Maryly Matthewman is a fiber artist but, more importantly, she is a caring person. In fact, she’s a caring person who also happens to be an artist! Maryly creates community wherever she teaches, and with students of all ages. She’s found that fiber creations can help us to express ourselves and to connect to each other. Maryly’s commitment to the Prayer Flag Project in her hometown is touching; she shares that important story here. Last year at Fiber College, some of us were fortunate enough to take a mitten knitting class with Maryly; she quickly created an atmosphere of laughter, color, camaraderie, and creativity. The class was simply too short. We’re thrilled that Maryly will be teaching at Fiber College again this year. Let’s meet Maryly.
What does “Do it your way!” mean to you from your perspective as a fiber artist and teacher?
It defines my quilting style now. With our first grandchild due in September ‘13, it was time to get quilting again after taking seven or eight years off. I was thrilled and very excited to see that the quilting world had changed. New styles of fabric and designs. The women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama had really made a big difference to the scene. I now enjoy every aspect of the quilting process as I am doing it the way I want to. There are no mistakes; it is all OK.
How do you develop your own style?
I want my work to have a “life of change”. Have movement, bring a smile, create a memory, be full of color. Threads moving, buttons falling off, raw edges fraying more in time. Full of color at the start but fading over time, like us. With so many loved ones and friends in a state of change this year, it helps to remember nothing stays the same. Impermanence.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I do not have any set pattern or ritual. The piece we will be doing started out with just a bunch of contrasting color circles. When I had put the quarters together I wanted to create a swirling motion within the new circle I had created.. Then I realized that this was how it really felt to have ideas spin around in my head and all of a sudden a few ideas break free and VOILA a creation!!! But for this workshop you will see what happens to your new colorful circle. You will be surprised at what happens!! We can chat with each other and share our circle story. I will have lots of embellishments to share. I hope we can create a workshop full of communication and sharing.
How does your earlier work differ from what your are doing now?
My earlier quilts from 30 years ago were very structured and conventional and most of my energies were put into this process. Now my energies are focused on designing, color combos, and not perfection!!
Tell us about your studio space and how you work.
Ahh, my favorite question. My Studio! I love it here and I am such a homebody anyway. I saw these quotes from Anne Lamott somewhere along the line and it suited me well. “Messes are artists’ true friend,” and “Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.” My loft studio is a light-filled, airy space full of music, my work, pottery, view of the mountains and our fields, and my pups are always under my feet. Yarns and fabric, books and baskets, embellishments and beads.
As an instructor, what would be the best advice you could give to a student?
Best advice for students is keep practicing the basics. You may only have a few hours a day to practice your art. Now I am so grateful for unlimited time.
What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?
“You get more than you give/” In June of 2011, Vivika De Negre started The Prayer Flag Project. I started a small branch of this in Gilford, NH in July 2013 for a 6 year old boy with an inoperable brain tumor, DIPG. John Bradley Thompson would sit in his hospital bed at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. with a fish net collecting wishes while his friends in Gilford, NH made flags of wishes, prayers, hope, strength, courage, and health. I also made a cozy quilt of some of these flags. Sadly, John Bradley passed away a short time ago. Hundreds of these little flags led the path for over 1,000 friends from the community church to the cemetery, close to a 1/2 mile, filling the air with strength, courage, and hope. The creative process of making these flags helped a community express feelings, a creative outlet. I hope to continue offering little “workshops” on Wish/Prayer Flags at our Boys and Girls Club, hospitals and at Fiber College this year. There is more info at The Prayer Flag Blog.
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
The Most Important thing I can tell students about me is that I have been sewing and knitting for over 50 years. Do not get discouraged with a project the first time around. I also have been working with women in our county jail for over 4 years and they teach me something new every day I join them; they amaze me in their daily struggle.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned as a fiber artist?
The greatest thing I have learned as a fiber artist is that not everyone will like your work and that is OK. We are all different and see things differently.