Until my trek to Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, my art making transformations were limited to Penland School of Crafts. It’s an amazing creative experience to drive up Penland Mountain with one set of skills and in two weeks to drive down with hands transformed by a new skill set. My Penland experiences are like a heavenly tonic that nourishes my art-making psyche.
Today’s image is a close up to the first modern quilt I made, while a student at ECU in a Textiles class. I’m revisiting it’s concept as inspiration for my new body of work about Daniel Hill. Unfortunately, this quilt is lost. I gave it to a friend, who gave it to someone else, and now it’s lost to humanity. My solution is to remake the design from a different point of view.
Penland is not just about my artwork and art-making processes. Penland is a community of creative men and women who work tirelessly to improve their professional craftsmanship. Art heals our brokenness, and gives us a vision of the fabric that weaves us all together into a quilt of humanity. We are all connected, we all are meant to be creative and to express ourselves by creating something from nothing. It’s part of our shared DNA.
My life is imprinted with a passion for color, texture, pattern and design. I never had formal art education growing up as a child. The first person I saw painting was Bob Ross on PBS. However, I was blessed to grow up in a household with three mothers, all possessing creative hands dedicated to preserving indigenous culture. At an early age, I learned how to make color and apply it to cloth using plants, flowers, nuts and berries. I became proficient at embroidery, crochet, sewing, quilting and pinched clay pots. I saw how knowledge of color relationships and textures were transferred to growing flowers, herbs and vegetables, as well as all forms of needlework. As a bonus that served as my icing on a creative cake, I could see Vollis Simpson’s windmills that are now famously called Whirligigs. Everything is connected to the land including me. I was taught to pay attention and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me each day.
Indigenous Fashion Week put the circumstances of my life in perspective. I understand why I experience deep feelings and why it’s necessary for me to express these feelings in the highest level of artistic sophistication. The creative process is reconnecting me to, Daniel Hill, a place that fostered identity and a community that provided security to my mother, grandmother and Godmother and to my memories of a six-year-old boy who made me feel that I belonged and could be somebody one day. Continue to walk with me Lord, and illuminate my path on the wonderful adventure of my life. I’m standing on the prayers of so many gifted and courageous people and I’m humbly grateful.