guilford College has hosted a Ugandan and two Syrian families on its campus grounds.
hege-library

Small world:

Jane Fernandes, current President of Guilford College, was the Provost in 2000 at Gallaudet University. I graduated from Gallaudet and taught at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School. Gallaudet College is the only liberal arts college for the deaf. Yes, I know sign language. https://www.ourstate.com/guilford-college-president-jane-fernandes-finds-her-voice/

 

Next: Weave Something

While writing a review of Welcoming the Stranger for the International Sculpture Center Sculpture Magazine, B. Amore, my mentor and founder of the Carving Studio, https://carvingstudio.org asked:

What are you going to do with the exhibit next?

http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag16/may_16/may16_reviews.shtml

While visiting the Guilford College campus, I met with Theresa Hammond, Founding Director and Curator of the Guilford College Art Gallery. We talked – a lot. About – Quakers, Art, Welcoming the Stranger….and we made a plan to do somethingtheresa

It seemed to be a perfect confluence of events: synagogue kitchen, Guilford ‘every campus a refuge’ project and the Fabric of Freedom theme of the upcoming Folklife festival. So I returned to my studio and  started sending emails, making phone calls and contacting potential partners to find a way to bring Welcoming the Stranger to Greensboro.

 

Small world:

North Carolina Folklife Festival – Fabric of Freedom September 10, 11 2016

In 2014, the City of Greensboro passed a resolution declaring itself a welcoming city – “one that affirms the beauty and richness of our diversity, and one in which all are welcomed, accepted and appreciated.http://www.unitingnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Welcoming-Greensboro-Report.pdf

This year’s theme is Fabric of Freedom. The festival is a series of arts programs that celebrate the diversity and cultural history of Greensboro, host city for the National Folk Festival (2015-2017). Exhibits, music, dance, community events, and more will be presented in venues across the city throughout September. https://nationalfolkfestival.com/fabric-of-freedom/

On September 10 and 11, I will be at the North Carolina Folklife Festival to create ‘journey loom’ weavings. Participants at the #weavethetent events will work together to add panels to Abraham’s tent.

The community weavings will be included in the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit at Guilford College Art Gallery, opening September 14 and continuing to October 30, 2016.

Temple Emanuel will also partner with Guilford to exhibit Sarah’s Generosity in conjunction with the renovation of the Greene Street kitchen.

Next: Sing Somethingmoose

 On the 19 hour drive from Maine to North Carolina in a very packed rental van, while my Installation Team that consists of my kayak coach/tent rigger/performance artist and overall good guy who is willing to carry lots of heavy stuff but drives with ear buds listening to a book – my brain was taken over by ‘ear worms.” earbudsActually one particular ear worm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earworm

In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 and prior to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney commissioned song writers Robert and Richard Sherman to create one song that could be translated into different languages as part of its exhibit for the US exhibit hall.

I may not be going to Disney world but I am going to Greensboro AND as this exhibit takes shape, with the help of so many organizations and volunteers, I realize once again,

It’s a small world after all….

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Small_World

 

It’s a world of laughter

A world of tears

It’s a world of hope

A world of fears

There’s so much that we share

that it’s time we’re aware

it’s a small world after all…

Follow the progress of the installation of Abraham’s Tent at Guilford College and events at the North Carolina Folklife Festival and Fabric of Freedom:

Instagram: #weavethetent

susan-tent

Susan Andre preparing display table.

Facebook:         Welcoming the Stranger Art

 

gregg-tent

Gregg Bolton working on booth installation.

ras-ripping

Guilford RA’s ripping fabric with which to weave on the Journey Looms.

line-at-tent

Line to weave the tent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

overall-ncff

#weave the tent at the North Carolina Folk Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next?

Every year since 1987, Super Bowl MVP winners are asked in a commercial:

What are you going to do next?

They always respond with great exuberance:Disney

I’m going to Disney World.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_going_to_Disney_World!

At the closing of the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit – a 2-year community-based art project – everyone asked me:

What are you going to do next?

I replied:

Recover.

Recover

  • return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength
  • recuperate, get better, convalesce, regain one’s strength, get stronger, get back on one’s feet 

In October, the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit closed.

