Saturday, March 28, 2020

Troubled Times

It's hard to write about anything now. Difficult to move from moment to moment in the uncertainty that surrounds us. It would seem as a tapestry weaver who's used to spending long hours alone, and also as an introvert who prefers to have little interaction with people, this time would be ideal to be in the studio working. But anxiety is a constant companion and keeps me from staying on task with much of anything. I jump from project to project and don't really complete much of anything.

One of the plans I had for the spring was a one-person exhibit at Sarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. And a workshop during that time to be held there. Well, I shipped my tapestries to the gallery on March 2. It was installed just a day or so before the university there went to online for the rest of the semester. Hadley, the director's companion dog, was with him when he sent this photo of one wall of the installation. Remember seeing sweet Hadley from a post last year when she was with him at Aya Studio in Florida? Scroll down at the post and you'll find her several times.

Photos of Sarratt Gallery installation by David Heustess
The gallery director is showing my work periodically on social media and I appreciate that effort to share my work through that means. But the tapestries won't be viewed on site in the gallery; that's one of the best things about having an exhibit--getting to see one's artwork in a gallery space.

Another plan was to submit a small tapestry for the American Tapestry Alliance small format, non-unjuried exhibit to be held in Knoxville, Tennessee this July in conjunction with Convergence. Over the past two weeks, the ATA Board had to assess the impact of the pandemic and, after much discussion, made the very difficult decision not to hold the actual exhibit, but rather to create an online exhibition of the tapestry entries. I had shipped my tapestry earlier in the month and it joined the over one hundred that had already been received by the volunteer working with the exhibit. The Board asked that other shipments be suspended (the deadline had been March 31). This was an extremely hard decision to arrive at--and I know first hand because I'm a member of the ATA Board. Many people have been disappointed by this turn of events and some are even angry. We certainly don't have a crystal ball to see what's to come but the likelihood of plans for the summer event being in jeopardy is distinct.

Here's my small tapestry, 10" x 10", called Springtime in North Georgia.
I've had to empty the studio freezer of the dye materials I'd been storing: zinnas, marigolds, black walnuts.  Making room for extra frozen food items seemed like a better use of the space right now. I've dyed several skeins of yarn so far and plan to do more today.

These are minor, unfortunate disruptions to life. Nothing comparing to the illness and death of thousands. And the fear that has swept the world since the beginning of 2020.

Springtime has arrived in north Georgia. I am still able to get out in my neighborhood to walk each day. And in the woods at our creek house nearby. In the past weeks I've watched the bloodroot and the fiddleheads return once more and that is a solace. It helps me think that things will recover... maybe not ever be the way it was before this novel coronavirus entered the world. But a new normal. Until the next crisis.

My husband and I are self-isolating and plan to for some time to come. How long? Who knows but hope is still with us for health and safety in these trying times. I wish the same for each of you.


  1. My son and his wife are professors at Vandy. I was looking forward to seeing the show on my next visit. Now they are teaching from home and we are not able to see them. ATA made the essential CALL. ALREADY SENT IN MY piece so having a virtual exhibit is workable and even a catalog is very generous. It is certainly a time for patience and understanding. Take good care,

  2. I would love to be standing in that gallery with your beautiful works. Thank you for sharing these photos, especially the bloodroot and ferns which remind me of Spring of 2017 at Penland. ❤️
    Oh, and the walnut stew! I can almost smell it.

  3. Hi Tommye,
    Thank you for mentioning what a difficult decision the ATA board faced. I wasn't part of making the decision but have had to make some decisions for other groups. No one has a crystal ball. The Board made the best decision they could based on the information they had. The wonderful thing is that we can still have a virtual exhibit and a catalog. The Renditions 2020 team is a wonderful group and everyone has been working hard to pull things together. The deadline is still March 31. The only thing different is that the tapestry doesn't have to be finished to hang in the exhibit and it shouldn't be mailed.

    It is such a trying time for everyone. Our first grandchild is due at the end of May. We're very nervous about that, but like the spring flowers his delivery will come.

    I am sad for the students who don't benefit from your instruction and seeing your wonderful work. I do hope that can be rescheduled. Maybe they can eventually have the workshop rescheduled or it could become virtual.

    We're self-isolating, too. I'm reading a wonderful book right now: "Threads of Life: History through the eye of a needle" by Clare Hunter. The pandemic has brought home once again how important all forms of fiber art are and this history is more meaningful to me because of that.

    Thank goodness for all fiber arts right now!

    Hang in there! You and Thomas stay well.


  4. So sorry Tommye. I respect the ATA board's decision and how hard it was to make. I consider myself a strong and resilient woman but this sitation has shaken me to my core. I am grieving for all that has been lost by so many.

  5. Many thanks for detailing your situation. I feel much the same with exhibitions and conference, teaching and other projects cancelled. My diary is empty except for a zoom AGM. I have tidied and cleaned to counteract the compulsion to listen to news, but this week want to focus again in the studio. Positive thoughts to everyone.

  6. Thank you for sharing your photos of your tapestry exhibition, I can only imagine the magnitude of awe when viewing your tapestries in the University's gallery.
    I respect ATA's decision, I mailed my piece in and looking forward to it's return, the Online exhibition and the catalog.
    I appreciate your blog, visual and inked descriptions. Thank you Tommye