Seaside Entertainments…

January 10, 2017

I saw a boy with dark eyes.

Punch me, Judy! He said.

Naw, I’m gonna punch you! I responded.

Ah oh.

punch

Detail from “Seaside Sampler” original design by Magie Hollingworth for Erhman Tapestry and stitched with adaptations by Meredith Eliassen, 2017.

He spelled his name out in the sand: J-O-E-Y.

I sat by his side and we enjoyed ices.

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Detail of cool seaside treats.

We watched the shoreline flirt with our feet.

Would he be the first boy to ask me to dance?

Would he grow up to be a writer?

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Another rain wave…

January 9, 2017

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Detail of a shell from “Seaside Sampler” original design by Magie Hollingworth for Erhman Tapestry and stitched with adaptations by Meredith Eliassen.

A shell winks at me from the sand.

I stoop and pick it up.

I put it to my ear and hear echoes from the sea.

My heart is light.

I continue down the beach enjoying my newfound treasure.

I stop.

 

I put the shell to my ear again and hear echoes from the sea.

I am comforted by its rhythm.

Some shellfish change their shells like we change houses

 

I toss the shell back into the sea… surrendering my newfound treasure.

The waves swallow it.

I let go…

Crabby today…

January 5, 2017

The beach empties except for a few seagulls.

A crab flirts with the idea of testing the sand.

He changes his mind.

The surf gently carries him away.

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Detail of crab from “Seaside Sampler” original design by Magie Hollingworth for Erhman Tapestry and stitched with adaptations by Meredith Eliassen.

A breeze touches my bare feet, reminding me that I am here in search of treasure.

Which way do I go?

Towards the rocks or to the little lighthouse on the other side of the dunes?

I see a boy who is gazing into the sky.

He lifts a finger to determine the wind’s direction…

He takes off and soon his kite drifts aloft.

The wind is steady… let’s go fly a kite! He says.

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Detail of kite from “Seaside Sampler.”

A Stormy Winter Morning…

January 4, 2017

As a child, I collected memories like sea shells that have become part of my psyche… piling into a car with my family, we traveled windy roads to the shoreline.

The tide ebbs slowly.

The seas calm like a child after many tears.

A climb down to the beach…

Seagulls beckon…

Letting go of my mother’s hand to explore…

I carefully edge over the grassy ledge to the soft sand below.

The cloud passes…

The sun is still there.

gull

Detail from “Seaside Sampler” original design by Magie Hollingworth for Erhman Tapestry and stitched with adaptations by Meredith Eliassen, 2017.

In the distance, other families, and many children engaged in adventures of their own… I climbed to the highest rock and stand. I see a lighthouse in the distance.

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Detail of lighthouse with seagulls in the foreground.

Where to the seagulls hide when storms come?

World AIDS Day 2016

December 1, 2016

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Every year World AIDS Day events take place across the United States to raise awareness and show support for people living with HIV. This red ribbon was designed by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.  Notecard

Marginalized groups in the United States have a long tradition of creating textile documents of remembrance. The Names Project, in conjunction with early AIDS vigils and marches in San Francisco, leaves an innovative and radical legacy in American quilting historiography. It documents a new community formed in a cultural hearth of a pandemic providing deeper meaning to those who had not already been touched by the HIV/AIDS, and reached farther in time than a more ephemeral event could.

Earlier quilts of remembrance simply were not big enough to warrant such broad media coverage needed to raise awareness of the economic and cultural implications of the epidemic. However, quilts have often been linked to radical reform movements. During the antebellum era, women subversively recorded reform messages into quilts. During the Civil War, women and girls stitched quilts to raise money for Army hospitals to aid Union and Confederate forces. Anna Hall recorded her family’s births, marriages and deaths in a black-bordered quilt, and Methodist Church women embroidered names of contributors to church fundraisers in red on quilts.

