The Last Day of Spring | Dyed Cloth & Stitching

The last time I saw my mother alive was in a hospital bed at Wilson Medical Center. Even though she died two years ago in the month of May, the memories of her dying haunt me each year on the last day of spring. The news that she wasn’t going to survive falling and breaking her hip came as a slap in the face to my heart. My mind knew the reality but my heart was in total denial. Momma was ninety years old and after our dog’s Snoop death a month before she had lost her will to live. My momma was a survivor. She had come through breast cancer, a broken heart and a wounded spirit to be a kind champion for justice and equality. Momma and I talked on the phone multiple times a day, and that’s what I miss most.

She would always say, “I love you and I like you, too!”

I miss hearing my momma’s voice. I miss her joy, and I miss her being overly protective of me.

“Dream big and aim high! Don’t just say your dreams, show them!” I can hear her saying in my mind.

The lack of ability that one feels in being able to see through the dark murky veil of grief feels overwhelming on days like today. Once the shock wears off, the funeral is over and you’re left alone fatigue sets in. It feels like being in a heavy mist of ominous gray clouds during an afternoon thunderstorm after a hot humid Carolina summer day.

I hear my momma’s voice in my mind and sense her presence but she is as elusive as a sheet of off-white colored cirrostratus clouds.

I sit in her favorite chair in the family room looking at our dog, Snoop’s toys neatly stacked in his little red wagon and whisper the words, “I love you and I like you, too!”

I feel a mixture of joy and pain. Joy for the privilege of having a momma who lived to be ninety years old. Joy for being blessed by having parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who loved me. But pain, knowing that they are all buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Walking Out Transformation

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.

Praying My Memories Haunt Me

My art concepts are place and memory. Since returning from Indigenous Fashion Week the place is becoming Daniel Hill, an indigenous community in Wilson, North Carolina. Two bloodlines made up the people on “The Hill” Algonquin and West African. I represent the Algonquin bloodlines from Currituck down to Chicamacomico, across to Mattamuskeet, up Contentnea to Toisnot.

I’m walking out my dying Momma’s prayers to share stories, plant dyeing and stitching along with my clay with the world. I can hear my Momma’s voice saying, “If you get, give! Share with the world and the world will share with you! Those that learn, teach!”

So, with Pura Fe’s endorsement, I was invited to participate in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. The experience is transforming me as The Life Event that will define me as an artist. Standing next to Lake Ontario with small puffs of sharp wind pealing away the circumstances of my life, I experienced clarity. The land of our ancient Algonquin Gathering Place is a tonic of illumination for me.

I arrived in Canada carrying the deepest human feelings of my life. Six days after the second anniversary of my Momma’s death on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, which this year was my 50th Darden High School Class Reunion.

I feel embarrassed that after two years, my Momma’s house and mine still have stuff inside of them. I’m paying rent on my house and using it like a storage unit. I feel like I’m homeless under a “Mountain of Things” that’s crushing me. My Lake Ontario experience is helping me understand why seven generations of women in my family have had to walk out The Blues on the black sandy soil on the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina.

I came close to being a no show at my high school Awards and Memorial banquets. High school is on my short list of worse experiences of a lifetime. I had identity issues, attending Darden in grades 7 through 12, knowing that I was Native with a Reservation Indian father aggravated by living with my mother in a home controlled by her mother. Being in the Band, having a few friends and a one-way bus ticket to get me near my Grand in Big Cypress, Florida enabled me to endure. I never knew the majority of students attending Darden with me, and I hadn’t encountered many of them since high school graduation. When classmates remember me in high school they describe me as being pretty with long hair.

It’s only now, 50 years later that I understand and appreciate the values I learned during my troubled adolescence. What doesn’t kill you, does make you stronger! When I review my life as a whole, I’ve had more joy, happiness, creative moments and beauty than pain and disappointment. God is with me and has been since I was baptized. I am a child of promise, conceived in love, born with purpose as a witness to “walking by faith, instead of sight.” I’m humbled by the circumstances of my life and thankful for every precious breath.

Art by Carola LLC

Going back to my Art by Carola business name brings back pain. I went to grad school with Art by Carola as a sole proprietor business and caught hell behind it. I take ownership of the blame for my grad school failure because I trusted insecure mean-spirited people. And, they did what insecure mean-spirited people do by trying to destroy my creativity.