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/04/exhibition-at-maine-jewish-museum-examines-portland-immigration-then-and-now/

In November, my Mom died. **

In December, I returned to Maryland. firehousesnow

In January, ‘snowzilla’ led to a decision to paint the firehouse walls.01 snow

In February, I fell.

Scaffolding

I fell 12’ from scaffolding.

I broke my ankle.

Foot

 

In’ valid

  • Latin in (not) + validus (strong) = weak
  • Suffering from disease or disability

 

 

I live in one of the least accessible places you can imagine. There are 17 steps from my front door to my living space. There are 3 more steps to the kitchen; 7 more to the bedroom in the loft. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1272771?preview

I would be bed-ridden with my leg elevated above my heart for 6 weeks. I would spend most of my time establishing my own version of the intricate systems I had created for my Mom when she broke her hip.

I used a computer chair with wheels to transfer in and out of bed. I set up an “ accessible” kitchen. I borrowed a mini fridge into which multiple Tupperware containers appeared daily. (The empties eventually made their way back to their original owners.)Tupperware

I devised a job chart (remember I was a 1st grade teacher) listing a variety of tasks – laundry, transport, library, dishes, boredom reduction. Friends signed up for a shift. I will be forever grateful for their continuous support.

I would eventually go to Physical Therapy twice a week for several months.

I slept – a lot.

I watched Netflix – a lot.

I celebrated my birthday – not so much.

I did not make art.

Inva’lid

  • Being without foundation or force in fact, truth or force

There is a legacy of making art while bed ridden.

http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/art-2/artists-bed/

Renior continued to paint while suffering from rheumatoid arthritis so crippling that his son applied the paint to the brush and placed it in Renoir’s hand. http://www.openculture.com/2012/07/astonishing_film_of_arthritic_impressionist_painter_pierre-auguste_renoir_1915.html

Kahlo in bedFrida Kahlo spent 9 months in bed after an accident in which her bus collided with a trolley car. She suffered a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. During her confinement, she created a series of works referencing her accident and recovery. Kahlo art

Henri Matisse turned to cut outs when a chronic illness made painting too difficult. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/carving-into-color-matisses-stunning-cut-outs/

foto_cutoutThe cut out was not a renunciation of painting and sculpture: he called it “painting with scissors.” Matisse said, “Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.” Moreover, experimentation with cut-outs offered Matisse innumerable opportunities to fashion a new, aesthetically pleasing environment: http://www.henri-matisse.net/cut_outs.html

When a young Henri Matisse asked Renoir why he kept painting [ in chronic pain], Renoir is said to have replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

Learn

My hat

If you are not making art,  are you still an artist?

I had spent the greater part of 2 years creating the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit. And now, I was spending most of the day staring at the walls, re-arranging my pillows and planning for the next action I would take – retrieving an object, transferring to the chair, brushing my teeth. I allowed myself 2 hours a day to be depressed.

I do not make art.

I learn.

I learn how long a bone takes to heal.

I learn how to depend on friends.

I learn how to be humble.

I learn how to be patient.

I learn how to be grateful.

I learn that chicken soup is not just a Jewish thing.

Recover

  • find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost).
  • retrieve, regain (possession of), get back, recoup, reclaim, repossess, redeem, recuperate, find (again), track down 

My art career started with the death of my Dad. In his last few months of life, he encouraged us to live our dreams – – and not wait. He had hoped to spend his retirement painting. He died at age 61.

My return to Maine and Peaks Island was to sculpt a granite memorial on the 20th anniversary of his death and to film a documentary of the process. https://vimeo.com/29998120

My mother visited my exhibit just before she died. She wove on the Journey Loom, wrote comments on the chalkboard, viewed the aprons and Abraham’s  tent. As a result of many falls and several broken bones, she was confined to a walker. Our visit to the Maine Jewish Museum two years before had led to the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit.

The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths and 43% of those are from ladders. After my friends elicit a promise that I will never climb scaffolding again, they then ask:

What are you going to do next?

Just to recover physically will not be enough. I need to reclaim my life – my artist life. I need to learn to walk again on the stone path. I am not sure about what that will require, but I know one thing for sure:

I know, I’m not going to Disney World!

