Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Women of Influence

I flew home yesterday, both literally and figuratively from my first experience at being a part of a museum show. The Women of Influence show opened last Friday at the Fresno Art Museum. I missed the opening because of my Visionary Art Museum class on Saturday, but flew to California on Sunday to meet up with the other participants, Sandy Sapienza and Christine Adams), to team teach a journal workshop on Monday. It was a great way to spend the day, especially with the 112 degree heat in Fresno!

The museum has several concurrent show focusing on women - one of them being Jean Ray Laury's retrospective show. Have I ever told you the back story on me and Jean Ray Laury? (That's Jean next to me in the photo, wearing her favorite color - yellow, Sandy on the left, Christine on the right.) Jean and I go all the WAY back to the 70s, although Jean didn't even know I existed until we started the journal project in 2002. You see, Jean wrote a book in 1975, The Creative Woman's Guide to Getting It All Together at Home Handbook. I was a very young mother and quilter trying to find my way and this book became my bible. It profiled other quilters and artists and how they balanced art, family and housework. It was revolutionary in it's time because we were in the midst of the Feminist movement and women were just beginning to realize that there was more to life than diapers and cooking. There was no Internet, no Art & Soul, no Quilting Arts or Cloth Paper Scissors. Although I lived in a metropolitan area, I felt very isolated and being shy, did not easily find other like-minded souls. So Jean's book was my connection to the world. I knew there were other women out there who understood me and my passion for fabric and creating.

I finally met Jean about two years ago when I went to teach for the Fresno Fiber Arts Guild, which has been in existence since 1972. Jean was one of the founding members. Going back to Fresno for the museum show and dining at Jean's home Sunday night has made me feel that my life has come full circle. Opening the pages of Jean's book back in 1975 was the beginning of my journey. I read those words and wanted to be just like her, inspiring and encouraging other women to be creative. I have always wanted to give inspiration and encouragement to others in the same way that so many women have given these gifts to me, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Sandy is part of my journey too. She gave me my first teaching opportunity in 1996 at her We Folk of Cloth Doll Conference. And Christine is the local friend that I was looking for all of those years. Also a mother of six, Christine has spent a lifetime balancing her art and family. Her encouragement and support have been invaluable. Each one has had a major influence on my life and I don't really think they are truly aware of how much they have contributed to my life. Thank you, Jean. Thank you, Sandy. Thank you, Christine. And thank all of you who have come into my life, through classes, my art or my writing. We are all women of influence.


barbara stroup said...

Hi Leslie - What a wonderful story about the inspiring women in the photo...

Lynn Simpson said...

Glad you had a good time at the show-I would have loved to see the exhibitions-keep on being a WOMAN OF INFLUENCE! Love,Lynn

Anonymous said...

I hope to get down to Fresno (it's quite a drive from Jenner) to see the shows before they close. So wish I could have seen you and Sandy.
In one of those odd coincidences, Jean Ray Laury's book is somewhere in my shelves along with several of her other books that I began to collect about the same time as you.
I, sadly, have not met Jean...just admired from afar.

Mandy Brannan said...

Hi Leslie,
My name is Mandy Brannan (papermaker)and I took a class of yours in Dallas with my friend Carolyn.
I just looked at the photo of your gathering in Fresno and there is our good friend Joyce Kierejcyk. All three of us have worked on papermaking projects together - small world!!