Memories of Lives Past – Art Week

Art Week continues officially for a few more long days of walking and viewing, walking and talking, walking and resting with a sip or two. Constant Companion and I are also saving our energy to see some of the art opportunities that will close after December 4 and the rush of the week.

In the meantime, where have we spent our time in the past two days and what have we seen? Curiously, a number of the artworks that crossed our paths have sparked memories of lives past.

Untitled: Ocean view with Rachel Garrard sculpture, Pathways Beyond Time

At Untitled, located in an oversized tent right on the beach, several artists and their works stood out. Sanaa Gateja’s large scale works constructed of very small conical paper beads took my breath away for their intricacy as well and the material used.

Gateja, a multimedia artist from Uganda who studied in the UK, is credited for bringing this craft to his home country in 1990 and teaching it to women as a means for them to becoming self-supporting (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/725750).

Since high school, I’ve played with jewelry making, for fun. Actually, in college I sold several of pieces at the “hippy shit” shop near campus. Some years ago, I acquired good number of lovely paper beads that came from Uganda. I paired them respectively with Chinese jade beads brought by a traveling friend and with coral beads and handmade glass beads I’d brought while in Namibia for a museum conference. One of our stops was Penduka, a training center for women (https://www.penduka.com/en/).

Several other works of art at the fair spoke to me. One was the untitled piece created by French-Cuban artist, Hessie (https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/hessie/). Her work infrequently incorporated buttons, like this one.

Some years ago, when a crafting bug caught hold of me, I mined the bag of old buttons I have from my seamstress and saver mother. This hamsa is a result of that creative moment.

For many years, as a lover of textiles, I’ve collected doilies and antimacassers (those embroidered, crocheted cloths people put on the back of upholstered chairs to prevent men’s hair gooey product, known as macassar, from staining the chair).

British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové (https://www.debuckgallery.com/artist/zak-ove/) repurposes these small knitted, crocheted, tatted textiles into constructions with hopes that they will find a place in someone’s home.

I’m thinking … when and if life settles down a bit I’d like to pull out my doily collection and combine it with the buttons to play creatively.

Long ago, in college, part of my degree was textiles. Another fair visitor and I were recalling the wonder of sitting behind a loom and watching a piece of fabric emerge from the warp and weft. I also played around with macramé, another so-called “hippy shit” craft in the 70s’ it’s gaining popularity again. I did not, however, make any plant hangers. Reading around about this fiber art, I had found references to sailors at sea for many long months making knotworks. One technique that they perfected was made with vertical and horizontal half hitch knots. I made two pieces, one with hand-dyed thick Aunt Lydia’s yarn (stored somewhere in our home).

The other used to construct a small purse was made with fine wool fingering thread. Imagine how I felt during the end of semester critique when the visiting expert roundly pronounced that my piece to be woven. He could not fathom that it was knotted.

The beautiful halfhitch knots in the work by Aurèlia Muñoz (https://www.aureliamunoz.cat/) at Art Basel brought my mind my modest efforts. Her work, of course, goes on beyond whatever I created.

Of course, lots more art work stood out to me and we have several more days to go.

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