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso

 

**Caroline Borofski Israelson

Community activist and long time Munjoy Hill resident.

In the 1960’s when the East End Beach was closed due to pollution, Munjoy Hill (PTA) mothers marched on City Hall demanding a swimming pool be provided for their children. Leading the march was Caroline Israelson.

Caroline Israelson passed away, November 22, 2015. She was born on March 20, 1929 the daughter of Joseph Borofski and Elizabeth (Levinsky) Borofski.

An ardent Democrat, her first foray into the world of politics and community activism was when she wrote to President Roosevelt requesting a photo with his signature. In support of the war effort, she joined others of her generation and collected scrap metal for recycling.

Caroline bequeathed a ‘Legacy of Values’ to her children. She lived by two principles:

Tikkun Olam – a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or ‘mend the world.’

and

The Golden Rule to treat others fairly and respectfully no matter race, religion, sexual orientation (or during the 1960’s, length of hair.)

A lifetime resident of Munjoy Hill, she adhered to an ‘open door’ policy at her Moody St. home. Anyone in need of food, shelter, coffee, conversation or counseling was welcomed at her table – day or night – whether the dishes were done or the floors washed or the laundry put away.

Throughout her life, she continued to serve the community. As an organizer and advocate – politically and socially – she sought to improve the lives of those less fortunate. She was one of the first members of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP and attended the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfasts.

She was also a member of the Anti- Defamation League, Hadassah, B’Nai Brith, National Council of Jewish Women, Etz Chaim and Bet Ha’am Synagogues.

Caroline volunteered at St. Paul’s Soup kitchen and served on the board of Serenity House. She worked with young children as a volunteer for Head Start and as a mentor at the Juvenile Youth Detention Center.

As a Notary Pubic, Justice of the Peace, Caroline performed many marriages in her Moody St. living room.

At the People Regional Opportunity Program (PROP) she worked to keep youth safe by improving recreation opportunities, advocated for affordable safe housing, and food access.

She never lived more than a mile from the corner of Moody and Munjoy Streets. After her move to Bayview Apartments, she remained political – participating in resident meetings, registering voters and monitoring at polling stations. Although her bid for a seat on the City Council ( ‘Go with Experience” ) was unsuccessful, her mentorship and endorsement was sought by first timers seeking elected office.

A tireless campaigner, she supported efforts to elect the first African American President. She had hoped to witness the election of a woman President and reminds everyone to vote in 2016.

Until her health declined in recent years, Caroline (wearing one of her colorful bandanas) was a familiar figure to East End residents . Her daily walk along the Eastern Promenade culminated in a cup of coffee – regular, cream, 2 sugars and donut – at the Hilltop Café. On her return loop, there were brief stops to pet a cat or two along the way. She continued her neighborhood forays even using a walker.

She became a die hard Red Sox fan while attending Red Sox games at Fenway when dating her husband, Leon. They saw Ted Williams play.

Caroline was sure if she were the manager, she could make them win the World Series and finally got her wish in 2003 with the arrival of Pedro, Manny and Pappi.

Known for her sense of humor as well as her sense of adventure – including a solo trip to Australia at the age of 60 – she took bus trips throughout New England with Anne Jordan and other friends….

She never stopped learning and growing. She was an early adopter of yoga and reflexology and practitioner of (TM) meditation. As a Member of Codependents Anonymous, Caroline believed in the healing power of counseling. She was often asked by neighbors to include prayers for a job or health during her Shabbat candle lighting ritual.

Caroline made her home wherever she lived. In declining health, she accepted her move to Southridge Assisted Living in Biddeford with both grace and grumbling. There she became a beloved member of that community – staff and residents alike.

She treated everyone with respect and valued her friends as much as family. Caroline cherished her life-long friend Margaret Carter that she met in kindergarten.

She was one of the first participants in a study of the use of Lithium for Bi-polar disorder. Founding member of the Polar Bears –that offered support to many individuals suffering from bi-polar disorder and depression.

Pre-deceased by her husband Leon of almost 40 years and her sister Sylvia Glantz, she will be missed by her family and friends especially the Margaret and Robert Carter Family.

