Imagine Englewood If in collaboration with Living Arts Center of Andersonville
Sculpted paper pulp and yarn-wrapped sticks
We are artists representing Imagine Engelwood If… and Woman Veterans in the Chicago Area. We are Artists, Activists, Friends, Organizers, Mothers, Daughters, Grandmothers, Aunties, Teachers and Learners, Veterans and Volunteers. We are members of community who are living in Englewood and beyond – the North, Northwest, and South Sides of this web we call Chicago.
Our project began by coming together over food, conversation, and tactile craft materials to get to know each other; discussing our lives and our community, our concerns and our passions, while creating a collaborative sculpture. Our materials were sticks, stones and stories. We sat in a circle around the table, in the way that women have often gathered in sewing and quilting circles across the world. Each of us placed a river rock in a bowl, and set our intention on what we were bringing to the table that first day. “Peace”, “unity”, “curiosity” “creativity” were offered followed by intentions set by the five other women. We sat together as a circle of nine. We began to wrap yarn around wooden tree branches. The branches were a raw, rough natural material, and we transformed them with the movement of our hands, wrapping soft warm textures and vibrant, beautifully colored yarn around them until each piece reflected its unique creator. Both branches and our stories became more colorful as time went on. We played around with structure. If the sticks standing upright on the ground were placed together and leaned into each other it formed a nexus of delicate balance. If tied together, the beautiful bundle of sticks was strong, sturdy, colorful and impossible to break. Perhaps these were metaphors for the many different ways community comes together. We ended with claiming our stones and naming what we were taking away, “gratitude,” “process,” and “optimism.”
In our second and final meeting, participants created their own sheets of handmade paper using cotton pulp. Again, we started with raw materials, forming beautiful sheets of paper with our hands, connecting natural fibers with water, motion and pressure. We created individual works that were unified by color, material and time spent together.
This final display of our piece combines the elements of those two meetings. The piece is changeable like communities representing respite, creative labor, and the union of our shared collective dreams.