Sarah Haskell Weaving a Way to Better World

Now that Sarah is an instructor, I hope that she will become a friend.  With the first words she writes, you know that she understands that weaving and creating are part of a larger picture…that making beautiful, skillful art will make the world a better place.  In my mind, I will arrange an instructor tea party between Sarah, Mary Jane, Chris, Susan and Elizabeth…because in my made-up world they will enjoy great conversation and Earl Grey tea…and then create a plan that will bring happiness to large numbers of people.

Sarah is teaching two classes this year:  Drafting and Fabric Analysis made Fun and Easy on Saturday from 12:30-4:30 and Weaving an Amulet Pouch (a great introduction to weaving for all ages) on Sunday from 12:30-3:30.

In Sarah’s words:

1. The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:

“Thread by Thread: she believed in the power of art to transform and heal”

2. If forced to choose, would you be an eraser or a permanent magic marker?

permanent marker ~ to signify courage and commitment

3. Do you live with any animals?

The girls. Some still with me, one gone to doggie heaven, but still in my heart.

4. What are you currently reading?

Books and periodicals in my reading pile:

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

“Dream Work” by Jeremy Taylor

“Little Bee, a Novel” by Chris Cleave

The New Yorker magazine and Sun magazine

5. What is the most surprising response to your art you have ever received?

The tragic and dramatic events of September 11th motivated me to create “The Button Project: a 9/11 Memorial”. This piece has been exhibited in many times in many states. On the occasions that I have been at the reception, I have been able to witness the power of this piece to move and emote deep a response from viewers.

The part that surprises me is that in creating this work, I was attempting to assuage my own confusion and grief. In the process of working through my own emotional challenges, I wove a common thread for all humanity.

6. How do you know when your work is done?

I know when a work is done when I feel a visual balance. Because much of my work is pre-planned, designed, sketched out and thought through on paper, I “know” when I have achieved my vision for this design. This knowing comes for the most part from experience and practice.

7. What do you listen to while you create?

Pandora radio works great for me. I have a wild and eclectic variety on my play list. From Jimi Hendrix to Phillip Glass, Krishna Das, John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Eva Cassidy and more.

8. Why do you (knit, quilt, spin, carve, design…)? What is your purpose?

I weave because it is my voice, my medicine, my way of making sense of and responding to the world in which I live.

My purpose is to design and create works of art that offer visual pleasure as well as stimulate curiosity, humor or intrigue.

9. What do you know that you don’t know?

I don’t know what lies beyond the horizon.

I am an explorer at heart. The unknown horizon constantly beckons me. I attempt to keep asking questions, to take creative as well as personal risks and to use my art as a deep well of discovery.

10. How does, or should, the word “passion” relate to an artist?

Passion describes the emotional intent of an action, specifically an action that is driven by the heart. I do not believe that all art must be passion based.

I can only speak for my own work. I do believe that my work is heart driven, or passion based. I am not driven by economic or political motivations. I am driven by my need to share what is in my heart. I learned from designing/creating the 9/11 memorial that when I follow this pathway in my work, I am not only personally fulfilled, but the art work is more successful.

11. Looking back, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently?

I have lived my life as a permanent marker. Nothing would change.

12. A lot of artists want to be famous, and some just want to make a living doing what they love. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I hope to have completed my Doctorate in Ministry. I am currently completing my Masters of Art and Healing. These degrees combined with my BFA in textiles from RISD, create a platform that will support my work as visual artist, teacher and community artist. I will build on my current work that uses weaving/textile art as a vehicle for social change, community building and personal growth.

13. If you could give advice to anyone aspiring to work with fibers, what would it be?

Be curious and courageous. Network with others that inspire you. Reach out to a mentor.

Ask lots of questions, even at the risk of feeling silly/stupid. This is the way you will learn not only about your art/craft, but about yourself. Be a permanent marker!

14. When it’s time to “tap” your creativity…where do you go to get the juices flowing?

I go to Mother Nature. Specifically the ocean or the woods. Time spent alone in the company of water, rocks, leaves and seeds tends to restore my sense of self and recharge my creative vision. I use my journals as a place to keep ideas and images that sprout from these forays into the natural world.

15. How many projects do you generally have going at one time?

Multiple. As a self employed artist/educator I have many works in progress. From commissioned work and teaching (that provide the economic foundation) to personal exploitative art works, I have many “irons in the fire”. The trick is to keep the fire going; to not let the spark of each of these works flicker or fade.

You can find more about Sarah on her website, find her on Ravelry as Sarah Haskell and Facebook as Sarah Haskell

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