Uncovering: Circles

The circumference (from Latin circumferens, meaning “carrying around”) is the perimeter of a circle .

The circumference of a circle is related to one of the most important mathematical constants. This constantpi, is represented by the Greek letter π.

pi….an ideal that in numerical terms can be approached, but never reached.

March 14:

My residency at the Vermont Studio Center ended abruptly. The Governor of the State of Vermont declared a state of emergency and began closing schools, bars, restaurants in hopes of containing the virus. I had been in a news-free bubble during my residency so was unaware of the severity nor the rapid spread of the virus. I packed up my installation Aletheia: state of not being hidden and headed home. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/a-different-line/

01Aleteia

Warned by many friends to expect empty shelves at Maryland grocery stores, I stopped along the way for toilet paper.

March 15:

I self – quarantined. I had spent several weeks with artists from other states and countries and had crossed several state borders (and Canada.)  My decision coincided with Maryland’s first stay at home order:

…Leave only for essential work or critical health care – doctors , food shopping, walk yourself or walk the dog. Schools will remain closed. Work from home if you can. Wear masks. Wash your hands.

March 30:

Governor Hogan of Maryland extended his initial shut down/stay at home order:

“We are all going to need to depend on each other, to look out for each other and to take care of each other. We are all in this together,” Hogan said.

Drawing the Circle

Friends shopped for me and deposited bags of dried beans, rice, lentils, oatmeal, corn meal at my door. Yeast and flour. Fruit and veggies. Cleaning products. One brownie mix. And of course, more toilet paper.

I made cloth masks for friends and families. Using fabric from quilters’ stashes.

masks

 

Just 2 weeks prior,  I had used my 100 year old Singer sewing machine to create an art installation  It might have been used during the 1918 pandemic. Maybe even to sew masks.

Sewing machine

 

In 1918, advanced masks like the N95s that healthcare workers use today were a long way off. Surgical masks were made of gauze, and many people’s flu masks were made of gauze too. Red Cross volunteers made and distributed many of these, and newspapers carried instructions for those who may want to make a mask for themselves or donate some to the troops. Still, not everyone used the standard surgical design or material.

 https://www.history.com/news/1918-spanish-flu-mask-wearing-resistance#:~:text=Masks%20Were%20Made%20of%20Gauze,the%20pandemic%20flu%20in%201918.&text=Red%20Cross%20volunteers%20made%20and,donate%20some%20to%20the%20troops.

Coffee – its consumption and creation – has featured prominently in many of my past blogs.  This time it wasn’t the coffee, but the plastic coffee bag closure used to re-seal the bag.

Tin ties

I collected them from anyone I knew that brewed their own cup o’ Joe in order to create fitted nose pieces.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MSyjcbr90E

I talked, texted or emailed daily with others – like myself – who live alone.

A Smaller Circumference

There are 28 stairs from my sleeping loft to my studio shower. It has been ‘strongly suggested’ by friends and family (in response to a fall and broken ankle that my next artwork should be to create a shower in the loft. This would necessitate moving the washer and dryer to a location TBD.

Building a shower where the washing machine had been seemed like a fairly straight forward project. There was existing plumbing, drainage and venting.

I am an inveterate watcher of This Old House https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ and revere Richard Trethewey – the plumber – enough so to research his introductory quote:

it is a typical plumber’s lament…”220px-MarioNSMBUDeluxe

A Plumber’s Lament is the name of a piece of art created by Garro of Nimbus Land for the kingdom’s queen Valentina during the events of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The gold-colored statue is a depiction of a plumber.

There are hundreds of internet sites devoted to Mario if you have time to research  – but I had work to do.

After watching innumerable you-tube videos, I determined which tasks were within my skill set. Next,  I called the plumber to handle the remainder (Naturally, it included re-routing the existing pipes, drains, vents, etc. )

Before leaving for the art residency I had demo’ed the old wall board and replaced it with durarock (resistant to water); applied leveling material (due to the uneven durarock installation ) and was  ready to tile.Durarock

The walls for the new laundry room and closet (the first and only closet at the firehouse) were framed in.

