Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Farewell Howard Zinn

He was a beloved teacher of mine when I went to Boston University. I read his book "A People's History of the United States" from cover to cover, never missed a lecture and worked in the Little Flags Theater company under the direction of his friend and cohort, Maxine Klein. Klein directed Zinn's "Emma" (about Emma Goldman, perhaps my greatest hero - she stood up for women, and despite being ugly by conventional standards, had many lovers; she defended the workers of this country and had the backbone to follow her convictions even when they caused her to be deported back to Russia.) I was in awe of him - the way he made us laugh and think and do; how he turned the biggest regret of his life, dropping bombs from planes during WWII) into a mission that would have a positive effect on so many. Even though he was 61 at the time, I had a huge crush on him and when he invited me to lunch to hear about my trip with Little Flags to what was then the USSR, I was in heaven and wore my "intellectual sweater." This was to make up for any stuttering I was likely to do. I adored him: his wit, his courage, his commitment to telling the truth. Though he was denied pay raises at Boston University because of what he taught in his lectures, though he was thrashed by the right wing of the press, he never stopped moving forward. I was sure he would move forward past 100. Like Moses, say. But instead, his time came now, too soon for me. But perhaps he was tired after all. May he rest in the peace he has always stood for.

I do not lecture about peace as Professor Zinn did. I hope to move people through the arts. For years it was in the performing arts and through the written word. Now it is more visual. Instead of creating works depicting the horrors of our world as we know it today, I am hoping to regain a child's perspective; something pure, simple, and magical. I am hoping that from there I as well as my audience and folks who purchase my work can dissolve the rage and the paralysis of fear and find the will and imagination to make positive change reality.

Images from "Return to Innocence" on display at Cafe Carolina, Encino CA Feb 6 - Mar 31

Preparing, preparing!

I'm, in only the most loving way possible, poking the what not out of wool in an effort to finish all my sculptural wool painting pieces on time for my February 6th opening of "Return to Innocence" at Cafe Carolina. I'm emailing everyone who I think should be invited, Facebooking them, tweeting them, calling...taking a break to do some wet felting for a customer and beginning another special order of matching steeds from my shop, fulfilling donations that I signed up for and looking for the vacuum,  so my house does not fall into further disarray...all in time to pick up my beloved little girl from the Kindergarten later. Good luck! Sometimes, balancing the administrative, the artistic and the family aspect of my life and hoping to achieve the best results in all, feels like I'm reaching for heaven and it is just one width of a lock of wool fleece beyond my finger tips! And yet I know if I keep reaching, keep stretching, I will get there.

 "Reaching Heaven" by Rebecca Varon
Sculptural Wool Painting

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bridge to the art world! Is it clay, metal, stone? No, it’s wool.

Building a bridge from the craft world to the art world takes softer footing, softer materials, softer application, except for the stabbing. I’m talking about fiber art. The kind I engage in is done not with a sewing needle, but with a felting needle. Creating works of art is done through thousands of pokes with this very pointy, barbed needle through wool fleece, aka the stuff that is later spun into yarn.  Working with this material, I swirl colors together in a very Impressionistic way to create figures and wall hangings, which I coined, “Sculptural Wool Paintings.” My canvas is wool, my paint is wool.
Needle felting  or felting in general, has long been established as a craft. You can find craft supplies and shops selling the finished goods all over the web. What you may not often find is needle felting in the category of fine art. And yet, the beauty, the texture, the imagery is easily comparable to paintings and sculpture. It’s just a paradigm shift…a soft, fuzzy, vibrant and natural one!