Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Kuumba Birthday New Year's Ramblings

Last night I was feeling a tad bit sad at the prospects of growing a year older...really came on as a result of thinking about grief I've experienced over decisions made by my children and wondering what we could have done differently.  Two years ago I tried to pour all that grief into a quilt which I named Prayers of The Mother.  I found myself marking time by my hopes and prayers for them.  I appliqued ankhs on it to represent life giving and sustaining faith, hash marks to measure time, the eyes of my 3 children to convey vision and 3 Ethiopian crosses to mark an ancient faith and prayers by millions of mothers from the beginning of civilization. 

This morning, yeah, this morning hope and fun arrived to greet me and life is what it is and I'm thrilled to be here and apart of it!  Can I get an amen?!  It has always tickled me that my birthday falls on the day of Kuumba, the day to reflect on Creativity:

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

The first half of '09 saw me exercising this principle in my small way in The Basement Workshop. My process of making art was alive and even through the detours I could see myself moving closer to the expression of my head and heart and becoming more soulful.  The flood did refocus my energies away from actually making quilts but out of it I gained a 2nd studio space and have fallen in love with machine needle felting.  All good, all good...but its time.  In spite of this season showing up my physical limitatons, I'm not willing to just sit and wait it out til spring. 

This is my plan. starting Monday...I'm going to re-introduce discipline to my approach.  A return to treating some of my time as if I'm taking college courses.  I've selected 5 books, each representing a class, and I'm going to work through them by assigning them a day or days of the week.  I've selected:

1. Finding Your Own Visual Language (Dunnewold, Benn, Morgan) M,W

2. Freetyle Machine Embroidery (Shinn) Tu

3. Image Transfer Workhop (McElroy, Wilson) W

4. Mindful Meandering (Fritz) Th

5. I'd Rather Be in the Studio (Stansfield) (gonna give it another go) W, F

I will create a new journal to track samples and studies and will also write accountability into Seamless Skin as I go.  My semester, of sorts, begins this coming Monday.  Not all my time on the assigned days will be devoted to the books, but approximately 1-2 hours and then another 1-2 hours of on at least 3 of the days while its cold to whatever I'm drawn to do.

The other topic I've found myself thinking about is John James Audubon, yes, that Audubon.  I've been invited to create a quilt commemorating him/his work.  Two trains of thought...the first one after reading about him, I became intrigued about his mother...Audubon was born in what is now Haiti to a properous plantation owner.  His birth mother gave birth to 2 children fathered by the plantation owner...John James  was the oldest and a girl who is also not given much mention. 

His birth mother died or was killed (depending on which article you read) after an African slave revolt.  His mother's name was Jeanne Rabine. (Jean was also John James' first name prior to being baptised and taken in by the wife of his father).  She is referred to as a French servant, Creole servant, French Creole servant...racially mixed. mulatto, etc.  One article I read speculated that she more than likely came from Louisiana (prior to the territory becoming part of the U.S.A) and was a French-African Creole.  Very few of the articles even mention her by name but give a respectable documentation of his father.  Audubon ended up in the U.S. and a land owner by way of his father's direction in keeping him out of Napolean's military even in spite of his status as an officer. 

Wondering more about his mother, Jeanne Rabine, I thought this would make a beautiful piece of fiction...not beautiful as in sanguine, okay?!  But in a way to give a voice to the voiceless, beautiful in a way to write this particular woman back in history, into the dialogue. 

A few months ago when I was at Penny Sisto's playing with the way she creates images, a headless female figure came to me (you can see it a few post down...its the one I lost and never that a riff on invisibility?!)  I wondered if it was Audubon's mother coming through.

The other train of thought I had for the upcoming exhibit was to do something with Crows.  I hope to neve forget the NPR story some months ago about Crow research finding out that Crows can recognize human faces and can communicate to other Crows about their pissivity with a person who affronts them, and will continue to harrass that person, and are not easily fooled if that said person tries to disguise themselves.  LOVE IT!!!! 

This is my Happy Kuumba Birthday New Year's always Peace,





  1. yes, good thoughts, peace. peace.

  2. Happy birthday and Happy thoughts! What an amazing post, so full of things to ponder and look up. Enjoy the coming year! I look forward to seeing where Audubon and crows take you!

  3. Karoda, one of the things I'm grateful for is your blog. I love reading your thoughtful posts and hope we will meet during the coming year, somewhere along the line.
    Happy Birthday, Happy Kumba, and wishes for only good things in 2010 for you.

  4. I have been in love with Crows for more than two decades now - they are rigorously devoted to their community and combined as well as singular intelligence. Your plan for the winter sounds like a great way to stay in balance. I have a similar aspiration although it's coming from a somewhat different direction...

  5. Amen! Let me get that out of the way!! I come away from so many of your posts, pondering deep thoughts with you. I look forward to seeing where this year takes you, creatively. Happy birthday, Kumba and New Year.

  6. As is so often the case, I am late, late, LATE to the party. :-/ Happy Birthday, Kumba and New Year!
    I loved this post and can't wait to see how this year progresses for you....and me. I say me because you so often add so much food for thought for me, and then I end up following along behind you, doing/practicing as you do!
    Take care of yourself Darlin' and have a great 2010!

  7. Everyone's comments are appreciated and encouraging. I'm going to lean on them to help distract from the frigid temps outside.