I have been working on a new piece, "Out Into the Wilderness," for Lent. It wasn't on my to-do list at all, but once the idea marched (well, it is March after all) into my head, I had to pull out fabric right away. Here's a process photo.
I've had this African damask (probably from Mali?) for several years, waiting for the right project. It's one of those "take it out and stroke it" pieces that you just love but also don't want to waste on an unworthy effort. This time it was just right. There's some sari silk and a line of purple that used to be a very nice textured silk pants suit. I bought the stone beads on an excursion with Larkin Van Horn in 2012 when she visited Huntsville and Conroe during the Deep Spaces exhibit. And the big stone thing at the bottom is a fossilized digit from some ancient animal.
My friend Gil is a fossil hunter who has been generous enough to let me pick through his buckets of fragments to find pieces small enough to include on art quilts. It's so neat to look at these little rocks and discover that one is part of a turtle's shell, another is a jawbone fragment, and so on. Gil has larger fossils as well, but one has to consider the weight when sewing stones onto cloth. We're hoping to hike out with him at some future time to look for fossils in creek beds he knows well. For now, however, my fossil hunting is just in the buckets.
I have worked with this wilderness concept before and know I'll return to it again. Patrick and I visited many national parks and drove through empty landscapes while researching for the book we never wrote; I always felt at home there. My father loved empty land. He used to complain about "too damn many people." So when I read about Jesus being "driven out into the wilderness" I thought: "Lucky him. He probably needed some time by himself." I remembered hiking up the volcano cones at Valley of the Moon National Park, getting lost on the rocky glacial landscape in Glacier NP, walking out into Arches NP-- barely realizing how very far those arches were from the road, and how dangerous it would be to get caught out there after dark without enough water. On our Trans-Canada train trip the granite shield continued for hundreds of miles, sparsely inhabited and covered with scruffy forest. I return to these places in memory all the time.
So I thought of Jesus walking out into the desert, seeing traces of the beings that had walked there before. "Remember, man, thou art dust" and so forth. Considering what direction to go. Finding a convenient rock to sit down on, or sleep beside because it held the heat of the day during the chilly desert night. Emptying his mind and then wondering about water. Quite aside from Satan and those pesky angels and birds of the air.
That's my Lenten meditation for now.