ss, dd *

Writing today in much the same USA as yesterday, last year, last century. Thinking about Philando Castile, Andrea Constand, Charleena Lyles, Nabra Hassanen and many many others while still wondering what will ever change.

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin

A friend also emphasized that we are expected to tamp down that rage to be polite and spare our countrymen of having to acknowledge our emotions. It’s true, though not sustainable. And that’s why I quilt…among other things.

Here’s some disjointed eye candy for ya. It’s a work-in-progress (machine quilting stitches by Pam Cole) that’s evolving in my head as we go. Had planned it to be more involved with some appliqué eventually, but it might just be a simple hand-quilted ditty for a wedding gift.

Stitchin' in full technicolor.

I’ve already started the alternate patchwork base to get back to the appliqué ideas. Will then need to reevaluate my obsession with overwrought handwork. We’ll see. That’s not an easy habit to break.

Lately I stitch in silence because there’s too much to think over, though I did enjoy the audiobook of Lincoln in the Bardo. Here’s some of the other media in my life in snippets.

  • This brief Jeff Koons documnetary. I have always found his work quirkily fascinating. Still not sure what to make of him.
  • These 51 NatGeo photos. They were 51 heart flutter for me. So astoundingly beautiful and inspiring.
  • This story about two-faced trifling bitches in the quilt world that made it to the BBC. I saw it going down in real time and now it’s nice to see it in the full light of day. More reason for head shakes and a call for culture change.
  • This quilter in Durham, NC documenting violent deaths. My new quilt hero and a true inspiration.
  • And Social Justice Sewing Academy, a nonprofit in the SF Bay Area run by a recent college grad, Sara Trail, who does workshops with high schoolers on social justice. Students then express themselves in fabric collages. They are powerful works. And she is seeking volunteers to help with embroidering the pieces down so she can then finish it all into quilts. Get involved.

That seems like enough for now. Have a good week!

* same shiz, different day

silent sunday: the one with small pieces

Mighty Small

Mighty Small

Mighty Small

Mighty Small

get woke

The revolution isn’t going to stitch itself. — May 2017

Sometime in Nov 2016, I dunno, around the 9th or so there was a sea-change for many Americans–at least half of the voters–who’d not had to own up to the imperfections of their nation, if they were even aware of them before. [And herein this is the right time to mention privilege, rather the panracial privilege to be blind to hatred and injustice towards others that allows for outcomes like what happened in the US presidential election of 2016. Full disclosure: I, myself, have some portions of this privilege due to my socio-economic and educational status, though I choose not to be blind and inactive at all times.] Some characterize this moment as a social awakening, that is folks are collectively getting woke, though I judge much of the learning so far to be short-sighted and shallow.

stitching the revolution

Just finished this quilt five days ago and already kinda regret the title. This writing is a rumination on what I thought I meant.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m heartened to see an uptick in activism among those who aren’t the usual suspects. But I don’t allow myself to hope that self-interested action will ever convert to on-going and transcendent social engagement. The day-to-day renewed outrage generated by governmental actions and scandal revelations will lead to fatigue and retreating into survival mode will result in a return to insular worldviews and conservation of energy to protect those who are close. It’s justifiable self-preservation, of course, and an instinct that is difficult to fight.

clipping in the ATL

In this swirl of my own judgment and personal terror, I needed a meditative project in which to embed my feelings and as a way to zone out from the immediate flurries of dread enough to contemplate the bigger picture. You can tell that I haven’t come to any complete or tidy conclusions, nor will I presume to offer any thoughts on what one ought to do differently. Although I reiterate a call for compassion. Without intending to invoke Dionne Warwick, it seems to me that–along with the desperate need for a lotta resistance and uprising–the world is suffering from a deficit of love and human kindness.

Particularly as frustration and anger mount, one must be mindful to maintain one’s humanity and that of everyone else.

Of course, it’s complicated.

sizing up

This project has traveled across the country, roosting in its own carry-on bag for months and emerging for construction on planes, in airports (mainly in the ATL), and in hotels. Public acts of making are political acts no matter the subject of the work, drawing audiences that sometimes bring conversations that are intimate, challenging, and heartwarming. I count the myriad strangers who approached me as co-creators in a way since I can identify the more touching moments in my stitches and cuts. You know, the flow was disturbed as I let people into my little world. It was a lovely contrast to the solitary pseudo-monastic environment in which I usually work, which made me further wonder about my intended message.

And not too many of my visitors took in the words slowly unveiling in my lap. Some revealed their political leanings, strangely self-indulgently assuming everyone agrees with them, and yet my silence in reply steered them back to telling me about their crafty cousin as they continued to reach out to find ways to connect. These were not moments for arguments nor for cynical agreements, I didn’t think; I wanted to savor the chance to learn more about them—to try to see their humanity.

i am not your negro

On Nov 9, 2016 I retreated into literature for comfort. Rereading this Maya Angelou poem and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time was at once empowering and devastating. Indeed, we have come a long way and yet we have so far to go to reach any semblance of equality. Recent documentary I Am Not Your Negro (trailer) uses archival video of Baldwin, MLK, and Malcolm X among others to trace bright lines from the landing of Plymouth Rock on us (to paraphrase) on through to the movement today for civil rights. Again, empowering and devastating.

I hang on Baldwin’s every word in his book and in the documentary, glorying in his eloquence and sympathizing with his exhaustion. In scene after scene of the film, he breaks it all down for his interviewers and interlocutors. [Set up in a “debate” with a (old white male) Yale philosophy professor who denies that race is a thing to take into account, he lets out a deep sigh and proceeds to school him. There’s a crooked clipped line in this quilt just from my delight in that moment in the film.]

up in its grill

And now looking all up in the grill of this quilt, I may have finally gotten around to my point. Get woke is not just about this moment in time in the US and the recent incitement, but rather it is about the broad and deep learning we should do to understand the roots of the marginalization of our fellow countrypeople. This would increase our empathy and compassion so that we may choose also to fight for their rights before, while, and after we fight for our own.

Get Woke

Read more…

the one where we could meet up. :)

Every damn day.

“In Tall Cotton,: Expressions of My Self” is a show featuring some of my quilts.  They will be on display over the Memorial Day Weekend at Lauren Kindle Studio: 7 N. Bank Street, Easton PA.  Opening reception will be Friday May 26, 6-8 pm, in conjunction with “Easton Fourth Friday.”  The Studio-Gallery will be open to the public 10-3 Saturday 27-Monday 29th.