Saturday, November 03, 2007

art as inspiration

We Real Cool

My friend Rosemary often uses quotes on her blog that get her readers talking. The felt I saw at SAFF (Southeast Animal Fiber Festival) in Asheville went far beyond what most of us think of when we imagine that "woolcraft" of feltmaking. (For non-fiber arts folk, wool felt has all sorts of everyday uses--it's likely in the trunk of your car, your winter time pea coat and in fedoras, if you own one!)

This, however, was art. Now that I have my photos developed, here are some of the highlights, a few at a time. I can share this image of Becky Walker's work, displayed as part of the Southeastern Felter's Guild.

When can you define something as art? When it inspires you to make connections beyond its own image or scope? When it causes one to innovate or think? Some folks might see this "sheep in shades" as just whimsy, but it was actually sort of serious and dignified when seen up close.

The first thing I thought of when seeing this was a poem that I used when I taught high school in inner-city DC and community college in downtown Buffalo. The poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, indicates that this poem's power is in how it's read and what it means. Look here to the American Poems site for some more analysis on its meaning.

We Real Cool

We real cool. We
Left School. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
--Gwendolyn Brooks

In a way, this answers the last post, about the vandalism of our fence. In practical terms, we (and the cops) can't always catch the person who broke the bottles on our stoop, or pried pickets off our fence. We can keep cleaning and fixing, teaching and mentoring, supporting neighborhood businesses and walking the block with Harry and Sally. We can keep smiling and saying good morning to whoever we meet. Destruction can be equated with some major loss of hope, some posturing (we real cool) or anger. We can, as Alison suggested, install a motion-sensor light, which could literally--and perhaps figuratively--shed some light on a dark aspect to the neighborhood...just as this felted art and this poem shed light and inspiration (a commentary?) on our lives. We too can be, in Hebrew transliteration, Or Zarua, light sown.

Edit: 11/4. When sowing light fails, I call the cops. Last night, when the second group of students kicking recycling bins and destroying pumpkins came up the street, I switched on all the lights, yelled at them myself, got the neighbor's bin out of the street, and asked city dispatch for more neighborhood patrols when the bars let out after 1 or 2 AM. This is just not fun.

4 Comments:

Blogger Nancy said...

...sown on fertile ground to take root. Ah, Gwendolyn Brooks...from my teaching once upon a time, too.

November 3, 2007 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

We had some local bars declared public nuisances and closed down after there was too much of that for too long in the next town over. I can only hope...

November 4, 2007 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Romi said...

Great poem. Great bag.

Yikes. What's happening in your neighborhood these days?!

November 4, 2007 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger annmarie said...

oh, man. what an uphill battle. :/

November 5, 2007 at 8:43 PM  

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