Saturday, May 14, 2022

On Honours and Recognition


I don't do what I do for awards or honours.  I do what I do because it satisfies a deep need within me to explore, to answer the question "What if...?"

OTOH, it's always nice to be recognized by others.  I just never let it go to my head.  Because as quickly as someone can be held up, put on a pedestal, they can be knocked off of one, too.

Weaving is a constant dance with success and failure.  We think.  We dream.  We experiment.  We fail.  Sometimes repeatedly.  And once in a very rare while, we succeed.

When I submitted the above articles to Handwoven I had no idea they would choose my textiles for the cover of the magazine.  For a long time I was hoping to make it a 'hat trick' (maybe you have to be Canadian to get the reference), but it never happened.

And it's ok.  I don't need a third cover to hang on my wall.  

But some days?  Some days it's a nice reminder that I can do stuff.  And that some people have recognized that I can do stuff.

This morning someone posted a link to a New York Time Obituary.  Apparently they run a series on 'overlooked' people - people who made a contribution that they never did an obit for previously.  This time they did one for Junichi Arai, a textile genius.  A term I do not use lightly.  He was innovative, daring and not afraid to fail as he worked with unique fibres to create textiles in new ways, from new materials.

He was the juror for the Convergence 2002 yardage exhibit, sponsored by the Carnegie Institute (I think, memory may be faulty) and I decided I would enter a piece to see if I could get some feedback

The warp was silk, the weft a very fine rayon chenille.  2000 yards per pounds as I recall.  I knew it was subtle, woven in a fancy twill, and likely would not draw the eye because at a distance it would just look white.  A piece of white fabric hung in a gallery with white walls?  I knew it wouldn't look like very much from a distance.  But I was interested in Mr. Arai's response, not the casual viewer.

2002 was an extremely stressful and in many ways punishing time for me.  I had timed the publication of Magic in the Water so that I could take a booth at the conference and sell the book.  I had also begun buying and reselling yarns because I knew I couldn't afford the booth with the book alone.  I had also applied to teach and was accepted to do a one day workshop and several lectures.  Then I offered to do the informal fashion show, because I was 'young and had endless supplies of energy'.  (HA!)

So during the conference I was constantly on the go - teaching, scrambling to get to my booth to help my then studio assistant, preparing for the fashion show, running to see which ever exhibit I could get to, grab a bite of food, run, run, run.

On one of my dashes from the convention centre to the hotel one of the conference organizers stopped me in mid-dash to congratulate me - Mr. Arai had given my fabric second place.

Later I overheard a couple of people talking about the yardage exhibit, grousing because that white 'sheet' had gotten second place for goodness sake!

You get lifted up, then knocked down.

But I hadn't done the fabric for their opinion.  I had done it to see if Mr. Arai had an opinion.

I never met him.  But he had an enormous impact on me.  The weaver who thinks.  Dreams.  Experiments.  Dares to fail.  And sometimes succeeds.

A belated thank you to someone who all unknowingly made a lasting impact on this particular weaver, and many more, with his innovation and daring to dream.



Bette Nordberg said...

And thank YOU! I think I have a dream, plan and fail on the loom in my basement right this moment. I started thinking about it in November. I designed it. Dyed the fiber. And am warping now. But the thing has absolutely tromped all over me. I feel like someone stupid enough to buy my first hammer at a hardware store and decide to design and build my own house. I'm now on my last try to get it on the loom. If it doesn't, I'm going to cut it off and throw it out. But your word today encourages me. It isn't a pure fail; it's a learn/fail. Next time, I'll use my hammer on a dog house first.

Laura Fry said...

Oh my, sometimes the lessons are hard! Good luck with everything.