Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Random thoughts

I'm so amazed by my friends. One friend mentioned Quilts of Valor, an organization that provides quilts for the soldiers who are returning wounded, so another just whipped up a quilt top. Just like that. Boom. And with the leftovers from that, she's doing another couple quilts for the Linus Project. And silly me, I wasn't sure that they'd be as enthusiastic about the next blanket. I already have squares on offer. Wow.

And that same friend who just sewed up a quilt top was interested in one of the hyperbolic crochet pieces I did, so I'm doing another. Wave forms in blue... it's gorgeous. This one, I think I'll get a picture of for my flickr page before handing it on.

It feels a little strange to document the pieces I'm doing. I wonder if it's that I'm used to a more ephemeral art - storytelling, that isn't easily captured. Even if I were filmed while storytelling, it's hard to capture the full experience. And, of course, the same is true of other art forms. A picture or even a print is hardly the same as standing in a room with one of Matisse's papercuts.

But one other thing that I wonder is if perhaps I am acting as other women have, minimizing the art of our hands. A doily is often presented as the ultimate fussy accessory - a useless thing that must be kept neat, primarily owned by fussy old women. And yet - look at one, sometime. I have pineapple stitched doilies that amaze me. There are cobwebby pieces so fine that you can barely see the threads. And elegantly simple pieces - linen battenburg lace comes to mind...

And yet, how often do we know anything about the skilled women who produced these incredible works of art? Especially if said woman was poor or a member of a minority?

In an earlier comment on the finished blanket, Peterson Toscano asked me whether I felt deity-like when I finished and saw what I had created. If it's really big, it can take me time to realize I've really actually finished. The blanket was one of those. I kept looking at it, wondering what else I should do, even as I *knew* I wouldn't be doing anything else. Finished. And yet...

For me, the moment when I feel deity-like is when I'm in the actual process of creation. I can do anything with this piece - where will it go? What will I do? Will I learn a new stitch, or throw a different inflection in my voice at that point? For this audience, should I tell this story or that one? Funny? Sad? A teaching story? In traditional style, or with lots of movement? Or perhaps I'm making a card...

One of the concepts that really called to me in Judaism is the idea of tikkun olam - building the world. The idea is that God is still creating the world, and that people were created to assist in the work of Creation. We are called to help bring just dealing to the world, to make it a better place to be. When I'm engaged in that act of creation, I feel like I'm a small part of the Act of Creation, not so much a deity myself as a partner in work.

The rabbis have a way of teaching the idea: the blessing over bread translates to "Blessed are You, Sovereign of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." Except that bread doesn't grow - wheat does, and then must be harvested, threshed, ground, mixed, allowed to rise, formed into loaves, and baked. By praising God for bringing forth bread, we are acknowleging our role as partners in the act of creation.

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Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

You write: "When I'm engaged in that act of creation, I feel like I'm a small part of the Act of Creation, not so much a deity myself as a partner in work."

Wow, that is lovely, just lovely. Thanks for answering my question.

3/01/2007 7:57 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

I wanted to answer your question right away, but the words weren't there yet, so I've actually sat with your question for a little bit, both to understand the question and to understand the answer, if that makes any sense.

I really do feel as though when I set out to create, I'm creating not only the work, but helping to create me, who I am. For me, art in whatever form is a form of testimony.

3/02/2007 5:21 AM  
Blogger the laughing gypsy said...

Awesome post! Even more amazing than the priviledge of co-creating the world, is that it's our responsibility as well as our delight to do so by engaging our particular passions to the fullest. God is so smart!

3/02/2007 5:13 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

You make me think, you know that? But in such a good way...

3/10/2007 5:34 PM  

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