I'm working on three pieces simultaneously these days, part of an experiment to see whether projects worked in tandem can cross-fertilize one another.
I have a preliminary hypothesis on that. I'll get to it in a minute.
Working on the three pieces has had me diving into some mysteries, like the eeriness of an unresolved chord, the majesty of a nebula, and the enigma of a gnarled figure crouching in the crotch of a tree. Here's where I am on these three challenging images.
Unresolved Chord. One of the three projects is Unresolved Chord, which I've just finished quilting:
This is a visual image of an unresolved chord, the term used to describe a piece of music that gives the impression that it hasn’t ended
properly, that leaves a conflict unresolved. or lacks a sense of closure.
Are there four blocks here or five?
What key are we in?
Unresolved Chord is for Jazz Tones, the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective's upcoming show, which will hang in Hartford's Pearl Street Gallery this summer from June 15 to August 23. Check it out: https://letsgoarts.org/gallery
Wild Thing. The second of the three projects I'm working on involves this image, a woody thing growing in the crotch of a tree by a watercourse called Trout Brook, a few blocks from my home:
In my last blog entry I described the process of making a tree bark-like background for this piece on pima cotton:
The mystery here surrounds the nature of this creature: is it friendly? Wise? Strange? Aggressive? Malevolent? I'm going to show it as an enigma.
A Love Supreme.
The third of my three projects asks: If the concept of A Love Supreme were to take on visual form, what would it be?
That paradox is flowing like snowmelt through my mind these days. If I can find a visual way to convey this idea, I'll not only have created a piece for Jazz Tones, but I'll also be honoring jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.
Coltrane composed A Love Supreme on the heels of a religious experience in 1957, during which he acknowledged his dependency on drugs and alcohol and their effect on his creativity and creative output. So, as the story goes, he quit both cold turkey...solo. A Love Supreme issued from that abyss, and some folks think that it is a nod to the concept of a higher power, so important to the workings of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step groups. Word has it that Coltrane quit on his own, but whether or not he went to AA, he was a very spiritual man.
In his own liner notes to A Love Supreme, Coltrane says,
"During the year 1957, I experienced, through the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD. [...]
"At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT...IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY--A LOVE SUPREME--."
That's pretty powerful stuff, and I want to find a way to reify it for Jazz Tones. I now have at least three ideas in my mind, one of which is also in production. This one:
I made this tie-dye piece with my daughter Lucia one day a couple of summers ago. The spiral on this piece of tie-dyed pima cotton puts me in mind of a whirling nebula in all its cosmic majesty and mystery.
I quilted it with silver metallic thread and thought about what to do next. Then I remembered some beads I bought at a tag sale.
At the moment, I'm applying them in routes that follow the spirals of the tie-dye. The beads are tiny and the needle is very fine.
What's it like to work with these materials?
When three projects are worked on simultaneously, do they cross-fertilize one another? No. These three projects are too different from one another. I don't see any cross-fertilization going on. Of course, I can't say what happens when I leave the room.
But...working on three simultaneously does keep the chi flowing because I don't have a chance to get sick of any one of them. I move back and forth between and among them and they all stay vital.