Family: Jo Israelson, Union Bridge Maryland, Katherine Scott of Palo Alto California, Lynne Israelson Mason and husband David of Newburyport Mass, Michael Israelson and his wife Norma of Westbrook, Maine. Her grand children, Christine Henry, New York City, Emily and Elizabeth Scott of Palo Alto CA, Rachael Israelson and Michael Israelson of Westbrook and her nephews and nieces Joseph Glantz of Bridgton, Faith Glantz and Sasha Morelli of Portland.

Service to be held Tuesday November 24 at Congregation Bet Ha’am, 81 Westbrook St. South Portland, Maine 10:30 am followed by interment Temple Beth El cemetery, Portland 04103.

Temple Beth El Memorial Park

Following the interment, A Celebration of Caroline’s Life and luncheon will be held at Bet Ha’am beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m. All are welcome. Please bring a canned food item to be donated to local food banks in her name.

Tuesday evening from 6 pm – 8 pm, friends are encouraged to come with stories and stay for coffee at Becky’s Diner, Commercial St. Just say you are a “Friend of Caroline’s “.

In honor of Caroline’s unique fashion sense, the wearing of bandanas and/or Red Sox regalia is encouraged.

In lieu of flowers and cards, donations can be made to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org , Portland Chapter of the NAACP or the charity of your choice.

 

– ING Part 3 (b)

2nd Law of Thermodynanics – Law of Entropy

aka Murphy’s Law

In particular, Murphy’s Law is often cited as a form of the second law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy) because both are predicting a tendency to a more disorganized state.

It is impossible to delineate all the tasks that need to be accomplished in a multi-media installation nor to predict all the problems that will need to be addressed. To-do lists and post-its are often inadequate. So for the most critical of needs, my hand becomes a bulletin board.

IMG_2305

In her one-woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily Tomlin portrays a homeless woman who was once an executive and leads her life via the post-its attached to her clothing. http://www.amazon.com/Search-Signs-Intelligent-Life-Universe/dp/B001O9CFCC

Count-ING Down

Murphy Challenge #1: Weather

Temperatures would be in the upper 80’s during the entire installation. (Maine in September!! Who knew?)

The Maine Jewish Museum is not air-conditioned.

TEN: Prepping Walls

Maine Hardware is the go-to place for most Peaks Islanders. http://mainehardware.com The employees are knowledgeable AND they provide FREE popcorn.

IMG_3233

Ladders, tarps, paint, coffee, blue tape, levels, sand paper, spackle, scrapers, coffee, buckets, paint trays, rubber gloves, coffee… a seemingly endless list but the multiple trips enable us to replenish, not only supplies, but popcorn. (Which is important if, in addition to the coffee and donuts, it becomes another source of nutrition during the 10-day installation.)

NINE: Painting Walls

Etz Chaim sealEtz Chaim synagogue was built in 1921.  After several incarnations and years of disuse, it was restored and became the Maine Jewish Museum. http://mainejewishmuseum.org The 1920’s construction and previous renovations meant locating studs was an ongoing struggle.

Murphy Challenge #2: Construction

The spackling, sanding and painting of the museum gallery walls took place the same week that construction began on the new bathrooms …There were moments of dueling drills and lurching ladders but we were able to share the space as well as extension cords – and of course, the donuts.IMG_2897

 IMG_2899EIGHT: Stenciling walls

Working around the daily operations of the museum, as well as respecting religious tenets, resulted in a type of shift work. The key to progress was FLEXIBILITY. (And a willingness to ‘couch surf’ after missing the last ferry.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CouchSurfing

While attempting to wrestle a Journey Loom through a door way that was a smidgeon too small…. I noticed a helmet clad bicyclist chalking arrows on the road.

IMG_2905Noticing my plight, she helped maneuver the loom into the building. A painter in her own right, Ebyn Moss volunteers – at arts centers, community organizations and non profits. She is a Board member of the Hour Exchange. http://www.hourexchangeportland.org and lives her life adhering to its tenets.IMG_2925

The settling of the foundation of the building during the past 94 years created uneven walls. There was a 1” drop over 50’ making it difficult to determine level. Ebyn was undaunted. She had worked for MacKenzie Childs. Doing what? Stenciling. http://www.mackenzie-childs.com

(Another beshart moment – Bookmark this link https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2014/05/ for more beshart moments.