Then I headed to Vermont. Then I returned from Vermont. Then I continued the renovation. Fortunately, I had already purchased the materials for each project from the Loading Dock http://www.loadingdock.org/

The Loading Dock, Inc. (TLD), a building materials reuse facility, offers great deals and interesting finds to people who need inexpensive building materials and are interested in keeping materials out of the waste stream. TLD serves as a national model for communities interested in starting a reuse facility.

It is rooms and rooms of everything and I mean everything – needed for construction and renovations and just plain old cool stuff.

TLD_Warehouse

Because I was in quarantine, if I didn’t have it, I improvised often. (Although a neighbor did deliver some drywall screws I had run out of. It was the opposite of curbside pick-up – more like doorway drop off.)

At the end of each day, I walk to the town Wetlands Park – now 20 years old. The trees are full grown, native plants have taken root and milkweed proliferates to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

images

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-01-20-1997020032-story.html

I wear my mask – but when no one else is in the park – I remove it. I revel in the ability to take a deep breath – unencumbered.

I walk on 4 foot wide paths mowed an additional foot on each side to create a 6 foot distance. I perfect the ‘swerve” to avoid unmasked walkers. I learn the names of dogs whose owners I had never seen at the park before. And encourage tottering young bicyclists.

As I installed the final tile in the bathroom and hung up the last article of clothing in the closet, the Governor issued another 2 week extension of the stay at home order.

2 more weeks of being alone

2 more weeks of relying on friends

2 more weeks of finding ways to fill the day with meaning.

Creating a Circle of Care

Comfort_PRINT_CircleCare-1

I graduated from high school the same year Sesame Street was first broadcast.  When I became a first grade teacher, I often relied on materials and concepts developed by the producers of Sesame Street.

There is an activity that asks children to complete a worksheet called ‘Circle of Care. ‘ The goal is to reassure kids that they are never alone. There are always people who will be there to help you.

 “The Circle of Care is like a giant hug.”

https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/activities/exploring-kids-circle-care/

As the pandemic restrictions continued, friends offered me gift cards or brought me food as part of their weekly shopping forays. One friend offered me their stipend check since they were still employed. I was deeply touched by their offers of kindness.

I am included in their ‘circle of care.’

My Circle of Care

PC Marker

I don’t know if it’s part of aging but I have grown comfortable with silence.

Maybe I realized that I would rather sit in silence than attend a traditional house of worship.

Maybe the Quaker belief in non-violence and community led me to attend.

Maybe my increasing comfort in silence led me to Quaker Meeting or maybe attending Quaker Meeting led me to silence.

Maybe it’s not about silence but about ‘seeking that of God in everyone.”

The Pipe Creek Friends Meeting was established in 1772. Its doors have remained open since its inception.

At one time, there were only 2 attenders. They met in their living room because they couldn’t afford to heat the meeting house. Yet, they did not “lay the meeting down.”

In the 1970’s,  possibly in response to the Vietnam War and civil unrest or (according to Pipe Creek oral history) because the outhouse was replaced with indoor plumbing, the number of attendees increased. When I started to attend in 2001 there were less than 10 members. As the U.S. contemplated entering another war in 2003, more ‘seekers’ entered our doors. https://thestonepath.wordpress.com/2016/09/

Throughout the pandemic, I am ‘led’ to open the Meeting House doors on Sundays. It is a 10 minute walk from my studio. I sit silently while other members – out of an abundance of caution – ‘zoom.’  Like Quakers throughout the country.

https://whyy.org/articles/in-the-age-of-social-distancing-quakers-have-quickly-adapted-to-online-worship/

Expanding My Circle of Care

 When stay-at-home orders were first announced, radio commentators remarked that 2 kinds of people would welcome the order: artists and writers.

Artists and writers have always had to guard their time. They need to turn inward to create characters or plot lines or images. They may need time for research or just what a friend calls ‘dreamtime.’  Time is a precious commodity during ‘normal times.’ But this is the ‘new normal.’ For many, time spreads out like a vast ocean.

vast sea

Many of us have time now but are plagued by a heavy heart.

As a community based artist I need community input, collective knowledge and skills to complete a work.

