Inspired by the Elements, the Political Climate and Botanical Literature / by Brielle DuFlon

Hi again everyone! Thanks for stopping by! 

I hope that your January's have trickled by as slowly and richly as mine did :). It was a good month for me, professionally and mentally. I managed not to get overwhelmed by the same amount of work that would have choked me a year ago. The changes I've tried to make in my habitual negative thinking and my perspective in general seem to be working! I seem to have gotten a little better at not pouring physical and mental energy into places that don't deserve it. That's a big deal for one who has been quite anxious for a while!  

Creatively I focused on two things in January. Finishing eleven miniature embroideries to be grouped into three pieces for the February show that I was roped into last minute at Chroma Projects Art Laboratory, and a large triptych that is heading out to California in a week. I won't go into detail on the triptych during this post, but will reserve an entire post for it after sending it off because it's a lot of fun and very different than what I usually work on! 

Outside of my creative life, I took some blows last month. My grandfather passed away peacefully but somewhat unexpectedly on January 10th. I just saw him in Montana at Christmas without knowing it was the last time I'd ever see him. At the wise age of 89, he was ready to go. The polio he survived at the age of fourteen was compromising his mobility to an exhausting point and he was starting to lose his mental sharpness (or so he felt - he seemed sharp as ever to all of us at Christmas-time) which had always been his biggest source of pride. He'd had his successful family get-together over the holidays, so he gathered his children and wife around him and after a few days of laughing, reminiscing and hand-holding he took a day-long nap and never woke up. Best case scenario really, but still difficult. I very much loved and admired him, and really value all of the adventures that we went on together (and there were many, my grandparents made sure of it). It has been hard to try to imagine Montana without him. It is always so difficult to process a loss when you don't get to see the person regularly as it is. Your mind just wants to trick you into pretending that nothing has changed. In order to keep my grandma company as she tries to accept her new reality (after being married for 65 years!) I've been sending her a couple of postcards a week hoping they'd make her smile and feel loved and plan on continuing to do so in the months to come. I bought 100 beautiful postcards!

 My grandpa, William Vorhees Skidmore, caning a chair quite a while ago. 

My grandpa, William Vorhees Skidmore, caning a chair quite a while ago. 

I'm pretty sure that my grandpa purposefully left before the inauguration. He'd been depressed and anxious since the election and wanted to leave this earth before it took this turn, I think. I can't blame him. I was in Washington DC on inauguration day and the air was heavy and the streets were quiet. The day after the inauguration I got to participate in the biggest protest in U.S. history marching alongside two of my closest female friends from college and hundreds of thousands of other women and men holding beautifully open, progressive, bold, hilarious, intelligent messages on posters, wearing pink knit pussy hats, shouting, whooping, calling and responding. I want to express GIGANTIC admiration for all who participated in the pussy hat project - as a maker, I was so so touched by the fact that so many people across the country put such time and effort into making these hats and sending them to the march in time!! So amazing. The weekend was really the best - empowering time with two close girlfriends, laughing, crying, cooking, drinking wine and eating cheese, listening to music, having amazing conversation, walking, observing, reflecting. The emotions of the weekend and of the march were so overwhelming that they're pretty impossible to describe but a lot of you know what it felt like. I was on the verge of crying the entire day of the march because everything felt so incredibly meaningful. 

 Fujifilm instax 300 wide photos I took on during the rally and march on January 21st, 2017. 

Fujifilm instax 300 wide photos I took on during the rally and march on January 21st, 2017. 