IMG_2921The word begat is sometimes interpreted as ‘to bring forth.” The stenciled ‘walls’ of Abraham’s tent are intended to remind us that we are all part of the same ‘family.’ http://www.enterthebible.org/blog.aspx?post=2646

Over 3 days, Ebyn stencilled the word ‘begat’ 2000+ times.

Murphy Challenge #3: Colliding Events

Stenciling the word begat on 2 – 50’ x 10’ walls while beautifully appointed young women and their families attend a previously scheduled Bat Mitzvah proved to be challenging – but not insurmountable. And, the work on the new bathrooms continued…

SEVEN: Engaging Press

For years, artists just sent their press releases to the local newspaper. They would include the 5 – W’s and a few photos. Today, vying for the attention of the press requires more than just notifying the newspaper. There are free papers, community papers, magazines, and social media to notify and continually update. Maintaining a presence in the public eye requires time and energy – both in short supply when installing a multi media exhibit.

Sometimes it is a matter of timing. For weeks prior to the exhibit opening, the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants occupied local, national and world news. Amidst the spackling, sanding, stenciling, Press Herald and Portland Magazine reporters appeared with their photographers for an interview and pictures of the exhibit. (And some of my closest photographer friends did the same.)

IMG_2967

Murphy Challenge # 4: No there there

We had ‘begats.’ There was no tent; there was no carpet; there were no community weavings. The exhibit was still in process – I had words and ideas but was STILL short on visible objects.

It is easier to talk on the radio where words and ideas ARE the medium. WMPG is a community radio station that broadcasts from a small house located on the campus of the University of Southern Maine (my alma mater.)IMG_2280

I arrived paint spattered, harried and sleep deprived. Chris White is the host of Tuesday Night Talk Radio Club. His interview framed Welcoming the Stranger within the context of the Portland community and the New Mainers. Articulating the thought and history behind my vision clarified for me – and hopefully the listeners – my hopes for the exhibition.

http://media.usm.maine.edu/~wmpg/archivefiles/Toosday/TNTRC_150901.mp3

SIX: Creating QRs

For each aspect of the exhibit, there is a sound collage. I combined real life interviews with scripted histories, sound effects, ambient noise, and music to create a kind of sound track — but without pictures.

The sounds of children practicing Hebrew formed the basis of the sound collage for Abraham’s Tent. Laura Boenisch is the principal and director of B’nai Portland, an Independent Hebrew School. With a degree in music education, Laura taught herself to chant Torah tropes so that she could help prepare her son for Bar Mitzvah. https://www.facebook.com/bnai.portland/info?tab=page_info.

We met in the Sanctuary. When I attended synagogue as a young girl, I was excluded from the first floor and relegated to the balcony. Standing at the bimah, Laura chanted the story of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bema.

 

FIVE:             Supporting History

I almost missed the meeting…I flew out of the Museum covered in paint. In a packed hearing room in Portland’s City Hall, I raised my hand to testify in support of the designation of India Street as a historic district:

(In my neighborhood…) there were those fortunate enough to have grandparents or great aunts and uncles to tell stories of how their families ended up in Portland, Maine.

There might have been photos of family members posed in of local stores and houses and churches and synagogues. There may have been photos taken on holidays, family events – graduations, weddings, funerals. You could take a walk. around the India St. neighborhood – past the old synagogues, St Peter’s, Micucci’s, Amato’s, Abysinnian Church http://www.abyme.org, and North School – and experience history as seen through their eyes and the architecture that was still in existence.

Map 1914

And for those not so fortunate, the buildings, businesses, streets must remain. It is easier to imagine when waves of immigrants settled in what is comparable to the lower East Side of NYC when you can walk by historic structures that greeted those new arrivals. …when you can walk from the docks, along India Street, and experience the immigrant history of Portland.

