Just before seeing J~ and S~ for our first ElderSparks session in March, I spent the weekend at FiberPhiladelphia2012 — a huge exhibition of international fiber art occurring in galleries and institutions throughout the city. The show continues through March and April, and is well worth a visit: its inspiring array of vision, craftsmanship, materials, and technique is thrilling at every turn. If you go, be prepared to jettison any preconceptions or biases (pun intended). I saw one piece made out of cable ties and oxygen tubing, and others using credit cards, human hair, pins, combs, plastic newspaper bags, x-rays, tires, found objects, coffee filters, and construction fencing. Many would have warranted a “PG” advisory if they were being shown at your local cinema. Among the art forms represented: embroidery, quilting, dyeing, painting, video, knitting, collage, weaving, jewelry, sculpture, and site-specific installations. Plus, Philly is a great walking town.

I wanted to share the experience with J~ and S~, who would have enjoyed it immensely had they been able to go. Instead, I did the next best thing, bringing the exhibition to them in the form of pictures. More importantly, I invited them to do what many of the exhibiting artists had done: repurpose or revision everyday materials we never think twice about. The previous day, I had discovered the artistic potential of Press’n Seal® and crumpled waxed paper — especially in combination with the delicate seed heads of ornamental grasses or fading rose petals. When J~ and S~ saw these elements, they too were intrigued. During our session, they created the pieces below with help from my colleague, Cynthia and me.

(Click on images to enlarge.)


Untitled, S~


 Untitled, J~


Bittersweet, J~


Untitled, Group


I give J~ and S~ lots of credit for being open to new ideas and traveling down paths whose destinations are not always known. Despite their infirmities, they are adventurers still, with imagination and beauty as native guides.