chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

hooked…

DAK untitled 1965 - egg cartonMy mother’s primary medium was paint, but of course she drew in pencil, charcoal, chalk, pastels and ink, and did collage. She made paper, did some printmaking and, for a while, created dense thread “drawings” on the sewing machine. She made some constructions, often humorous, with common objects — an egg carton, rubber bands, a piece of toast. She was tremendously creative, never seemed to lack for ideas, and readily identified herself as an artist.

Throughout my childhood, people had looked at Dorothy’s artwork and asked me, Are you going to be an artist, too? I fought determinedly against it, needing a sharp line of demarcation, afraid that if I did what she did, I would become her.

I went off to college at 17, resolved to save the world. It took me a year as a sociology major and another year of confusion and depression before I changed cities, colleges and majors. Yielding to the artistic urge that had, in my sophomore year, risen up in me like a tide, I transferred to Berkeley, started working in fiber and found my creative medium.

Over the course of several years, I worked my way through the gamut of fiber techniques — weaving on and off loom, basketry, knotting, netting, etc. I taught myself to crochet; there was an ah-ha moment and crochet became my method and then my career. I made and sold my work, did commissions, had shows, taught various fiber arts, and so on.

When my mother asked me to teach her to crochet, I was happy to do so. I had a minimal-technique, no-rules approach that appealed to her. Like her other artwork, her crochet was quirky and colorful.

After a while, she stopped painting and was crocheting exclusively. Some time later, I learned that the art classes she had told me she was teaching were in fact crochet classes. This was a little disturbing. She was blurring a boundary that I had worked most of my life to maintain.

When I was home for a visit, my parents had a few friends over for dinner. I was clearing the table when I heard Dorothy accept a compliment for a basket that was sitting on the sculpture shelf in the dining room. I had made the basket.

I didn’t say anything at the moment, but the next day I said we had to talk, and we did. I told her what I was seeing, what I had heard. She seemed innocent of bad intent, entirely oblivious to her own actions or their effects. As profoundly as I had wanted to avoid becoming her, she seemed unconsciously to want to be me.

To her credit, once she was shown, once we had talked about it with each other, and then with my father, she did not protest, and over the next few months returned gradually and then entirely to her painting.

Saying those things, standing up for myself, was perhaps the hardest thing I ever did.
. . . . .
Photo: Untitled by DAK, 1965, egg carton, watercolor, wood, 10″ x 6″ x 2″

3 responses to “hooked…

  1. OwlMcCloud January 28, 2013 at 9:53 am

    very creative i must say.

  2. Beyond Back Creek January 29, 2013 at 5:57 am

    Really glad you found your own path to art. I appreciate your writing, of all kinds. Wish we could see your crochet here! I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thanks for the inspiration. Melanie

  3. jik January 29, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Thank you so much, Melanie! Actually, if you click on the flavors, frolics or whims tabs (near the top of the page), there’s quite a lot of my crochet among the collected miscellany.

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