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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Community Workshops - StoryScapes

Well THAT was an amazing experience.  I delivered 2 fibre art workshops through the Children's Discovery Museum and what a wonderful opportunity that was.  The whole purpose was to explore ways in which we tell stories.  As the Fibre Art person, it was so perfect to chose quilts as the method. After all, everyone knows that a quilt (traditionally) is full of stories and symbolism, right?  Wow.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

The week started off with a call from CBC Radio, asking for a live interview on the Saskatoon Morning show.  I brought a bear's paw quilt in with me and shared the story of what that particular quilt means.  The woman interviewing me had no idea that quilts have blocks with traditional symbolism.  She was impressed and said, 'wow, I'm going to start asking what the story is next time I see a quilt.  I had no idea.'

The first workshop was held at the Children's Museum.  The workshops were intended for all ages with full family involvement.  Again, as I introduced quilts as having hidden meanings, people were surprised.  I guess being a quilter, I feel like I always knew this.  In fact, it was my emotional reaction to learning about some of the quilt blocks that drew me to making quilts.  Bear's Paw.  Apple core.  I had to have a quilt like that!  Flying geese.  Chinese Coins.  I love them!

detail of a sampler quilt I borrowed from Judith Gidluck / Saskatoon Quilters Guild

The 'Ah ha!' moments happened over and over.  One mother in the first group was in awe, "oh my!  My Grandmother gave me stacks of quilts.  I had no idea there were meanings in them!  Really!?  I am definitely going to ask her about this!  I have to find out the meanings."  It was a beautiful moment.  All of a sudden, all of those quilts became a treasure, something of value and intrigue.  (It also tells me that quilts are more undervalued than I thought.)

In the end, I really enjoyed sharing stories of quilt blocks with participants.  I also deeply enjoyed hearing the stories that the people told with their fabrics by collaging their own quilt blocks.  There were stories that told about the personal challenges of becoming a parent, the struggles of constantly moving house, and the experience of immigrating to Canada from overseas.

I was so happy to hold a baby... and he fell asleep in my arms (swoon!!)

The second workshop was at The Mother's Centre / Station 20 West.  It started with a hot meal which was so fantastic.  This was a large group that filled 2 board room tables.  There were girls and boys of all ages, mothers, and grandparents in attendance too.  I'm sure most of the adults expected to sit back and let the children craft, but I encouraged them all to go ahead and make a story with fabric.  It was really fascinating, and it's incredible how personal everyone's art became.

each individual created something so unique

The children told their stories from the loss of a pet (symbolized by stars in the sky) to the thrill of a snow blizzard!  There were futuristic stories of flower houses and prehistoric dinosaurs with bad breath.  lol  It was fantastic!  Some just wanted to lace the paper over and over.  Some created 3D pieces.  : )  One boy noticed the motif in the blue sampler quilt immediately said, 'It's an eagle!' and so he was bound and determined to make himself an eagle.  Another child who was very young was more interested in chopping yarn.  I thought that was terrific.  I told her all the pieces could be hair for a dolly, and then she had to make a dolly.  ; )  I cut out the body and suggested she make clothes for her dolly out of the fabric.  She was so proud of it - didn't she do great!?  Maybe she'll tell her dolly some stories.

The parents and grandparents shared their love for the earth.  That was a strong theme throughout, from sunsets at the lake to their garden in summer, to the pain they feel for the pipeline through the reserve land in North Dakota.  That mother was very open to sharing all the symbolism in her piece.  There's so much to every little thing she did with it.  I think many of the adults on both days were grateful at how therapeutic it was to process their feelings or joy and pain.

It was such a simple idea, but it was such meaningful activity.  Everyone was so creative, and because it was symbolic and full of hidden meanings, they were able to deal with whatever they wanted to without having to share if they didn't want to.

And so ends another community project.  I love to see people explore with fabric and stitch.  It's always so creative and therapeutic for them, and so enriching for me to witness as a facilitator. Thanks everyone who participated and thank you to The Mother's Centre & the Children's Discovery Museum for making it happen.  AND it was all free for them thanks to Sask Lotteries and the City of Saskatoon funding.



Margaret said...

This post just flat out made me smile! Well done, Monika!

Lin said...

What a fantastic thing to do Monika - you must be flying after that! Such a lovely post. xx

Threadpainter said...

You are such a hard worker Monika ... an inspiration !
Love that little boy with the lacing all over his piece ;) !

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