In that moment, I was focused on immigrants of the past and how their story mirrored the underpinnings of my exhibit. http://portlandlandmarks.org/blog/event/a-neighborhood-in-transition-immigration-and-the-india-street-neighborhood/

FOUR: Retrieving the ‘Carpet’

A 50’ x 8’ ‘Persian carpet’ made of roofing rubber and stenciled with images of seaweed and compass roses requires a 50’ floor on which to design, paint and polyurethane. This 200+ lb. piece of art needs a space in which to reside until delivered to the museum. The Colby College Art Department  https://www.colby.edu provided a space in which to work until the carpet was completed. (The room measured only 40’ long so requiring continuous rolling, folding, unrolling.)

IMG_2767The maintenance staff monitored my progress and occasionally conducted a critique. They were mostly favorable. (Although they did wonder why the room smelled like the ocean. It was the bucket of seaweed I was using to make stencils.  I commuted back and forth to Waterville applying the final coat of polyurethane the night before the pick up.IMG_2957

Murphy Challenge #5: Elevator

The rolled carpet was too long to fit in the elevator. 200+ lbs. is very heavy. Two of us could not heft it. We tried. Several times. I set out to find some students. There were none to be found. I returned to find the maintenance women carrying the rolled carpet down 2 flights of stairs to the delivery truck. (I hope you are both reading this. Thank you, again.)

THREE: Installing the Tent

A year ago, the tent installation team designed a hanging system based on an idea in my head. The actual production and installation proved to be more challenging.IMG_2783

Murphy Challenge #6: No Tentmaker

Although I had received donated yarns, collaborated with volunteer spinners, and engaged citizen weavers, there were only 275 square feet of woven tent panels. The weaving was spearheaded by Jane Herbert https://www.facebook.com/Westbrook-Fiberarts-411482502345348/     However, I needed 500 square feet. (Not to mention, that I had no idea how to make an actual tent.)

IMG_2659At the final Journey Loom weaving event,  I met Melodi Hackett. A weaver in her own right, she wove and warped looms throughout the 2 day event. and then she asked:

What kind of help do you still need?

I need a tent maker.

With a straight face, Melodi responded: I make tents. She had worked as an exhibit tent designer. (Yes – another beshart moment. I told you to bookmark that page.)

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A week before the installation, the tent makers began production. Measure, cut, serge, sew. Measure, cut, serge, sew.

Melodie at machine
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When I started kayak lessons 4 years ago, I did not ask my instructor if his mother was a weaver and if he knew the difference between warp and weft. As it turned out, the answer to both questions was ‘Yes.” (I know, I know – beshart.)

IMG_2840I envisioned the ‘tent’ as an ocean – ‘mirroring the movement of waves.’ And Gregg Bolton https://gbolton.smugmug.com was able to translate my idiosyncratic aesthetic into a physical reality. After 12+ hours of balancing on ladders and planks, occasional invectives (mine not his) and of course, donuts, the tent was installed.IMG_2931

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TWO: Installing the Journey Loom Weavings

Respite from the heat came as a result of hanging the community weavings in the air conditioned Community Room. IMG_2909

No Murphy Here. –

Well, OK. Murphy took up residence in this room for 8 weeks. Every time a community group needed to use the room for a meeting, Murphy re-arranged the furniture.IMG_3236 IMG_3235

 

 

 

 

ONE:             Hanging Aprons

Seven women, seven aprons, seven tallit bags,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallit seven genealogies and a series of invented postcards that highlight their efforts on behalf of the immigrants of the 1920’s comprised Sarah’s GenerosityIMG_9697

Carefully arranged and meticulously measured, the aprons were installed outside the Sanctuary.IMG_9710

 

 

ZERO:

  • Set up reception
  • Set out guestbook
  • Create Artist Binder
  • Fold 250 brochures
  • Find somewhere to shower
  • Comb hair
  • Set up sound system
  • Check toilet paper in bathrooms
  • Prepare Artist Talk
  • Hope people come (They did. More than 150 at the opening. 100 at First Friday. And more.)

Murphy Challenge #7Seriously Hot

Neither Velcro nor double-sided tape adheres to plaster walls when the temperature exceeds 85.

  • Re – hang Aprons !!! Use nails.