The empowerment is still feeding me and many people around me who inspire me every day. There is a lot that we're going to have to come together to protect over the course of this administration. I've been trying to stay active since returning to Charlottesville by overcoming some anxiety and making phone calls to my congresspeople about appointments I don't agree with, signing petitions against budget cuts, conflicts of interest, federal appointments, donating to organizations locally, nationally and internationally. I want to do more and plan on doing more once I get this triptych sent off and I have a little more breathing room. If you want to know what changes are being made around the issues you care about most, bookmark this website and visit it often:  

The Resistance Manual

I've also signed up for Jen Hofmann's weekly to-do list. You can subscribe to that HERE. It's an activism checklist that includes important numbers to call, scripts to use when speaking with someone or leaving a message, e-mail messages to copy/paste etc. What else do I plan on doing once I have a tiny bit of breathing room? Attending meetings for SURJ Charlottesville and applying to volunteer with our local International Rescue Committee. Check out C-ville IRC volunteering opportunities HERE.  

Ok. I've done my duty to acknowledge the scary situation we're dealing with, here and can now proceed with creative updates! I just wanted to share the miniatures that came together to create the three pieces I contributed to "Bindings," the show currently hanging in Chroma Projects inside York Place on the Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall. Before I show you the images though, here's the little statement I wrote for my pieces in the show: 

"The pieces created for Bindings were inspired directly by the elements, the current political climate and botanical literature I’ve recently ingested. I wanted to create families of miniature embroideries that stood strong as individuals and even stronger together. At this tumultuous time in U.S. history it has become vital for us to work with each other, move together and care for one another – this tenderness toward those around us and our environment is what I aim to embody in these embroideries that listen to one another and move as one."

I'll share them with you in order of completion. 

 Digital collage of the four miniatures that came together to create "The Slow Study of Mosses," each 4 inches squared. 

Digital collage of the four miniatures that came together to create "The Slow Study of Mosses," each 4 inches squared. 

 "The Slow Study of Mosses" hovering above the yarn that came together to create her!

"The Slow Study of Mosses" hovering above the yarn that came together to create her!

In case you're wondering where the name "The Slow Study of Mosses" came from, it came directly from The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, that I'd been reading all month in which the female protagonist studies mosses over a long period of time (and also from my fascination with olive greens). 

 A digital collage of the three 4" squared miniatures that compose "Kites." 

A digital collage of the three 4" squared miniatures that compose "Kites." 

 "Kites" with the many skeins of yarn that came together to create her! 

"Kites" with the many skeins of yarn that came together to create her! 

By this point I knew I wanted to make pieces that revolved around different elements but also wanted to create pieces that were about humans interacting with nature. I also wanted to use some of my off-white yarns in a setting together to look at their textures and tones side by side. All of this came together to create this little vertical triptych. 

 Digital collage of the four 4" squared miniatures that compose "Water is Life." 

Digital collage of the four 4" squared miniatures that compose "Water is Life." 

 The yarns that came together for "Water is Life". I don't have a photo of this family of miniatures framed - I forgot to get one before dropping it off at the gallery! But it's fun to see what all went into it anyway :) 

The yarns that came together for "Water is Life". I don't have a photo of this family of miniatures framed - I forgot to get one before dropping it off at the gallery! But it's fun to see what all went into it anyway :) 

I was originally thinking of the sea when I started "Water is Life" but quickly moved into wanting to make the piece about water in general, and also wanting to donate 100% of my profits from this piece to three very important organizations providing legal aid to the Lakota People and who fight to legally defend water and the environment. The three organizations I'm going to split the profits from this piece between are Earthjustice, Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) and the Lakota People's Law Project. I've wanted to create art purposefully with the intention of donating the profits toward a worthy cause for a while. It's something that I want to create a habit out of and do as often as I financially can. It's my time and the person who purchases the piece's money. It's my favorite kind of collaboration. I plan on starting a website page directly for these pieces so that if people are specifically interested in purchasing a piece that puts money toward aiding an issue, they'll be all together and easy to find. 

That, my friends, brings this epic blog post to a close. January 2017 shall go down as one of the most intense political times in U.S. history, what a year we've all gotten off to. Stay strong sweet ones. Take time to take care of yourselves and process all that is happening. When we are strong and stable individuals we can be those things for those around us, too. We need each other more than ever. It's important not to get exhausted now, the fight is only just beginning. Hope you all have a wonderful week and I will be writing again soon with news on the California-bound triptych! 

xoxo B