This month I spent a week at an artist residency on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. I was hosted by The Island School and the Cape Eleuthera Institute. IS and CEI are organizations focused on sustainability and marine science research, which is way out my comfort zone but everyone was welcoming and happily shared their research with me. A few of the scientists showed me the maps that they create to help document their research findings. I was able to see sea turtle migration maps, then went out with researchers to catch sea turtles. It was all around a fantastic experience.
The day I felt most at home was the day I spent with the local quilt guild, the Pineapple Quilters Guild. (Pineapples are one of the major crops of the island.) Quilters are the same everywhere I go. We all want to talk about fabrics, new techniques, eat good food, and gab about our lives. Most of the Pineapple Quilters make traditional quilts, but they were game to try my crazy map-making techniques. One limitation they have is getting a variety of fabrics onto the island. Everything has to be shipped in, or as members travel to the U.S., they bring back fabrics for other guild members. I will not complain about how far I have to drive to find a quilt shop any longer!
During the workshop we made little maps of favorite Eleuthera locations, and they showed me the quilts that the guild makes for local cancer patients. Rather than quilting the quilts, they are tied with long ribbons. As each knot is tied a prayer is said for the recipient. I know many of us make quilts as a way to show our love to others, but I loved the idea of saying a meditative prayer as a way to focus on the receiver of the gift.
Now that I am back in cold Massachusetts, I am working on a quilt based on the colors and textures of the Bahamas. It's interesting to see how the colors feel different as I've moved climates. In the Bahamas, the strong sun made the colors vivid and come alive. In the darker, cloudier Northeast the colors seem washed out. Color always surprises me, and this group is no different.
After the New Year I am looking forward to getting back to teaching. First up is a weekly class at the Holyoke Creative Arts Center. This open studio style class meets on Friday mornings beginning on January 5.
I'm also excited to teach a weekend workshop at Snow Farm in Williamsburg, MA February 17 & 18. Snow Farm is known for it's wide and wonderful array of craft workshops. I am humbled and excited to be a part of the community.
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season.