Except for Jesus their plan would have worked. I’m standing on the blood of my Ancestors, and I even had Cherokee land protecting me while I was there. And then there was Penland, welcoming me each summer to a transformative art experience. Circumstances have a way of working themselves out for the best.

Grad School was my first up close and personal racist experience in an art environment. It was ruthlessly racist, fed by a group of insecure women who felt like there weren’t enough blessings to go around. So, if someone who looked like me at a blessing, then it took something away from the amount they possessed or fell short of possessing. Insecure women in a group feeding each other’s dark feelings are vicious. But thanks be to God, I survived, and what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger. I forgive everyone involved in the Art Department and Graduate School at Western Carolina University. My God show each of you the mercy you weren’t able to share to me.

Precious Memories

Lisa Y. Henderson thank you for providing the following history about my family.  Dear World, God revealed this blessing to me yesterday afternoon.  It’s published recorded information about my family a year before I was born.

The Daniel Hill Educational Club

The D.H.E.C. was organized September 9, 1949, by Mrs. Mattie Randolph. Mrs. Randolph called together some of the parents who lived in the Daniel Hill Community and discussed with them the advantages of having transportation for the school children in the vicinity. The parents agreed with her, therefore organized a Daniel Hill Education Club. Three weeks later the organization had enough money to carry each child of the community to and from school each day, and by December the club was able to buy a small bus of its own. With the cooperation the members of the organization have given, and the help of other people, the Daniel Hill Educational Club now owns a bus large enough to seat 32 persons. Under the leadership of Mr. Moses Haskins, who is now president, the members of the D.H.E.C. are still working hard because they know that cooperation is the way to success.

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Daniel Street, rented for $12/month, Less Haskins, 38, wife Annie, 39, and son Moses, 17. Annie worked as a laundress; Less and Moses as coopers at a tobacco factory.

On 17 September 1931, Moses Haskins, 21, of Wilson, and Minnie Woodard, 21, of Wilson, married in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 403 Spruce Street, garage serviceman Moses Haskins, 27; wife Minnie, 31, laundress; children Doris, 14, and Gloria, 6; and mother Annie Haskins, 50. Next door, at 405 Spruce, Paul Randolph, 45, who worked in a garage, and wife Mattie, 39, a practical nurse and South Carolina native.

From Daniel Hill to Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

I’m a Sage Paul, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto learner. The original design concept is to “challenge what you think about Indigenous Art.” Standing on the land of our historic Algonquin Gathering Place with cloth dyed by my hands spread out on a table is the Circle of my Bloodline.

Change is always painful and difficult but we have moments in time, when it’s all made clear. When we get to see behind the curtain of our own personal masks and realize the significance of our time on this Earth. We all have a purpose in life. We all have free will as to how we choose to walk out our purpose including the option of doing nothing and ignoring the purpose all together.

My choice is to make art in a way that’s sustainable for the land and Eastern North Carolina Algonquin culture. As an indigenous woman, “I’m not a stereotype, I’m not a trinket and I’m certainly not a commodity.” Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto is teaching me that I can succeed, that my creative energy does matter towards making the world a better place.

Living and making art Down East gives me little validation. It’s a struggle with little recognition or acknowledgement. But, life isn’t fair and I don’t expect it to be. I’ve got to be creative and design a plan for success regardless of my circumstances.

To that end, today I met with a Small Business Counselor to establish myself as an LLC. I’m back to being Art by Carola creating art at Indigo Fibershed. Art by Carola LLC will sell handmade clay and fiber art, and teach workshops online and in-person. My focus will be indigenous art making practices of Algonquin people living on the Outer Banks and Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina. My art concepts are place and memory. The place is the Daniel Hill community and the memories are shared with Doris Jones, Minnie Haskins, Mattie Randolph, William Ashley Davis, his mother Doretta Davis, and everyone connected to “The Hill.”

Art Lessons From Jazz

Art Lessons From Jazz
Be in the moment.  Create from the deepest human feelings & design from the highest level of artistic sophistication.