My first community based art project in 1994 in Carroll County: Seeds of Change focused on rural hunger through the lens of women’s spirituality. We grew buckwheat to make flour, distributed it to food pantries and sponsored Pancake Breakfasts through local volunteer fire departments to highlight the existence of rural hunger.IMG_1678

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1994-03-04-1994063038-story.html 1994.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1994/09/12/reaping-what-shes-sown/91ca5ff6-3d66-4ffa-bb8b-e1946adf476b/

Twenty- five years later,  food insecurity has continued to grow throughout the country. The increasing unemployment in the pandemic have worsened the crisis.

https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/facing-shortages-rising-demand-food-banks-may-turn-to-rationing

ubseal

The population of the Town of Union Bridge Maryland is 964 and  encompasses 1 square mile. Settled by Quakers, Union Bridge began as a farming community. Food production is no longer the major source of employment.  The median income is lower than surrounding cities. According to the 2010 census – 394 households were counted and 34% had children under the age of 18.

When the locally owned and operated grocery store closed in 2008, it not only deprived local teens their first job opportunity but ushered in the term: food desert.

To help meet the food needs of families in town, members of St. James Lutheran Church joined with Dream Big Union Bridge to create a Food Pantry.  Pipe Creek Quaker Meeting provides fresh vegetables raised in the community garden.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/opinion/cc-op-nonprofit-dream-big-union-bridge-20180802-story.html

PC garden

Almost 30,000,000 school aged children qualify for free/reduced price lunches.

https://www.mdhungersolutions.org/pdf/maryland-school-breakfast-report-card-2017.pdf

Throughout the school year, 45% of students receive breakfast and lunch. Closing schools for vacations, snow, and now a pandemic – leaves many children hungry.

With the help of a town council member, we were able to create a local feeding site  for curbside pick-up of breakfast/lunch. As the quarantine continues, the line of cars increases.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll/top/cc-meal-delivery-20200417-4my22vxnlbhkfebxs2qsgmggfm-story.html

In other towns, residents are converting their Little Free Library into Covid 19 pantries. http://www.littlefreepantry.org

Photograph+of+Bishopthorpe+Little+Free+Library_Little+Free+Pantry

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/little-libraries-become-food-pantries-during-covid-19

May 6: Schools closed for the remainder of the year.

Extending My Circle of Care

Spring-Paper-Roll-Crafts-43Making “virtual” art is a challenge. I have a weekly craft hour with a five year old via Facetime. Fortunately, she is more skilled with how to use the technology than I am – and has more patience with it.

I decided to create ‘Take and Make’ bags for the neighborhood school-aged children. I scoured my studio for supplies, solicited toilet paper tubes from everyone, scrounged crayons, tape, scissors, coffee filters. I included directions for projects and links for more ideas. I wore gloves to assemble the materials into individual brown paper bags. Out of an abundance of caution: All materials sat for a week in my studio. They were distributed at the Food Bank.

Governor Hogan was right. We are all in this together

Going in Circles

I struggled with the decision to make my annual trek to Maine. In 2007,  I returned to Peaks Island to create a memorial for my Dad.  https://vimeo.com/29998120 More recently to share in the care of my Mother before she died.

I have spent the summers creating with others – music, plays, gardens, art. Making the decision to drive to Maine was influenced by my commitment to write and produce a play to celebrate the Maine Bicentennial and raise monies for island scholarships.

Maine’s Governor Mills decided to institute strict restrictions to help stave off the spread of the virus.

https://wgme.com/news/coronavirus/maine-island-residents-work-together-to-keep-community-safe

There is a mandatory 2-week quarantine for out-of-staters upon arrival in Maine.

I weighed the risks, to not only myself, but to others in my Maine circle of care .

My friends were more concerned that during the 12 hour drive, rest stops would be closed. *

I was more concerned about missing the last ferry and having to spend the night sleeping in my car.

As I crossed the border from New Hampshire into Maine, I  read the sign:

Maine Welcome Home.

But will  home be the same?

image sign

https://www.mainepublic.org/post/maine-turnpike-signs-will-instruct-out-staters-self-isolate-if-they-come-maine

 

* My friends were correct – rest rooms and rest stops were closed necessitating detours into towns with ‘welcoming gas stations.”  The 10 hour drive extended to 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

poe-coffee

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.

01dovejo

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

 

_llf3520dsc_0115

 

00placing-in-pit

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.