About Memories … and the Creative Process

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Santa Barbara, California – Summer 2001. My husband was a guest scientist at the university for a few months, and I planned to attend meetings of the local guild of handweavers. All went well in our small rented apartment at a walking distance from the beach.

On one of those “empty days” in a home away from home, I felt eager to visit the area and especially the ocean shore. I even planned to pick up a seashell or two as a matter of collecting enjoyable souvenirs for later inspiration. Of all expectations, I discovered a new world of graceful and polished forms: a huge amount of driftwood! I was surprised by the unexpected side of natural beauty and started to collect stylish samples for future decorations on avant-garde tapestries. Suddenly, I remembered the return flight difficulties and half of my selected driftwood collection found its way back to its native premises.

Disappointed but still holding the remaining best choice of driftwood, it was clear that inspiration does not rely on “quantity” but on “quality” in any case. If so, I was ready to start my way back home and figure out acceptable tapestry possibilities, if not bright creations. The ritual that precedes every creative momentum kept me concentrated on futile technical details when the “overall effect” was obviously the main problem. This intensive and very enjoyable game of imagination prevented me from looking around.

There was indeed a slightly unusual aspect along the main street, and the same trees looked now decorated with black strips of thin plastic ribbon overlapping each top. Instantly I wondered why black ribbons and not red or blue ones. Still walking on my way home, I noticed more of the same symbols of grief even around the trunk of some trees. Intuitively, I guessed it was a significant case of local, spontaneous grief.

The clue to the black ribbon mystery came from the radio that disclosed the sad truth: it was the terrible disaster of Nine-Eleven in New York City had taken place just hours before, and the day of my discovery-trip to the ocean shore. It was unbelievable and the sorrow was hard to bear. With time acting as a healer, I was surprised to receive a most welcome issue of the Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot magazine announcing a coming international exhibition: Convergence 2002, in Vancouver, Canada. The conditions of participation were not too difficult as each piece had to be inspired by the Pacific Ocean. I decided to participate, and the process of creation started all over again. Yet I felt that a “commemorative piece” was a must…What possibilities would contribute to this double end? A sad project might not fit an exhibit entitled “Sea Strands” and the jury would reject my submission…

Life kept going on and this is how the dilemma was solved, quietly and deeply heartfelt. First of all, I called my work “Seashore Gems”. My tablet-woven band was mounted on driftwood from Santa Barbara and I used small found objects from the Ocean as decorations. To my great surprise, “Seashore Gems” was accepted and exhibited at Convergence 2002, in Vancouver, Canada and both my husband and I were present at the opening event.

On the other hand, I admit that “Seashore Gems” was also a “commemorative piece,” again in a heartfelt manner. My conscience dictated the discreet ways needed for this purpose and in this case, “Seashore Gems” included NINE decorations, reminders of my past visit to Santa Barbara: a single sea-shell, a rusted metallic button, an ancient glass chip, a ceramic shard, fan-shaped tufts of plant fibers and more.

As for the central tablet-woven cotton band, here again, NINE upright rows of full-size waves are running down in different color settings. A double effect is shown in shape and in meaning: waves that belong to the Ocean and the same elongated waves like tears, those that would wash off a bit of the sour remains of this disaster. Finally, ELEVEN of my fondly remembered driftwood findings serve as a solid background and are meant to convey solid hope and optimism.

© 2019 by Aviva Peres

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