As I stood on this boardwalk looking out over Lake Ontario, the circumstances of my life yielded clarity.  I understood every tear, my feelings of loneliness and my fear that I would never have a man of my own with whom I could share romantic love.  Standing on the earth at our historical Algonquin Gathering Place, I understood myself.  It was one of those Aha moments, when all the layers of self are painfully scrubbed away and the inter most core of my being was experiencing the sharpness of the breeze blowing across the lake.  At this moment in time, I understood the circumstances of my life, from conception to the breath of the moment.  Life is a painful lesson! 

Getting myself to Toronto was a difficult journey.  I had to push myself through the swampy bogs of The Blues.  It’s a lifetime of sorrows turned into happiness that got me from Daniel Hill in Wilson, North Carolina to Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto, Canada.  It’s one of God’s miracles.

My story is an Algonquin one, from a Skaru:re Toisnot point of view.  My story is in two parts: place and memory.  Art created from places on the land that sustain us, and memories of moments shared that strengthen us.  I begin being born at Mercy Hospital and taken to Daniel Hill to a double Shotgun house with Mama on one side, Yat on the other and Ms. Doretta’s tribe around the corner.  When I came to know myself as me, that was my world.  Daniel Hill – a community of Algonquin and West African people, who sustained a cultural connection to creativity and valued handmade.

The only child born to many mothers because I grew up in an Algonquin style Moon Lodge between Minnie, Mat & Head Lady Mis’ Doretta. Mis’ Doretta had twelve children spread out from my Momma’s age to mine.  She was famous for baking cakes but she also managed the quilting circle.  She was no drama and by the time I was seven I knew I wanted her way of living as a woman.

I was born into a dysfunctional family dynamic in a household controlled by my mother’s mother and the mean man she was married to.  It was emotional drama between her husband and two daughters with different fathers.  I had figured out by age seven that all your children needed to have the same father if you wanted joy and contentment in your home.  Mis’ Doretta was my living example.

Daniel Hill is the place!  Memories shared are with connections to “The Hill’s” legacy.  I’m humbled to be selected to share a place in Indigenous Fashion Week.  It has brought me to my Algonquin family and to a place of knowing that only comes from connections to sacred places.

Lake Ontario Gathering::Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto 2018

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3e12Wow! I pray we realize that we just made history and we are tasked with sharing creative hope towards the next seven generations. Dear Elders, Sisters, Daughters and Nieces who participated in all ways large and small at #IFWTO. Strut with Native Pride for being Idle No More. Sage Paul’s creative vision gives spiritual, heart-pounding authentic truth. Each person brought an indigenous seed to The Nation.

Neyuheru:ke Awakening is the seed of hope from the Tuscarora ancestral homeland between the Neuse and Roanoke Rivers. Our fertile black sandy soil was once the home of Algonquin townships and farms. Control and ownership of our ancient North/South Intracoastal Waterway and inland trails caused our horrific deaths. North Carolina was ground zero because we jut out in the Atlantic. Spanish, French and finally English people encroached on the Outer Banks and Coastal Plains of Carolina from Verrazzano in 1524 to Raleigh at Roanoke in 1587.

We are a First Contact place and people. We were the first slaves and the first run-a-ways, hiding out in large numbers in swamps. We used reeds to breath and hid out in the murky water around Pine In The Water places. 

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Since the burning and sacking of Fort Neyukeru:ke on March 20-23, 1713, we have hid in plain sight in swampy backwoods places living off the land. My great-grand father explained Fort Neyukeru:ke as “da’ duh big big trubble, dat weh ooman mens sca’tuh.” Those of us left behind are known as Gatekeepers. We stayed behind so that others could get far away by traveling our ancient land trails in all directions. The largest group escaped North to the Haudenosaunee. Smaller groups survived crossing the Eastern Divide and received sanctuary from the Cherokee. Other groups went South to the Cree and Seminole Nations. Our knowledge of the rivers and Intracoastal Waterway helped our getaway and our survival.

 

Today, large numbers of us continue to live on the Coastal Plains. The majority of us aren’t recognized as existing by the State of North Carolina. Today, we are a mixed blood remnant attached to scared places with protected memories about our culture passed down through creative hands experiences. My presence and participation in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto and my bloodline gifts witness Divine Mercy resulting from steadfast preserving faith and unshakable hope in God. It’s not on my own efforts but through connections to All My Relations that I am selected to deliver knowledge of plant dyeing, stitching and pinch pots to our indigenous relatives living in Canada. I humbly pray Divine Mercy for the whole world.

To God Be The Glory::Life Lessons From The Greatest Letter Ever Written

On the eve of my second Mother’s Day without a living momma, I’m being made stronger than I’ve ever been by the teachings in Saint Paul’s letter to the Roman Church. The Holy Spirit grouped me with women believers who shared testimonies of faith in BSF classes, while we studied Romans over 29 lessons. The experience is changing me! I would rather see a sermon any day instead of hearing one and BSF gives me authentic living witnesses.

The gospel transforms all people who believe! All people means every Nation, every tribe, every tongue during every time in history. It’s all of us! All of humanity! It’s not multiple races of people living on Planet Earth.  There are different ethnic groups and cultures but it’s only one race – The Human Race.  We All Are Related!   “For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11

What am I learning from studying Romans?  First Three of Ten Things …

1) Time Waits 4 No One! My salvation, my justification, my sanctification were all secured by the high bounty of Jesus’ Passion. Believing in a resurrected Redeemer is an action and reaction. It doesn’t mean, I can kick back, prop up my feet, act like I’m rich and famous and talk about how saved I am.  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

2) With every breath pray for enduring preserving faith. Stay in the present. Yesterday is gone forever and fear is the future. Only in the present is there action and reaction. In order to overcome my fears, I have to face them. Look them square in the eye and learn to fish. Cutting bait, quitting, giving up, walking off aren’t options when believing in Jesus.  “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'” Romans 1:17

3) Hold on to unshakable hope with all my strength, mind, heart and body. We all have two wolves inside of us. One wolf is mean-spirited, sharp tongued, vindictive, scheming, plotting, lying, manipulative, spiteful, angry, disappointed, lonely, bitter, angry, self-righteous, selfish and jealous with feelings of entitlement. The other wolf is kind, generous, thoughtful, humble and practices discernment. The wolf we feed is the wolf people see. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit enables us to feed the humble and kind wolf. On our own without salvation we can only feed the ravenous wolf snared in life’s traps of sex, self, silver and sloth.  “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.'” Romans 3:10-11

To Be Continued In Next Blog …

May Day::”Today I Begin Anew…”

May 1st is a memory of celebrating spring by dancing vibrant colored strips of cloth around a flower-covered pole.  Momma was the freshman/sophomore Home Ec teacher in charge of dying the fabric.  She dyed the fabric in our backyard under a pecan tree on Atlantic Street.  May Day meant being able to wear all my bright colored clothes to school in Nash County.  Mrs. Clyde Harris would weave fresh flower crowns for us to wear on our heads.  Three of us, were dressed in white gowns and danced to the music of “Our Father.”  Precious memories!

Fast forward, to May Day 2018 and the beginning of the best Life Event of my creative hands adventures – Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto!  As I conclude my semester long study of Romans in BSF plus 50 years of life lessons since graduating from high school, Paul’s teachings give me chastisement and encouragement.

My big picture concepts from studying Romans are: 1) Redemption, 2) Guide to Becoming a Mature Believer, and 3) Time Waits for No One.  These three concepts also sum up 50 years of School of Hard Knocks learning built on the foundation of teachings from my three Mommas.

  • Momma | Doris Jones: “It’s best to see a sermon any day instead of hearing one!”
  • Mama | Minnie Woodard Haskins: “Yesterday is gone forever, tomorrow may never come, all we have is this moment, so make the best of it!”
  • Mat | Mattie Burnette Randolph:  “Be aware of the three traps set for everybody in all times, all places, every Nation, tribe and tongue. The traps are Self, Silver, Sex and Sloth!”

In 30 days, I “Go Up North” in the rural southern tradition of the North being a place of opportunities and acceptance for an indigenous person of color.  The big reveal is a Carport Studio for Skaru:re Toisnot Cultural Center located at Indigo Fibershed.  The Cultural Center goes live on May Day with Black Walnut Pow Wow from 9AM – 12 Noon and 2PM – 5PM.  Video tutorials on YouTube.  Process Blogs on Tumblr.