I’m currently taking an online design class, Inspired to Design by Elizabeth Barton – I love her blog and spontaneously decided to sign up for the class (it was only $37, so not a difficult decision!). We’re going through a number of design exercises meant to help us develop ideas, analyze and refine designs, and eventually make a finished quilt (fortunately she has said that I don’t need to make one, but can continue in my own medium).
Anyway, I am of course working on Phoenix Rising, and in response to one of the exercises, I wrote this background, aka “Why am I investing months on this project?”
Why Phoenix Rising?
I have battled bipolar depression for much of my life, and it has almost killed me three times, the most recent being about ten years ago. I was literally bracing myself to commit suicide because of the relentless ongoing pain when a friend offered to treat me with acupuncture. To my surprise, that made the pain go away (albeit temporarily), and that gave me just enough relief to get stabilized on medication. With medication, I’ve now been free of bipolar symptoms for ten years, and consider myself – if not actually cured (it’s a genetic disorder) – largely freed from Hell.
Simultaneously, I’ve also become quite successful in my artistic career, having finally freed myself from my scientific/mathematical background and embraced my life’s focus, fiber art – particularly handwoven wearable art. I’ve had one piece (my wedding dress) placed in a museum (the American Textile History Museum) and feel like I’ve really started to fly, now that I’m no longer battling this cyclical disorder.
To me, this piece is about the bipolar cycle of mental highs and lows, and finally breaking free from the cycle and being able to fly. Secondarily, it is also about breaking free from pure reason and embracing a looser, more flowing, more colorful creative side.
I hadn’t really thought this through before, and now that I’ve thought it through a bit more, this suggests all sorts of possibilities for integrating the “meaning” to make it a more complex and interesting piece. So I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth already – and I’m only halfway through the first lesson! This will be a really interesting and beneficial class, I can tell already.
Most of my work on this is going to be in designing fabric, since the exercises are really geared for two-dimensional design (quilts, after all, are largely two-dimensional). Much of it may not be practical for handweaving. However, I plan to develop garment ideas at the same time, because of course the garment has to be compatible with the cloth! (Or vice versa, since I usually start with the garment design and design the cloth from there.)