What’s on the Loom

This post is a revision of the announcement I sent recently for the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, plus a loom update

The last issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter came out at the end of February, a pandemic century ago. And this issue was almost ready to publish on May 26–you know, a century ago in the life of Minneapolis. We learned of the horrific murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis policeman, unleashing sadness and fury in this city and across the country and world. The following week of nerve-jangling helicopter noise and damage to local businesses was frightening, but not as frightening as the clear evidence, once again, of racism and injustice rooted in history. And yet–the amazing peaceful protests!

Against this backdrop of the overwhelming need to work for a more equitable and just city, and state, and world, the newsletter felt trivial.

Yet, in the hope that beauty and fine craftsmanship will always remain relevant, even in difficult times, please enjoy the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter. There is one pretty relevant reference in this issue. Sally Reckert wrote a review of the new book about the life and work of Norwegian tapestry artist Hannah Ryggen. If Hannah Ryggen was alive, there is no doubt she would weave a tapestry on the current upheaval sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Since April, I had been donating my Norwegian Textile Letter donations to the Second Harvest Heartland, a Twin Cities food bank I greatly admire, out of concern for families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. And now, sparked by the horrific murder of George Floyd, the need for action on racial justice, and rebuilding local businesses, is imperative. Through donations from fans of the newsletter, I’ve been able to make contributions to groups like the Lake Street Council and various minority arts organizations that have been hard hit by the pandemic and the local rioting. It’s my modest “action in isolation” (together with letters to legislators).

Walks around the neighborhood

During the days of rioting I walked our neighborhood, other neighborhoods, and the memorial site to George Floyd. While our south Minneapolis area was not one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods, businesses were damaged in the Hennepin/Lyndale/Lake Uptown area. All the shops we frequent were boarded and closed.

A heartening thing started to happen. Each day as I walked, the boards blossomed into calls to action and beautiful murals.

And now–what to weave?

Before the murder of George Floyd I had prepared a cartoon and wound the warp for a pandemic-related image. Suddenly, it seemed inappropriate. My new challenge would be to capture graffiti from this momentous time. I chose elements from a few storefronts, and created a cartoon. Will I be able to translate it into a tapestry woven in Frida Hansen wool transparency technique? The loom is ready.

The graffiti colors are chosen.

Stay safe.

4 comments

  1. It’s uplifting to see the murals that have been added to the boarded up storefronts. Art has a way of healing hearts. (My personal favorite is the one of George Floyd’s daughter). I’m looking forward to seeing what you are inspired to weave.

  2. Thanks for the images and thoughts Robbie. It was heartening to see the murals and to hear about your planned tapestry.

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