Hello and Happy New Year to Everyone,
It’s January 24th and I’m still deep into the “Wintering” mode. Lots of reflection and looking inward and thinking about how to go forward in 2022. I’m on Day 44 of my 69th Journey around the Sun, and that in and of itself feels pretty sobering. Not wanting to ever use the “O” word, (she says with a smile on her lips) …. I am nevertheless thinking about my mortality, and the time I have left on the Planet… and what I still want to accomplish… (Oh these deep reflective winter days).
My Spirit tends always towards Optimism and towards feeling my way through these deep thoughtful moments by going into Art Therapy. I am compelled to create and maybe that’s what OCD means for me…’Ongoing Creative Doing’. In the winter I am confined to my Visioning Studio (aka the sewing room) and my Mixed Media Lab (aka the bead studio). And so, my focus for these winter months is to work on cloth projects and mixed media projects. Which brings me to the reason I am writing this blog.
I have come to several conclusions in the last few months, the biggest being, that I am taking some time off from teaching out of my studio here in Montana, for the time being. I am not an on-line teacher nor do I desire to spend my time traveling the rocky road of technology to become one. Time is so dear to me and I’m determined to spend it doing the things that bring me joy. And that Joy is currently wrapped up in producing a whole new body of work.
I have changed my website to reflect my desire to once again distill everything down to its essence. I am no longer an “Art to Wear” artist. I have traveled that path for the whole of my creative life (40 years) and I’m happy to say “I’m over it” ……. BUT, my love affair with CLOTH will never diminish, and I am still very compelled to create my PSP (Personal Spirit Protection) Shawls. I have just moved into another way of looking at everything, being more authentic with the land that I live on, and am delighting in the much slower process of a “living color” journey of growing and using plants that color the cloth I make.
In the last 2 years I have developed a profound creative love affair with paper. It’s not a new medium for me (I worked in Paper conservation through much of the 90’s and into the early 2000’s).
While in Hawaii I took several paper making and indigo dyeing workshops, but textiles for the body had its firm grasp on my heart, so paper was never my first priority…. until now.
I am experimenting with 2 and 3-dimensional paper work as well as collaging on canvas and canvas boards. Botanical printing of watercolor paper, Korean Hanji, Japanese Unyru and Lokta papers has been a magical experience. I also discovered I had 5 oz. of Konnyaku powder from the paper conservator at the Bishop Museum from 30 years ago. So, I began to explore the use of konnyaku and the technique of Momigami, which translates to ‘kneaded paper’. I realized we treated our Indigo dyed papers with Konnyaku (before dying to impart wet strength) in the workshop from Temari 30 years ago. (I still have those papers) …. My paper journey continues to unfold in the most magical of ways.
Part 3 of this new Journey involves mixed media. Which is not a new medium for me either. Before I left the Islands in 1999, I created several recycled art pieces for a show. I have always gravitated towards the idea of taking throw away objects and turning them into something of value, by creating ‘artifacts’ that give a sense of place and meaning.
For the last 2 years I have been compelled to collect branches from the different bushes that grow at the bottom of our dirt road. Red Osier Dogwood had grabbed my attention early on, because in the winter it stands out as a deep red leafless bush, and I had to have some of it. I had no idea why I was compelled to collect sticks, but collect them I did.
Then in early November of 2021 I had the strong desire to try “bundling” the sticks together with some of my old Japanese Calligraphy papers. After fiddling with 3 sticks for a bit, they finally “fell” together in a way that felt right and after playing with them and the paper for several hours, the “vision keepers” were born…. I am both amazed and delighted to bring forth these powerful objects. It feels like I have been preparing the way for them in the last 2 years.
Upon reflection, keeping our visions is tantamount to surviving these wild and crazy times. It is important to believe and trust in what we are doing creatively, especially when it is authentic action from the heart.
I will begin to put my new work for sale on my website: www.melissaarnoldtextiles.com sometime before Valentine’s Day. An appropriate time I think to honor the gifts of the heart.
Thank you all so much for being such a big part of my creative journey.
May this new year bring new blessings for all of us,
Monika Astara says
Melissa, this is so beautiful! Whatever you touch – it turns into striking pieces of art. Looking at your pieces brings such joy and wonder. Thank you! Monika