Where’s the Cab?IMG_2769

 My ad hoc interviews with a taxi driver from Burundi and an Iraqi prisoner-of-war were intertwined with the story of Bela Gross read by a recent Russian asylum seeker and recorded for play back on the sound system of a Crown Vic cab donated by ASAP Cab. http://www.asaptaxi.net IMG_2988

Exhibit attenders would sit in the cab and listen to their stories. Upon ‘arrival,”they received a receipt with links to the current immigration, asylum, refugee laws and stats.

 

Exhibit – ING

 September 3 – October 25, 2015.

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/04/exhibition-at-maine-jewish-museum-examines-portland-immigration-then-and-now/

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ER

Abraham’s Tent, Sarah’s Generosity, Habeas Corpus QRs are posted on:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz7MUQKodiZXQUb7tcog17A

 

Connect – ING

Community Events were held during the month of October. IMG_3104

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Weaving Workshop – Cheryl Holbert

 

 

Color of CommunityIMG_3142

Reading and Book Signing – I’m New Here http://www.annesibleyobrien.comIMG_3160

IMG_3180World Music – Casco Bay Tummlers http://www.cascobaytummlers.com and Burundi Batimbo Beats

 

 

 

‘When Jews were New Mainers’ symposium with Colby CollegeIMG_3211IMG_3202

 

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Clos-ING

14 days to install; 7 to remove. I realize the world only took 6 days and there was a day of rest at the end – but the resting will have to wait.

For now, there will be tear-filled goodbyes, sanding, spackling and painting, crating and storing of the exhibit, more tear-filled goodbyes and then a 14 hour drive back to Maryland.

There is no way to know if this exhibit will have any lasting impact within the community. But as I prepare to leave, the following editorial appeared written by Arthur Fink: A Real Community Has No Strangers

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/20/maine-voices-a-real-community-has-no-stranger/

….Do see this exhibit, ask how we welcome strangers (or don’t) and let yourself be transformed…

 ..I left the exhibit asking myself, “Who are our ‘strangers’ today? And how can we welcome them with grace, acceptance, dignity and genuine openness?”

…We can open our hearts, connect with those who may appear to be “different” and forge a more inclusive, caring and compassionate community. I hope and pray that we will!

 

PS from Murphy:IMG_3237

The bathrooms are finally done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-ING Part 3 (a)

1st Law of Motion – Law of Inertia

Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

There’s no stopping us now… Supremes

Weav – ING

I thought continuously changing designs and altering plans were endemic only to site-specific installation artists.

However, writers change their story lines, musicians re-write their compositions, dancers revise their choreography; the second mark on a canvas may change the trajectory of the work and a crack in the stone releases a new image.

Eighteen months ago, I proposed the Welcoming the Stranger exhibition. Based on the mandate in the Quran, the Bible, and the Torah to ‘welcome the stranger’ – the exhibit would compare the treatment of immigrants of the 1920’s in Portland, Maine with that of “New Mainers” today.  There would be 3 components of the show: Abraham’s Tent, Sarah’s Generosity, Habeas Corpus.

The community would participate in a dialogue about immigration – past and present. The form of that community involvement was still to be determined*.

Twelve months passed in which I conducted research into the lives of the National Council of Women who assisted immigrants arriving in the 1920’s at the House Island Quarantine and Immigration station.

I initiated the campaign to prevent the development of House Island. The City of Portland designated House Island, the “Ellis Island of the North,” as an historic district. The remaining structures from the quarantine and immigration station would be retained. http://www.pressherald.com/2015/01/05/portland-council-grants-protection-for-historic-house-island/

Six months ago, I arrived in the city of my birth – a stranger – and was welcomed and supported and encouraged by the city of today. Creating community involvement – with organizations, religious institutions, schools, artists, individuals, and businesses – became the focus of my work for 3 months.

IMG_2573Anyone and everyone can weave – over and under, under and over.

(Think paper placemats in school or potholders at camp.)IMG_2523

I loaded and unloaded the Journey Loom onto my truck, attached a banner to the tailgate, and set up weavings throughout the city.
Using donated fabric, “citizen weavers” at First Friday Art Walks, World Refugee Day, Portland High School, The Children’s Museum, Levey Day School, Anderson Street Mosque, Tandem Coffee, Running With Scissors, Peaks Island, Root Cellar, Kennedy Park, Trinity Episcopal church and others created weavings.
2 girls

IMG_2872At each event, participants recorded ideas of how to ‘welcome a stranger.’ Their responses were posted on the welcoming the stranger art Facebook page and served as a way to continue the dialogue.