Men have frequently made quilts. Fraternal societies, such as the Masons, commissioned quilts that incorporated symbols of their secret orders. Cowboys made their own quilts on the Western frontier. Minority groups, for example Native Americans on reservations and African Americans in cooperatives, have embedded traditional motifs reflecting cultural sensibility to create distinct quilts. Likewise, each panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt provides a textured thought-provoking document and narrative of a life, giving voice to men, women, and children who otherwise would not be remembered as part of an ever-extending AIDS community that extends far beyond San Francisco.

In 1988, a year before HBO aired their program Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt; KPIX produced an AIDS Lifeline special, “Remember My Name.” Reporter Hank Plante traveled to Washington, D.C. to report on ceremonies of remembrance, as the AIDS Memorial Quilt was unfurled. Plante’s report consisted of slow montage of images and ambient sounds related to the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the Capital Mall. It included video of volunteer workers dressed in white preparing the quilt panels for display, a candlelight march, the unfolding of quilt panels, and reading names to commemorate AIDS deaths which conveyed misty layers of grief and memories. Plante moved through the panels and stopped suddenly. The reporter alerted his cameraman, “Look, there is a love letter stitched into the quilt.” Then with video rolling, Plante stooped to read the letter in quiet contemplation.

 

This chrysalis attached to a branch represents the pupal stage when a butterfly undergoes its metamorphosis. The California Indian basket makers seemed to emulate nature when they engineered baskets.

This chrysalis attached to a branch represents the pupal stage when a butterfly undergoes its metamorphosis. The California Indian basket makers seemed to emulate nature when they engineered baskets.

California Indian artistry was reflected in pragmatic ways with their fine nets for carrying burdens, trapping birds and fish. A Pomo burden net made of Indian hemp Apocynum cannabinum fiber cordage with trade Coast Miwok clamshell beads would have held a burden basket, and was used to transport things on an individual’s back using the headband to balance the load. Baskets were used to gather, prepare, store, and serve food. Coiled baskets made from slender willow branches were stitched into place with fine threads made from the underground rhizomes of the sedge plant. The warp and weft, and coiling were terms connected transferring knowledge for making coiled cooking baskets, basket hoppers and coiled cups. Large tightly woven-cooking baskets made from roots that were soaked efficiently hold water to withstand basket boiling to cook acorn mush and other foods. The hopper basket mortar was placed on the ground and the hopper basket constructed from small nicely scraped coiled shoots was placed on top. Water and acorn meal were placed into the basket then hot rocks were dropped in, bringing the content to a boil within minutes.

Burden Baskets were used for food gathering and transporting things. This one features a headband decorated with shell beads like ones made by Coast Miwok that were used in trading.

Burden Baskets were used for food gathering and transporting things. This one features a headband decorated with shell beads like ones made by Coast Miwok that were used in trading.

San Francisco Bay Area tribes prized cylindrical shell beads. Clamshell bead currency conveyed a pragmatic aesthetic value in daily items such as baskets and nets as well as sacred meaning in ceremonial rites that transcended the dominant abstract notion of paper or coin currency. Beyond being used as money (a medium of exchange), clamshell discs reflected value that was generally accepted or in vogue; within the context of time and place it reflected a quality of being and abundance that was widely accepted and circulated from person to person. Clam disc beads manufactured by the Coast Miwok were discovered at cremation sites at Olompali in Marin County suggesting that baskets embellished with these beads were burned with the dead.

Once California Indians entered the Mission systems, they lost the ability to gather and cultivate native plants needed to make baskets, they also lost access to the foods that they had evolved with. This is an example of a burden net made with hemp.

Once California Indians entered the Mission systems, they lost the ability to gather and cultivate native plants needed to make baskets, they also lost access to the foods that they had evolved with. This is an example of a burden net made with hemp.

I have been thinking about the use of flowers in fifteenth century French tapestries woven between 1475 and 1520 – depicting cowslips, daisies, rue, rosemary, etc. – common flowers from fields and woods floating in deep, dark backgrounds and forming the backdrop for a lady and a unicorn or lion. These compositions reflect a transition in drawing that was translated into textile by artists belonging to guilds who managed to create dyes that lasted hundreds of years. What makes these fanciful artworks relevant today? And will our designs created in virtual media endure in the same way?