Brunswick for the Weekend

Artist, teacher and activist Sarah Haskell

This weekend I had the pleasure of going down to Brunswick and spending time with Susan Perrine and her husband Steve…exploring her favorite haunts, eating great food and meeting a few of her friends.

Spending time with Susan is like comfort food for the soul.  She doesn’t pretend to want the best for everyone…the wish simply vibrates through every pore of her skin. Walking around the Farmer’s Market with her left me with the impression that she’s friends with everyone who shows any inclination towards living creatively.  She notices color, texture and sounds while carrying on interesting conversations about how we could make things even better with more banners, more participation and community spirit.  If Susan ran the world, the required course of study would be: How to pare your life down to the necessities and get on with what is important.

Susan was the perfect date for  Sarah Haskell’s fiber talk at the ME Fiber Arts Gallery in Topsham.  Sarah spoke of her weaving, dyeing and spinning projects from a very personal place.  Always fascinated by houses and the homes that make up a community, Sarah told us how in the years prior to 9/11 she wove of things she knew best…her friends, family and the immediate world that surrounded her.  After the attacks she found that world blown open and suddenly she felt the pressing importance of recognizing that our human connections have little to do with physical proximity.  For her the suffering of those in Haiti was as close as the experiences of the neighbor down the road.

Executive Director Christine Macchi on the left

Sarah trained at the Rhode Island School of Design and touched upon how this education shaped her ability to express her ideas by giving her the technical training and exposure to techniques that allow her to develop her work through the years. Later in Japan she learned the art of Shifu, the incorporation of writings on twisted paper within a weaving.

A weaving in progress

Praise for Life...one of a series based on the Jewish Kaddish Prayer

"The Language of Truth" series was inspired by the concept of truth, both at home, in our country and the world. Each piece incorporates the Japanese technique of Shifu (twisted rice paper with writing), and explores thoughts about truth. Shown 1 of 4

Another of her projects is community based…prayer flags inspired by Tibetan tradition and the Buddhist concept of impermanence. Sarah launched the project in December of 2007 by putting a call out across the world: send me your thoughts of well-being on scraps of paper, ribbons, anything you can find to write on and I will read them in a public place before capturing them in prayer flags to go back into the world. Take the time to read her blog and see the scope of this magnificent endeavor.

Prayer flags with written messages of universal goodwill

Floor loom for participants to weave their own flag

When I walked away from the talk, I left with a clearer understanding of how color, shape and texture could be a language unto itself. On that didn’t need to rely on translation. Sarah taught at Fiber College in 2010 and I sincerely hope that we can expand her touch in the years to come…I can’t help but imagine that if she were a flower, she’d be a Delphinium…shimmering with iridescent colors, ruffled softly on the edges and strong enough to hold her ground when the winds blow.

Suzy Perrine? Well in my imagination she’s a glorious hedge of Rugosa Roses…sheltering gentle creatures, celebrating life with color and perfume…making our world better regardless of the season.

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