In 2016, I participated in Kate Bridger’s Made on Monday project. Every Monday, from January through December, I made a small (5” x 5”) piece of two-dimensional art. The project provided the structure, discipline, and freedom that I needed to experiment with different stitching techniques while I stretched my muscles and began to look for my own artistic voice. (You can see the results of that year of stitching on my Made on Monday gallery page.)
Now, three years later, I have decided to take up once again the Made on Monday challenge. Again, the object is to produce that 5”-x-5” piece of work once a week (ideally on Monday!). But I’m changing my own self-imposed parameters a bit. Whereas in 2016 I wanted spontaneity—I didn’t put a lot of thought into each week’s piece until Monday morning—this time I want to have more of a plan. And, although the 2016 pieces certainly make a statement when viewed together (I’ve had the good fortune to be able to exhibit them together several times), there is no unifying theme or concept. This time around, I want the 52 separate pieces to be related, to be part, ultimately, of a single work with 52 components.
But what to choose? I’ve been auditioning ideas for the past couple of months: write and illustrate a haiku every week? Perhaps 52 views from my kitchen window, or 52 cups of coffee? I seriously considered choosing 52 lines from my parents’ books (my father and my mother were both children’s picture book authors) and interpreting them in stitch, but I have decided that that idea is better suited to a smaller (in number) but more involved (in size) project for another time. As Christmas rolled past and New Years loomed, I still hadn’t settled on a theme, and I was starting to worry I’d come up empty on the first Monday of 2019.
Then I remembered another piece I’ve had on the back burner. As you all well know, I have been making resistance artwork, and stitching daily Flags of Resistance, for nearly two years now. Though I feel compelled to make this work, it disturbs me that it is mostly angry, scared, upset, and reactive to whatever is the latest outrage coming out of Washington. Even when I’m not stitching THIS IS NOT NORMAL I am anxious and distressed; you’ll find me almost every night, as I’m cooking dinner and watching the PBS Newshour, gesturing wildly with a wooden spoon or spatula as I yell at the poor newscasters as they report on the day’s chaos and mess. To be honest, I truly feel that our current state of national affairs in all of its simplicity and complexity is detrimental to my mental health, and possibly my physical health as well. So some months back, I started thinking about making some work that is more positive and farther reaching, not just an anguished cry in response to today’s latest headline.
In short, I started thinking about peace.
I have been collecting phrases and ideas that define “peace”—be it one’s personal inner peace, or peace on a national/international/global scale. What does it mean? What are its attributes? I crowd-sourced ideas, asking on my Yarndance Facebook and personal pages for people to tell me what peace means to them (What does peace mean to you? Post a comment!). I transcribed these ideas and definitions into a notebook, and began planning a piece featuring a large mandala surrounded by stitched definitions of peace. But life and other work got in the way, and the work so far lives only in a few sketches and my mind’s eye.
About a week ago, I remembered my lengthy list of “Peace is…” definitions. And I had another idea. Rather than making the work I had been planning, what if I took one of those phrases or definitions each week and let it inspire a small embroidery? What if this year, for my Made on Monday project, I stitched 52 small meditations on peace?
And so, I plan to begin each week of this year concentrating on peace, thinking about peace as I stitch. At the end of the year, I will take these 52 small meditations and assemble them in some way—a quilt or wall hanging? Perhaps a series of stitched fabric books? But in the mean time, I will share them here, one at a time.
Yesterday, the first Monday of 2019, I stitched the first meditation: