I have a fondness in my heart for creativity that bursts out in more than one way. Margaret Fabrizio came to my attention by her quilts, but she is also a well known harpsichord player who played with the Grateful Dead, and had one of her collages on one of their album covers. I also dig curiosity, and she followed her curiosity when she first saw a kawandi quilt exhibition, Soulful Stitching, at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Kawandi are created by the African Siddi women of Karnataka, India, and Margaret Fabrizio traveled to India in 2012 in order to learn more, and has a series of Kawandi videos on YouTube from her visit and the process of learning.
The Siddi’s are descendants of enslaved Africans brought by the Portuguese to Goa on the West Coast of India between the 16th-19th Century, and who eventually escaped to their own diaspora communities in the mountains of Northern Karnataka. Siddi women collect worn out clothing and when they have enough for a quilt, buy a cotton sari and use it as the backing for the patchwork that they sew with a continuous running stitch. The corners are finished with Phulas, meaning flowers, a multi-layered triangle. It reminds me of those old fashioned photo corners for affixing snapshots to albums, and also half of a Log Cabin quilt block.
Previous Orange Tuesday subject Cathy Vaughn mentioned she was watching Chef’s Table on Netflix, and she was blown away by Chef Niki Nakayama. Stratoz and I added Chef’s Table to the queue, and witnessed the artistry of Niki Nakayama’s food, and learned a new word, kaiseki. Kaiseki is a 13 course meal that originated in Buddhist Monasteries of 16th Century Japan. It was an accompaniment to the tea ceremony, and originally vegetarian, but has become a banquet of richness over the years.
Seasonality is a key to kaiseki, and respecting the integrity of the food, letting its nature shine through. These cherry tomatoes from the Lansdale Farmers Market remind me of the season of summer, of sweet yellow-orangeness. Stratoz is inspired by what we buy at the market, and it makes him happy to create with the palette of vegetables we choose.
The staff of n/naka have meetings to go through the reservation list, and look at what people have had in the past, what they like. Niki Nakayama doesn’t serve the same meal twice to someone. She keeps the element of surprise. Kaiseki reminds me of poetic forms, from my days of writing poetry. There is a sequence of cooking techniques, the ordering of raw, steamed, braised or grilled, and sequence of light and heavy, sweet and salty. Playing within this form inspires further creativity.
Watching Niki Nakayama in her kitchen is watching an artist at work in the studio with focus and expressiveness. She closes the rice paper windows of her restaurant n/naka while she is cooking so that she can simply cook and not deal with customers who can’t believe a woman is the chef, and also lets the customers focus on their food. As an introvert, I love the motion of her closing those sliding windows. As a woman, I feel anger that narratives are such rigid implements, like the customer who said her work was “cute” after he found out Nakayama’s gender. As a woman, I feel encouraged by Niki Nakayama’s process of choosing a restaurant that expresses her vision.
I just love color and when I say I love color it’s not about that I just love bright colors. I just love color. I’ve had a really fun time in the last year, two years, working with beige and just exploring and playing around with the properties in the colors of beige, the different beiges, so I just like colors and so I tend to work with a lot of colors.
Stratoz and I satiated our quilt sense at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza 2014. This special exhibit, out of the Crayon Box, by Rachel Clark was like a dream closet, a space of color clothing the body and soul. That last phrase is her tagline and it is wonderful. The opening quote is from an interview with Rachel Clark, and she articulated something that I have experienced – a love of color, not just bright colors. I love playing with colors in all their forms.
This is color play at its most exquisite. Kathy K. Wylie created this quilt for a competition with the theme of color. She wanted to create a color wheel using hexagons, but finding enough fabric to do all the gradations of hue was a challenge. I love her solution of printing the hexagons onto fabric sheets, using the power of the computer to mix colors. Wylie started with cyan, magenta, and yellow, the classic three colors of digital printing, and named the quilt Trinity in their honor.
Hilma af Klint(1862-1944), was of the first generation of Swedish women allowed into Sweden’s art schools. She discovered spiritualism and attributed her paintings to a higher consciousness working through her, and she and four of her friends were influenced by Theosophy and Rudolf Steiner. I discovered this in the middle of reading Rudolf Steiner’s book on color theory.
Some of her spiritual paintings were first shown the exhibition, The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 at LACMA Los Angeles 1986, along with famous painters such as Kandinsky and Mondrian, but Hilma af Klint was out of the loop of the art world, with her paintings. In a way she reminds me of Albert Barnes and his Barnes Foundation, in her guarding of her work, which cannot be sold, only released to institutions in order to support her archive. Because she has no collectors and is not part of the marketplace, it’s like her work became immaterial.
Ellen Heck is a fine art printmaker living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and these color wheels are a visual journal of the colors of her landscape. These appeal to my librarian and artist senses, with the organizing of ideas in a visual classification. There are times when the artifacts of creating art are as appealing as the finished piece, and imbue it with their own qualities.