Friday, January 22, 2021

Stitching to hold fast

There was one day the other week when I got only wonderful things in the mail. No circulars, junk, bills, or other people's mail. Books from a past student, a printed cheetah card from an artist friend, and the first square of a collaborative sewing that I'm doing with friends—along with cattail heads from a pond near the Finger Lakes.
I have been on edge forever, for so many reasons, but mostly because of the red tape nightmare that has defined my Fulbright grant. When I sat down to sew over my pieced square, it hurt my arm/shoulder like crazy but was extremely soothing as I waited and waited and waited for the consulate in Chicago to process my paperwork (which felt more like them not processing it, asking me to repeat the work, and then demanding other people in my family repeat the work, and then a lot of calls back and forth to try to get them to put pieces of paper together to complete the puzzle, which is hard when the people on the other side never pick up the phone).
The process has limped along so I am close to flight confirmation, giving me less than two weeks until departure. It's insane to think that I got notice about winning this grant in Feb 2020, but for many unfathomable reasons was not able to know that I could actually go almost Feb 2021. On top of that, there are still many complicated dances to perform because of the panorama, like very specific Covid-19 testing in a very specific window prior to boarding, quarantine of a particular type, and so on. The sewing keeps me from falling apart even if it tears up my muscles. And soon I'll go for a walk in the sun even though the ground is icy because I want to enjoy the outdoors before I no longer have the option to go outside.

But on a cheerier note, this interview with Gaelynn Lea gave me excellent perspective on navigating life and now. Her reminders that each able bodied person can (and will) become a disabled person are so helpful as I have been diving deep into physical therapy to address old issues that I want to pay attention to before I leave. Much of my quarantine will involve PT exercises!

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Making arrangements

My dear wonderful grad school prof shared this Jenny Holzer quote with me and it felt like a good harbinger of the new year. This week has provided reasons to think it will be a harder go than we hoped, and makes me want to leave the country as soon as I can. Visa still in process, but today I'll begin making a Korea pile. If I had a big enough basket, it would be a Korea basket.

Velma shared with me a wonderful video about Navajo weavers. Almost done with my sewing as escapism and next week will begin a return to the world. And I almost forgot: my show is almost over, closing next Sat (Jan 16), but you can look at pictures here.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Marking time incessantly

For my first holiday away from family (because I chose against travel to NY and instead had my first traditional Jewish xmas complete with Chinese takeout), I made do with a tiny hanji tree. I used the gift wrap for the gwi jumeoni kit that Youngmin sent, which is exactly the right color hanji, adorned with bits of beads and sequins originally purchased to shore up my paper brick wall.
After listening to a panel critique my work, followed by a helpful conversation with an artist friend, I have been thinking a lot about my place in the world on all scales, as a human on the planet to a papermaker in the tiny but growing paper world. Maybe this is simply the time in my life when I'd naturally pause to consider what I have been doing and how I want to change in big and small ways. During this pandemic-long pause, I've discarded a lot of "work" and become a survival chipmunk, jumping from one thing to the next, using hand activity as a salve for immediate feelings of doom. Most projects involve using up scraps. This is one.

This is another. After over a month of eating at 2-hour intervals, I'm trying to wean myself off of emotional and disordered eating and instead sewing like a maniac. Mostly I see that being in a double limbo of panorama + Fulbright = not being able to focus on anything because people keep falling ill and dying and the research grant I had worked so hard for could dissolve. The latter is slowly winding its way to some kind of resolution, but still leaves me with no real dates to prepare for, which enhances chipmunk brain. Tidbits from that scattered mess:

Apply for isolation in the desert!

Consider more nuanced ways of approaching anti-racism as part of a "minority"—ways that make ending racism a reality rather than something we have to live with forever

Watch a 2016 video of my hanji teacher and a V&A conservator

Mostly, be as kind as you can to yourself. My method today was to order chocolate oatmeal cookies online for outdoor pickup. Stay safe as we welcome the new year!