Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lost, But not Forgotten

Two years ago while preparing for an exhibit titled The Left Behind at Fountain Street Fine Arts in Framingham, I was putting together an installation titled Forget-Me-Not. I measured all of my students with pieces of string color-coded by their grade level. These strings were weighted down with a little ceramic tags that was also color-coded and had their initials on it. I tried to paint one side of each string white, representing the great lengths one goes through to make sure students all learn the same curriculum. Unfortunately, this is often at the expense of the students' own creativity and expression. Needless to say this method isn't always best. I intended for the piece to have one side that would be mostly white and another side full of color, showing how society pulls the color right out of these creative children and we have to work against that just to keep it there, let alone foster and develop these skills. This installation was successful, but it did not go exactly as planned, just like in the real world, children do not always listen. This isn't always a bad thing. The installation was more colorful than I intended and that was a good thing...

A detail of the installation

Forget-Me-Not at Fountain Street Fine Art, July 2015

At the opening reception

Recently I watched this animated video that works off of the same themes as the installation above. I need to warn you, it made me cry... http://www.boredpanda.com/award-winning-film-society-saps-creativity-alike/

Following the exhibition, I hung this piece back in my studio so that the strings would not get tangled. Recently, I took them down and cut off the ceramic tags.

I placed them into a class jar which certainly was not half empty....if anything it was too full. Too full has been one of the main challenges I had to deal with as an educator. There is always more, but nothing ever gets taken away, instead things just pile up and there simply isn't room for everything anymore...

People have their own ways of dealing with this issue, what was best for me, may not be best for someone else, but I decided after 16 years of service as an educator, to make room for other things.

Sure, that has left me with a tangled mess of strings that once were all hanging in straight lines, but things need to get messy before they can come back together. Reminds me of a quote that I read "....and then I fell apart, and it was the most beautiful moment ever, because right then, I realized that I could put the pieces back together the way I wanted them to be." Building a new foundation, that comes from the parts and pieces of the things that happened before.... I started this piece titled Lost, But not Forgotten....

The first few minutes of Lost, But not Forgotten

This will be a timed piece that will be added to the installation in the Labor of Love exhibition on display now at Mill No. 5 in Lowell. Last Sunday I was there working on this piece in the exhbition space. There was loud elevator music playing from the speaker up on the wall that would get on anyone's nerves.... It was getting to me when a girl, that helps with the farmer's market downstairs, came upstairs to help. It turns out that the girl was once a student of mine! What are the odds of that? I was Emma Galante's art teacher for six years while she was at Bates Elementary school a long time ago and Emma had just recently been interested in weaving. What are the odds of that? It was meant to be. So happy the music was there, so I could reunite with Emma. I measured her height and she added to the piece. I look forward to weaving with her more in the future and I was so happy when she turned that music off!

I was also feeling the love from my fellow yogis in teacher training with me right now. They hear me talk about weaving and how to me, it connects to yoga and breath.  It was so nice for them to come and see the work in person and get the chance to add to this project. Each person who participated on Sunday, was measured with a piece of string and then they added their height into the piece.

Heather Brien weaving on a sunny Sunday morning in Lowell.
Heather weaving her height into the piece.
Ranjani Pinto weaving her height.

Ranjani's husband and her friends added tot he piece as well.
I completed this piece back home in my living room.  326 minutes of Lost, But not Forgotten will be added to the installation in the hallway at Mill No. 5 bringing the total number of minutes up to 4,425 minutes.