Trickster Crow at 3rd Thursday Art Show

Three days ago, I was at the Third Thursday Art Show in Springfield, IL. It’s quite possibly my favorite function on the planet. Every month (the 3rd Thursday of each month, thus the name), local artists from in and around Springfield gather together to show their art, mingle with the public, and generally have a good time. There are live bands at every show, which adds to the atmosphere and, I think, brings everything together. It’s inspiring how the local arts community is close knit and supportive of each other. I’ve even been known to sit at a table and sew on some easily portable project at these events…

Elizabeth Ross' wonderful 3T cozies...

Another great thing about these shows, is that the range of art is not just limited any one medium. While paintings are more common (and there are some very talented painters in Springfield, IL), I have also seen some knitting and crochet on display. Elizabeth Ross made some very cool crocheted hats, potholders and drink cozies. :::throws fist in the air playfully:::  Textile/Fiber Represent!

And so it was, while I was sitting at a table, listening to the live music and soaking up the awesomeness of this atmosphere, that I witnessed what was quite possibly the coolest display of live costume/ theatre art I’ve seen with my own eyes to date. There was no warning and no introduction. He just showed up, passed through, and disappeared without a sound. (I’ve heard a couple people mention a flyer or something about it, but I never saw it.) He was, Trickster Crow.

"The Trickster Crow meets Jeff Williams as Felicia Olin looks on under Ryan Sponslers's latest painting." Photo and Caption Quote credited to Ted Keylon

He (or possibly she, as I’m unaware of the identity of the person behind the beak) slowly and silently made his way through the crowd, handing out sunflower seeds. I later found out these were “seeds of knowledge” that he gave unto anyone that would have them. (I’m now happy to say I ate all 3 of the seeds he gave me.)

Not only was this a very cool, mysterious experience. But, I am in complete and total appreciation of the costume. I do not know who made it, but it’s amazing! I love all the symbolism and representation.. crows and ravens carry this kind of sense of dread, but they are intelligent and being creatures of the sky, they can see everything and so even have a slight foresight. Also, he’s wearing a trench coat. Trench coats also have this association with mystery and danger… you find classic detective characters wearing them, I recall David Boreanaz’s character, Angel -a vampire- wearing one, and then there is the trench coat mafia. Fear of the Unknown, Foreshadowing, Intrigue, Mystery, Danger… so many concepts and feelings are tied into this work…  and then the total surprise of it which left art show attendees talking about it afterward. Trickster Crow, you have my awe as well as my utmost respect and recognition.

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Thoughts About: Embroidered Textiles by Sheila Paine

A couple of posts back, one of my readers gave me what has been perhaps the nicest compliment I have been paid to date. She commented upon the amount of thought and research I put into my posts, and that really made my day.  I am always reading and doing research on different textile traditions, DIY procedures, symbolism, etc. I thought I might give an overview and share a few of my thoughts on what I feel are some of the more influential works I have encountered. I will henceforth call this category of posts “Thoughts About”.

The last couple of weeks I have been reading Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine. I borrowed a copy from my local library, but after having read it, I will certainly be purchasing a copy to add to my bookshelf for continual reference.
This book is full of brilliant, stunning photos and information about embroidery from around the world. She breaks the information down into 4 chapters.

The first of these is “Guide to Identification” which breaks down major traditions by region and points out key identifying elements of the embroidery work. I have to give her props for including a brief mention of Hmong (which she refers to as Miao… which is indeed another name, but by and large they prefer to be called Hmong) and their work, which I wholeheartedly admire.

Chapters two and three, “The Decorative Power of Cult” and “Religion and its Patterns” respectively, deal with symbolism within embroidery as it relates to the divine and otherworldly. Both chapters look at meanings and how some of the representations have changed through time.  The only real difference between the chapters is that “cult” refers to earlier objects of worship such as the sun and the goddess and significant events like hunting, whereas “religion” is meant to refer to major religions as we know of them them today with their rules and structure, such as Christianity and Buddhism.

The final chapter, “The Magical Source of Protection”, looks at decoration as charm or talisman. Locations of stitchwork, beads or trinkets that are added into the embroidery, even the colors used all have a function and a meaning.

I love this book because it is such a rich source of information on symbolism and communication within textiles around the world… everything that I am interested in and that this blog serves to discuss. I will likely be referencing this book again and again in the future. 🙂