Dallas Airport, December 11- customs lineup for transfer to Vancouver- an interesting thing happened. An older Mexican couple in line ahead of me is confused by an officials request for those with connecting flights to step forward, the couple waves their customs cards not sure what to do. Somehow, a few hours in the air means the table is turned. I am suddenly on the side of the language majority; the woman looks at me, smiles apologetically and says, “speak no English”. I know just how she feels and am able for the first time to be that person- the one from the language majority that comes to the aid of someone in the language minority. Boy, how I have appreciated those people who came to my aid over the last several weeks as I stood by, baffled, feeling like a child dependant on others!
Don’t misunderstand, this was a very simple conversation, grammatically completely incorrect- but- I was able to say that I spoke very, very little Spanish- had spent 7 weeks in Real Del Monte, Hidalgo, that the country side and town were beautiful, as were the people. I found out that they were at their final destination, and family was meeting them here- and reassured her she was in the right place, and then she told me I was very pretty, I thanked her, wished her well and said good-bye as I followed the line for folks with international connecting flights…. Wow. Of all the rewards to meet me as I land back on English speaking land. Just one more surprise at the end of a life changing trip that was full of surprises… I am already planning how to finance getting back for the next project I have planned… and to keep working on my Spanish.
I had hoped to post again about the FRONDA residency before this point- but time seriously got away from me- the project ramped up, David arrived, social functions continued and the deadline of the open-house loomed. So weeks passed by unremarked upon- but not unremarkable by far.
I realize these postings have in great part been my” public processing method” for all that I have experienced- having been a few weeks since I wrote last I am not sure where to even pick up, So have just begun at the end.
I DID manage to complete 3 pieces- just- I was crocheting in bed the morning of the opening- which was at noon on Saturday, and also crocheted in a cantina the night before while drinking Tequila- I sat with my back to the pin-ups of naked women and focused on the 3 piece mariachi band instead- it was fabulous- and had a flash that my whole residency could have just been sitting in public places knitting and crocheting with anyone that wanted to join me or learn- another next time.
I found myself that last few weeks full of “next times”… Ideas came that I no longer had time for, but it felt like I had just found my groove, as if it had taken me too long just to” get there and settle in.’ But, as fellow resident artist Victoria Stanton said,” it takes how long it takes to Arrive.”
It all happened so fast I am not even sure how I feel about the work yet- there has been no time for processing, just responding in some ways- I figure I will look back at the photos in a few months’ time and decide then. Meanwhile, what does strike me is the irony of getting to work with two materials in high demand at home- Tulle and Junko ( cattail and bulrush for English speaking ‘commoners’)- I am used to working with the invasives like Flag Iris that choke these plants out- having acres available was overwhelming and novel-
alas, by the time the other works were underway and the tulle had dried enough to work with I was on the last 2 days, so I made a couple rapid fire weaves- thanks to colleague Nicole Dextras for sending me tips on drying and mellowing under wet cloths before use-Nicole said tulle is her favourite thing to work with and I can see why- yes, using this material resource in a large way is “projecto primero” on my “next time” list.
The fast weave form seems to resemble the aerial dishes and satellites that dot the landscape- the roofline piece stayed quite small, but somehow still resembles the rooflines of painted aluminum, I literally made this work up on the Friday before the opening- and nicknamed it 11th hour art- sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, as the spirit moves you…
Life Force is larger than I expected it would get- and I ended up not needing all the obsessively crocheted bits- needless crocheting the day of the opening!
I always have to remind myself sometimes things just are how they are- my inner perfectionist want to speak out, snark about how things could be different, better, cleaner, smaller, bigger- just different. And what quiets that voice is my awareness that it is ephemeral- it won’t last forever, and I think that is one of the big reasons why for me impermanence in my work is important. I don’t’ know that I will ever achieve making something I feel is worthy to last “forever”, or at least be deemed archival….
I didn’t end up processing ixtle from maguey the last weekend- I was just too tired, but I did talk about how my material choices were very different in this piece- using materials already processed that were given to me as gifts, not harvesting and processing fibers myself. I also made a promise that when I came back I would spend time unravelling the mystery of the maguey and how it is processed to ixtle- yes, another next time….
Community Wall Repair went up quite smoothly thanks to David’s help, I had really wanted to just pin it up using the needles themselves that had bound the materials- the needles driven into the adobe between rocks. Alas, not to be, so nails with heads were used as well- We also made up an ad-lib adobe to fill some of the really deeply worn areas of the wall where we needed anchors- cutting up unused grasses and foundation materials for coiling work and mixing it into dirt from the empty garden bed. Very fun to get hands in muck!
I have long been aware how my own inner compass radically swings from being a control freak organizer to being easy-going and having a “go with the flow” mentality. I know one of the key reasons I like working with community and putting pieces out in the environment is my desire to have my control freak challenged.
Mexico did this in fabulous Technicolor glory.
Occasionally frustrating, challenging, and ultimately one of the most beautiful and rewarding times of my life.
Funny to be living enough in the moment to recognize this as it unfolds. This is one of the gifts I hope to keep with me from Mexico: an ability to be in the moment- the true meaning of Mexican Time.
Mexico was ultimately way more social of a residency then I had expected and I am very thankful for that. I have never met such friendly and welcoming people anywhere before, I have occasionally myself “adopted” folks new to my city, community or country- but never have I been on the receiving end in such an incredibly full, rich way, and so I say once more, muchas gracias, to all the people who gave so much of themselves to both myself and my fellow Canadian artists.
My heart has been filled and my eyes have been opened.
Links of interest if you still want more…:
And some of my favourite photos: