My weekend with the Oiseaux Sisters, Susan Andrews and Carolyn Fellman, was exactly what this weary traveler needed - a chance to explore, to renew, to discover and to refill. The Sisters are strong, yet gentle, powerful yet unassuming - the perfect women to teach you how to fly. I walked in the door of Ellen Carver's Crafts for Living Gallery, located in The Mills at East Falls, and shed the Lesley Riley we all know in order to rediscover the Lesley Riley that has gotten buried over the last few years. Don't get me wrong - I love what I do and the opportunities that it has afforded me....but I had not stopped to take any discovery time for myself in such a long time. The time to explore without an agenda, a deadline, a committment.
I arrived late on Friday because of the rush hour traffic, so everyone was waiting for me and it was hard to slip in quietly. (I never like to draw attention to myself.) I wanted to be incognito this weekend, to step away from fabric and play with other media, ideas and inspiration.
There was a series of exercises to help us hone in on what we needed to be focusing on in our art lives. It was so exciting to experience how abstract play led me to focused work....something I know and teach/preach, but rarely do. (I know - practice what I preach).What emerged was this egg shape. I have always been drawn to it; I think it is a universal symbol and part of our collective consciousness, but I have never explored it. And I truly stumbled upon it through the series of exercises we were doing. Over the weekend, I worked from the abstract to the realistic, using this shape as a metaphor for what I was experiencing - both breaking out of my shell and beginnings. It wasn't until the very end when we did our sharing and walk-through that I also made the connection of oiseaux (french for bird) and egg.
I was also able to draw energy and inspiration from the wonderful and VERY talented workshop participants. Philadelphia is a hotbed of artistic and fun women. We made plans for me to return and explore their scene. I also had wonderful talks with Ellen about her plans for the gallery and future workshops and exhibits. The fact that some women stayed until 11:30 pm on Saturday night and others (including me) showed up extra early on Sunday, made Ellen's heart take flight. Her vision was becoming a reality. I hope she will soon get a website and expand her workshop offerings. Then others can share in the magic of taking flight. And if you cannot make it to Philly, or a workshop with the Sisters, just arrange for your own flight lessons...go into your studio and play. Play until you feel your wings flutter, unfold and lift you up into the sky. I'll see you up here.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.~ C.S. Lewis