My Weave Experience

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Posted by Marilyn Helgeson on February 06, 1999 at 14:15:29:

February 6, 1999

Dear Friends of Penny,

This morning I had the pleasure of tea and Penny═s company; a rare treat these days as she prepares for her one woman show at the Claremont Forum. I came away from my time with her armed with a good idea for one of my own projects, determined to avoid superficial thinking as I mulled over participation in a new ´radical center═. I also came away determined to finally act on my promise to put into writing what my experience with ˝Weaving the Dreamţ in Glastonbury, UK last August meant to me.

First of all, it meant preparation. What fabric could I take to England for the ´Weave═ which really represented me right then?

My Uncle Harold, a Cherokee ´Oke from Muskogee═ had just moved into a residential care home after suffering a second debilitating stroke. As the family shut down his home, they sent me my favorite pieces from his wonderful collection of works by Cherokee artists. Honored Woman by Ben Adair Shoemaker is now the centerpiece of my altar. I get up and go to sleep to Dana Tiger═s images of contemporary Cherokee woman. All this very feminine art, reflecting a part of my heritage which I have largely ignored, coming to me from a man I wish I═d taken the time to understand better. Hum. I decide to take a T-shirt which I had purchased at the Tiger family store in Muskogee. It had the image of an Indian woman with an eagle in her hair and was done not by Dana, but by her brother or her father.

Secondly, it meant doing it. I was finding the energy of Glastonbury unsettling, not negative - just unsettling. I was glad that Penny and Barry Sultanoff had arranged for me to be with their friend Peggy Meiklejohn in Glastonbury. Peggy
was also feeling unsettled. (I═m usually a solitary traveler. This time it was nice to have company!) But, when it came time to do the weave, I did it in solitude. I was alone with my own thoughts even as I experienced the community of these people who had come from all over the world. Here I was representing, as I saw it, Native American culture in England. Do my grandmother Mayme and my great grandmother, Susie Walkingstick realize that I have finally acknowledged that they are a part of me?

And, eventually we took it down.

Penny told me that my image of the American Indian crone went home to Australia. (I hope that woman is wearing it to demonstrate an interest in my heritage which is only now coming to me.) I knew from the time we put the weave up, exactly what piece I wanted when we took it down. It is a simple, red scarf from the Gap - different from every other red scarf the Gap sold, because it carries the anger and rage and anguish of a Vietnam era Veteran. Why is this important to me? I think because I missed the real meaning of the late 60s. I was a young wife and mom with my passion totally focused on the microcosm, the family I was creating. I hope that Veteran will sense when I put his scarf/our scarf on some future weave that, for me, its bright red color represents my passionate interest in helping to create a much more compassionate world.

So, friends of Penny═s, I know you understand as I thank her for creating a visual image where I can see who I am in the moment and can weave my dream of a sustainable future for myself, my children, their children and their children═s, children═s, children with your like minded dreams.

And Penny - a big thank you for helping to make all this NOT-Superficial-Thinking fun and visual.

With love from the radical center!


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