Monday, October 11, 2010

shifu and healing

i went to visit wendy in toronto last week. also to attend a talk given by master shifu artist hiroko karuno. i took the train from brockville. i was gone only a few hours. in that time i experienced many amazing things.
the AGO. an amazing collection. reinvented with these wooden ribs that vault to the ceiling of the old structure. i was here in 1975 or thereabouts. then i looked at the henry more sculpture. now i look at the group of seven and some inuit work. and wendy took me to soma. serious chocolate. heaven. i had hot chocolate that was like a meal. 


wendy and i went to the japanese paper place to hear hiroko karuno talk about her work, about a special installation she did last spring, and see her demonstrate spinning (twisting) kozo for her shifu.
 straightening paper prior to cutting
 opening up the sheets after cutting
spun kozo
 spinning (twisting) kozo
 skeins of naturally dyed kozo
a sample of hiroko's shifu
hiroko concentrating, with a smile
we got to know hiroko and her wonderful husband riding home together. the spinning wheel had pride of place in the front passenger seat. so funny because as any spinner knows, the spinning wheel takes as much space as it needs to! people can squish together, wooden spinning wheels do not!
you may remember this tapestry. it now is used by the children that wendy golden-levitt works with. this girl used my tapestry as a part of her sand table healing work.
 do you see her treasure? i am sheltering her. this young girl is anorexic, eight years old, and she almost died. 
she told me she doesn't need to look pretty anymore. "now i try to just look." i love that! wendy transcribes the children's messages to the artists whose textiles wendy uses in her work and places them in a special cairn on a table in the studio. when i read notes from s. or p. i am so moved. and i learn from them, too. 
and the velma book is still being used, it has place keepers in it, a stick, textiles. can't really be transported in it's current enlarged state, but once the children remove them, it will be movable. some work with it has been done by first nations elders and children. then it travels with wendy to the place she works with these wonderful people. i feel often like these pages that i made, these plants that became paper have much strength for people. more than i ever thought possible!

this trip was surprisingly centered around two other things, unexpected things. one was a deepening friendship with wendy, another was healing from an unsettling taxi experience. i came home with new ideas, hopes and dreams, friendship, taxi-induced headache, some books...and a sense of having been through a threshold. or a fibershed.

17 comments:

ger said...

A very enjoyable + uplifting travel report... - Wendy purchased a cloth creature from me for her work a while back, hope it´s as ingeniously used as your tapestry...

Bonnie said...

We are blessed to be blessings to others, and in return they bless us too. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience.

Cait Throop said...

phew...the spinning, the skeins, the ribs and the healings...all magical, Velma!

kaite said...

so much to take in, on so many levels...k.

Velma said...

i have been overflowing! trying to focus on little details, remembering each.

T said...

what a special day, the ribs of that gallery are just incredible, and the paper making is so intricate. I will have to google kozo, and now know that it is beautiful fine unbleached mulberry bark paper, or I think it is.

adding the hot chocolate and wendy's wonderful work with the child using your woven art as a shelter in healing play , and that beautiful book just made my head spin. what a special day velma. thanks for this wonderful post.

xt

neki desu said...

starting with that amazing building and then proceeding to all the rest. like stations in a voyage.great day. a place for every sense and emotion.

Virginia said...

deep breath. long sigh. thank you.

Velma said...

so you see why it took me a bit to frame this short trip? it was huge, intricate, perfect. and full of love.

onesmallstitch said...

thank you for sharing the marvellous pictures of Hiroko-san at work and her work. It is remarkable. That children find a place of healing in your work must be deeply satisfying.

Deb G said...

Just got back from a trip too...the best trips make us grow I think. Love the wooden ribs.

Velma said...

i am amazed at the work wendy does with children and textiles...and my book, as well.

Judy Martin said...

Wow, Velma.
Everything you showed in this post was so lovely and true.
The AGO is wonderful now that not only has it been re-structured, it has a new intent with the display that is much more fair to women and to the first nations.

I loved seeing the thread being made and am blown away by that - thank you so much.

And the Velma book - remember the feelings that you have about your own work now that you've seen how important it is to others. keep them safe and ready.

love
Judy

jude said...

the paper says so much on its own, doesn't it? a book of dreams.

Susan Johnson said...

I'm understanding a little more about shifu. Nice pictures, Velma, and the little tapestry is a treasure

Velma said...

judy, thank you. i need to remember. and i will.

jude, one placekeeper in it was yours.

susan, you weave "awesome" with paper yourself! i was amazed that the tapestry was so used.

Margaret Braun said...

Beauty lies within! Thank you for being so revealing.

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