* * * 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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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

On the Right Track

Don't get me wrong - I work VERY hard at what I do.  I am dedicated and meticulous with my craft.  I must say however, things sure are happenin' for me in this career.  It makes me think either I must be ridiculously fortunate, or I'm simply on the path I am meant to be on.  I'm just at home sewing.  More often than not, opportunities born in my wildest dreams come knocking on my door.  I count my blessings every day - sometimes more than once. 

I'm not great with words, so bear with me as I collect my thoughts and tell my story here.  It does all tie in together.

* * * For one thing, I've been wishing I could teach more workshops for children around the themes of stitching and fibre art.  I've done in-class projects with several Preschool and Kindergarden groups.  They are SO rewarding and refreshing.  I take great pleasure in giving children a new opportunity or skill because they always take it further than I would have suggested.   I never fail to learn from them.

my youngest boy at Beaver Creek

In the back of my mind, I have often felt frustration at the fact that of all those years in public school and high school, art and sewing were completely separate camps.  Art was NEVER fabric and thread.  That's right:  capital N, E, V, E, R.  Art was pencil, ink, paint, clay, wood.  Sewing in HomeEc was NEVER creative.  High marks came about as a result of properly following instructions and patterns.  I was 40 when I discovered that you can combine the two.  * * * I wish I could influence the curriculum so no one else has to go through life loving both but believe they have to pick one like I did.

photo by my husband Michael on Canada Day 2011

Here's another thing.  Recently, I read an incredible article in Hand Eye magazine about the usefulness of teaching people with special needs to sew and create art.  There's a school in Japan that has done just that. The result of this program is that the very people who are inappropriately identified as 'burdens' are suddenly elevated to an entirely different platform.  They become more than merely 'contributing' members of the community; they become necessary because of their ability to openly and unabashedly express themselves through art.  This article broke my heart wide open.  Needle and thread are perfect tools, and a terrific repetitive / relaxing / past time that creates useful skills.  These people are embellishing second hand clothing and inexpensively transforming it into highly sought after art.  I would love to be instrumental in something like that!  It's a huge impact from something so simple.  (You can find Hand Eye magazine HERE)

Above - Liam age 5, repairing the rips in his jeans.  Below - Liam age 9 free motion sketching.

Art is also one of the most powerful instruments in healing the human soul.  My first career out of university was as a therapist / social worker / advocate.  (I've been working from home since having children.)  The population I worked with were adults who were survivors of sexual violence - either recently or from childhood.  When that hurt inner child who doesn't have the terminology to deal with what happened can express themselves visually, it gets to the core of their emotions and the healing (crying, rage, and empowerment) can begin.  Art is a way of expression and communication, plain and simple.  * * * I wish I could help people heal with fabric and stitches.

Yarn-bombing in Rosthern, SK

I'm pretty passionate about all these topics mentioned above, but I've been unsure how to get myself engaged in reconnecting what I do today with social change.  I've donated art to organizations and causes... but * * * I wish I could do more hands-on with children, and 'vulnerable' populations.  It's a matter of getting out there and doing it, sharing it, teaching it.  Where to begin?

Then came the email!  (Molly said I must be careful what I wish for!)  I received a request to come back to my home town as a former-alumni-turned-artist to spend a couple days at my old highschool doing presentations.  I couldn't believe it!  I said, 'absolutely!'  It's all booked and ready for later in the school year.  I'll be in several secondary Art classes to introduce thread and fibre. (! ! !)  Then on the second day I will be in some of the Home Ec classes introducing art & career applications for sewing.  (! ! !)  The coolest part of it all is that the person who booked me is the resource room teacher.  She wants me helping her to teach her special needs students how to sew.  I got choked up.  Can you believe that?  What are the odds?  This is thrilling to no end and deeply humbling.  It's like a little dream come true.  Who knows what opportunities lie ahead?  On the right track.. this is meant to be.  : )

What do you think of that?


Pieces of Sunshine said...

That's amazing. You are definitely the right person for the job too. The possibilities are very exciting.

Kitchener Quilter said...

The kids will gobble it all up. They will love you and what you can teach them.

HollyM said...

I think you have the perfect words! I taught school and then worked with adults who were going back to school. We worked hand in hand with social workers. I did lots of reading about combining learning with art and healing through art. If I could do it again, I'd take art therapy.
It's wonderful how things are opening up for you, Monika. What an exciting opportunity!

Anonymous said...

and i was right! (i've always wanted to say that, hee hee!) when you put your energy into your passion, and then set it free into the universe, it grows - it multiplies a thousand thousand times and comes back to nourish you. and so it goes with you! i'm so happy for you!

Kit Lang said...

Big heart smiles over here for you. Congratulations. <3

Vicki W said...

That is awesome!

Margaret said...

Yep. Definitely blooming where you're planted! :-)

Mouse Droppings Fine Folk Art said...

Thoughts become things...

Jill said...

That's so fantastic that so many opportunities have come up for you! I'm sersiously considering a few giant life changes into the unknown and although it's scary, I think it's the right thing, and stuff like your story reminds me that you never know what can happen until you take that plunge! Congrats, and thanks for sharing! :)

Mary-Frances said...

How wonderful for you and for the students you will teach! I am in my late 40's, studying social work and have incorporated quilting into my school projects...I am encouraged to know I will be able to incorporate quilting and other modes of creative expression into my social work practice...thanks for the inspiration and the link, what a wonderful article!

Heather said...

excellent post. While I do use patterns for many projects, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones where I just plain create and put stuff together. They are the ones that keep me awake late into the night stitching away. I have tried to teach that type of freedom to my children. My son is two months short of completing his photography program, yippee. He has taken some most unusual photos. This will be his creative outlet for years to come. i would never have thought it years ago when he stopped taking art. But he met a teacher in grade 10, where art was compulsory at the school and he found his creative gene once again. All he needed was encouragement.

Good luck and have fun with the students and the resource teacher.

Becky said...

So glad you're finding your path in life!! How exciting!

Ruth said...

I think that is great Monika. It is great to give back and help others- makes you feel so good inside.


Sheila said...

Monika, I think your gift has put you on this path and it is where you are meant to be ,your creativity may just save someone , I mean really , I agree that art can heal and if so then you will be instrumental in changing someone's life for the better .Your work is an inspiration ! Congratulations and all the best ,I know you will do well.

Kiwi said...

Simply awesome!

Rose said...

You are definitely on the right track in my book!
Wonderful opportunity!
I firmly believed for a long, long time now that the world would have fewer criminals and smaller jails if art was respected as an outlet. I think there are too many frustrated artists that don't even know they are artists!

Juanita said...

This is wonderful Monika!! Having worked on a peace quilt with immigrant women survivors and painted tee shirts with abused women and their children for our annual clothesline fair(breaking the silence),I have seen over and over the ways that art gives people a voice, and encourages healing, better self esteem and growth. What a great opportunity for you. Who knows where it will lead.

Bonnie58 said...

Wonderful post, Monika. Once again, you have shown us all how big your beautiful heart is. kudo's to you. On a personal note, I'm positive the folks at Cosmo would LOVE to have you come in and give a presentation or two to the folks over there. They are continually looking for new projects for the 'crew" to do.

happy stitching..


CitricSugar said...

That is one of the most fantastic things I've heard in a long while! Amen!

elle said...

I'm hearing you. I've been given the opportunity to work with my second gal who doesn't 'fit the mold'. I think fibre arts is a real key for these gals! This whole sunbect is very intriguing!

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