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* * * PUBLISHED * * * Artist feature in Stitchillo, a brand new book in a series called 'Encyclopedia of Inspiration' from UPPERCASE (click to link)
* * * EXHIBITION * * * Homeland: A Collection of Prairie Threadpaintings by Monika Kinner-Whalen. Kathy Theissen Gallery in Rosthern SK. July & August 2017 Reception 10 am to noon on Saturday, July 15, 2017 Station Arts
* * * MANITOBA * * *
Sept 2 & 3 Vendor - Proutopia
Sept 9 &10 Teaching - Sketch to Stitch / Runs with Scissors Studio
Sept 15 & 16 Vendor - Manitoba Fibre Festival, Red River Exhibition Park

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Monday, 30 May 2011

Inspiration & Identity

Oh what a fabulous afternoon at the Forestry Farm House.  I can't tell you how much I love to watch people look at my art!  It's so rewarding, and so enlightening.  I met several people who couldn't stop oogling about the prairie.  There were people who began to tell me about how homesick they were when they moved away.  There were people who connected because they love fibre art.  I met weavers, painters, photographers, quilters...  I met so many other incredible people selling their art at the show.  Friends came by, both new and old.  I met friends of my mother's side of the family (pretty much anyone who came through with a thick German accent).

* * * the only downfall was that i forgot my camera! * * *

photo i took at the Forestry Farm Park & Zoo, 2010

The oddest, yet most moving thing was the amount of people there who were friends with Courtney Milne.  For any of you who don't know, Courtney Milne has spent much of his life taking astounding photos of the prairies and sky.  It was his picture card of "Big Old Flatland" that I took with me when I left Saskatoon.  That was the photo I would stare at and cry over because my soul was back in the prairie, not in the mountains or foothills.  Long story short - Courtney Milne passed away a year ago.  It was then that I began to learn about his passion for this land, not to mention the fact that he ran art workshops to teach people how to see.  I had never even met him, and now it was too late.  I never met my grandmother either.  She died when I was in-utero.  I only have these fabulous stories of her. It hurts to hear people tell me, 'oh you would have loved your grandmother', or 'your grandmother would have loved you'.  It hurts that I missed out.  You know,  all the 'would have's.  I felt like that after my Opa died.  I felt like all his untold stories died with him.  I wished I had asked him to tell me more stories when we were together. 

a photo I have of my grandmother, circa 1950's

This isn't a long-story-short, is it?  Well at one point, one of the many "Courtney Clan" who was standing at my display said in a gentle voice, "Oh it's too bad Courtney couldn't be here.  He would LOOOVE your work".  There was a huge pause.  I didn't know what to say.  I didn't say anything.

I thought about it again on the drive home.  I cried in my van (happy cry).  I still have to process that one. 

So many strange and unusual things continued to happened at the show.  At one point, a certain woman walked in the room.  She looked very pleased with my art.  I completely recognized her face.  I had looked at her lovely smile on such a regular basis.  I knew her.  She was from my childhood.  You know, the days when we had 2 TV channels?  CBC and CTV.  This is from 35 years ago you understand!  I said, "are you Carol?  Are you from TV?  How do I know you?"  She smiled and said, "Wow, you remember that?  Yes, I'm Carol Blenkin.  I did 2 for the Show and it was on every day after The Flintsones".  OMG!!  You must know that growing up in Saskatchewan, our celebrities included Carol, and Bob MacGrath (from Sesame Street / Telemiracle) and that was about it.  This was a big deal.  Carol really liked my work.  The funny thing is that she ended up asking to take a photograph of me with my work!  She also signed my guest register.  That's kind of like getting an autograph.  (kewl.)

one of my first prairie photos

Many older couples spent a lot of time looking at my work and my stitches.  One couple in particular came back a second time.  The woman commented that she really liked my work and that it was quite good.  She had a German accent, so I assume someone in my family knows her.  She told me she also makes fibre art, but all hand stitched.  I asked her about her German accent.  She said her name was Margot.  (Margot Lindsay?)  Yup.  WOW.  I just learned about her work one week ago through my daughter's preschool teacher.  Incredible!  She describes her work as 'looking down' at the ground.  It's the prairies minus the sky.  SHE did french knot canola and flax pieces that are unbelievable!

We had a great little connecting conversation.  We talked a bit about how we don't fit in with our fibre art.  It's not quilting.  It's not formal embroidery.  It's not landscape painting.  We both connected on that point.  And then this lovely lady with her hair as white as snow gave me her phone number and invited me to visit her any time so we could stitch together.  How honored am I!?  A real, live mentor and fibre-art companion!?  I feel so happy to find 'my tribe'.  I don't have the words for it.


So there are my top stories.  Sentimental.  Comical.  Inspirational.  So far I have half of my work sold and one more commission.  I have plans for the remaining ones still for sale, and lots of time now to complete everything else I've started.  My next show isn't until December, but I'm busy enough until then.

misc. photo I took from the car window.

Thanks everyone for all your support and thank you to all the wonderful people I met today.  : )

~Monika

14 comments:

Wendy said...

I'm so happy for you Monika.

Beeps said...

Hi Monika! I just found your blog sorta-kinda by accident. I LOVE that you've got photographs of the prairies... growing up I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books and always wished that I was from "there." Last year my aunt and I took a trip to visit the US prairies and trace our favorite heroine's travels. It was my first time in the prairies and I was in love. Nice to meet you! ~Candice

Michelle V. Alkerton said...

I'm thrilled for you Monika. What an awesome day :)! There is nothing like the feeling of connecting with other artists/artisans? in person and what a thrill to have them enjoy your work too!!! Your art and you always make me smile. Thanks :).
Stay inspired!

LynCC said...

How fun! I'm glad you had such a great show experience. Pretty darn cool that you were visited by Carol! Thanks for sharing - I love enjoying such experiences vicariously.

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

Congratulations! It was a great show! Wonderful pieces, love them all.

Vicki W said...

Oh my gosh, what an incredibly special day!

diane said...

Thanks for sharing your day with us. You are so fortunate to do something you love and to meet your mentors along the way. Your art is so beautiful.

Becky said...

Sew kewl! What neat stories! Thanks for sharing! Glad your show went well! Neat, neat, neat!

Jeane said...

I am so happy for you to have such an exciting show and sale. You are truly making your mark as an artist and I am thrilled for you.

Patti said...

You'll love Margot. She's one of the kindest, most humble artists...so glad you've found a kindred spirit!

Grandma Coco said...

Congratulations on such a successful day!

Linda-Sue Lohse-Lange said...

Thanks for posting the Margot Lindsay link - I'm thrilled discovering your work & Margot's within a few days of each other. I am inspired by & love the Canadian prairies --- but I've only been there in winter --- so far! I'm from Iowa in the States, rolling hills & Mississippi River bluffs, corn & soybeans & sorghum. I also do multi-media fiber art. (Hi, Grandma Coco!)

Jillsy Girl said...

Is that a rape field in bloom? It looks like one from my times in England. The last time I went to England I had to have hubby take photos of me in the middle of one! They are so beautiful and are very abundant in northern England.

Christie, Describe Happy said...

So much fun to hear the stories of your day! I can't imagine ... I'd be so star struck and probably have a hard time figuring out what to say. Honestly I couldn't be happier for you... soak up every second!! And celebrate!!

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