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The Journey Loom weavings – created a powerful visual symbol that captured the underlying theme of weaving together a community – a city – a country – a world. They became the 4th component of the exhibit.IMG_2659
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Journey – ING

Simultaneously, the panels for Abraham’s Tent were being woven on traditional looms using donated and hand spun yarn from around the country. Donations arrived from Ravelry.com readers.IMG_2225 The PortFiber Thursday spinning group spun, warped, wove.  http://portfiber.com IMG_2292

Between weaving events, planning with community groups, materials collection, and ‘commuting’ via the ferry from Peaks Island, I created the remaining components of the installation:

At Running with Scissors: artist studios and community http://www.rwsartstudios.com

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My studio space was headquarters for the project, storage for the looms and materials, apron design and genealogy research lab. I used RWS woodworking tools and the biggest light table I had ever seen for creating stencils. Kate Anker, founder, was the go to person for everything art. The resident artists provided their expertise, words of encouragement – and of course, coffee.

At Gathering of Stitches: A Making Space for Fiber and Textile People

http://agatheringofstitches.com

Samantha Hoyt Lindgren created a maker space for fiber and textile artists. You can rent a full time studio, attend classes and workshops, or arrange for time on the various machines.IMG_2801

Samantha is the most flexible person I know. I popped in weekly to revise the calendar. She would calmly erase the blocked out dates and write in the next. Eventually, we didn’t even bother writing in a date. She assured me there would be a space and place when needed.

At MECA: Maine College of Art http://www.meca.edu/

Elizabeth Jabar and I appeared on a panel at the Migrations Conference sponsored by Colby College in April. http://web.colby.edu/mainemigrations/ She is the Associate Professor of Printmaking and Foundation at MECA.IMG_2778

Her work is socially conscious and frequently community based. http://www.Futuremothers.org. Over coffee, I admitted I was terrified to print for the following reason:

I had never done ANY print making. (OK. Potato printing with my first graders.) http://www.marthastewart.com/1004012/potato-printing-craft

Elizabeth offered her studio and her expertise. On the hottest, most humid day of the summer, we mixed ink colors, printed test strips and practiced a paper lithography transfer process using gum Arabic, reversed photocopies of the 1924 map of Portland and lots of patience.IMG_2776

I now know I couldn’t be a printmaker; too many variables to analyze when it doesn’t come out the way you hoped.

 

 

At the “The Nest:” Peaks IslandIMG_0402

I have a small studio space in a boathouse called ” The Nest.”  At night, I researched Hebrew and Muslim prayers, adhesives, immigration law, transport companies, photographers, inks. I wrote scripts for audio collages, listened to hours of sound effects, conducted interviews, and produced recordings.

I photocopied and photocopied; signage; labels; brochures, letters, images.

And, I continued to meet with anyone and everyone who wanted to ‘welcome the stranger.’

Install-ING

Within the whirling dervish of my life, the underlying theme behind Welcoming the Stranger remained constant: To tell the story of the House Island Quarantine and Immigration station, the role of the National Council of Jewish Women, create an Abraham’s tent and compare the present day treatment of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees to their welcome in the 1920’s.

The Welcoming the Stranger exhibit requires a 10-day installation. (A day defined as 14+ hours.) Lack of funding means relying on the generous spirit and labor of friends and volunteers. Everyone would be paid in donuts, lots and lots of coffee and heart felt appreciation.IMG_2930

And, naturally, ‘Murphy’ would make an appearance in ways I could never have predicted.

 

http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html

 

*Welcoming the Stranger (WTS): building understanding through community based art is a forum for community and arts related organizations to explore the theme of immigration, belonging and “building bridges” of appreciation and understanding with people of all backgrounds. 

 Goals include:

 To promote a sense of commonality among diverse communities;

 To provide forums to discuss how the historic issues surrounding immigration are reflected in a contemporary context;

 To honor the contributions that diverse groups of immigrants provide to the American experience.