Sunday, May 25, 2008

Working it

Yup that’s me on the sweet counterbalance loom, next time I hope to have a picture of one of THEM working it!

The little lady in the background there is my new site mate, and, how cute, both our host moms working on the same piece. About an hour later the rra’isa (president) came in and they (five women) went into another room for the rra’isa to teach them Arabic script. Oh my I was so damn proud! I have no idea when this started or whose idea it was, and though it would be nice to feel like I’ve done something for them, it’s even better to see them doing such good for themselves. Only two of the adult women of the co-op are literate (the president and the treasurer) though almost all speak Tamazight and Darija. It was so sweet to see how excited and proud they were of their little practice pages. Sniff sniff.

And I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, so I’ll say it now- I love this weather! While many other PCV’s are already roasting in their sites, I survived the winter and am now enjoying my reward-beautiful spring weather. It gets greener by the day and in every direction you can see a different kind of sky, never knowing which will pass over. Some light thunder, crazy but short bouts of rain, delicious sun and winds of every sort. I fear next winter as much as I now fear dogs, but I intend to survive both.

Moroccan metaphor-this is proof my minds more here than America- my cat, my baby, my love, well he licks a lot and the first thought that came into my head was not, oh that feels like sand paper, but rather, wow, that feels like a hammam scrubby. This reminded me (as if I needed a reminder) that I could really use a good scrubbing, oh what I would give for a shower right now! My last one was almost a month ago. Yes I bucket bathe, but really. Anyhow, cat tongues feel like hammam scrubbys.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Regaining My Title

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Rumi

I wove! I wove I wove I wove! Have I mentioned how much I love weaving? Oh my Allah do I love weaving. And I’ve been feeling pretty silly for having a blog titled “Bri Weaves” when I’m not. I never again want to go so close to a year without! Oh I am so beyond screwed up mentally, physically, emotionally, and any other –ally’s there are. But I have one thing again. Kind of amazingly obvious now, that I’ve felt so sorely unfulfilled and frustrated lately because I have been doing none of the usual tasks that bring be joy. As Mrs. Post would say, I’ve stopped dancing. Stopped dancing while working in a dance studio that is! Ha! I’ve spun and knit, even drawn a bit here but there is nothing like weaving.

Weaving is this small act of just putting things in order, over and over again a bazillion times, almost like a subliminal act to get myself back in order. I love that I am such a part of each thread so many times. Each thread passes through my hands at least 4 times before I even begin weaving- first while winding the skein off into a ball, second by warping out, third when threading the reed, fourth when threading the heddles, then tying them off on the back beam, brushing them and winding them on, tying them onto the front beam, adjusting tension and naughty rebellious little threads, and, bismillah, commence weaving. Oh I can’t express the satisfaction that comes from just interlocking silly little threads. It’s something I can hold onto. And ever since I’ve been feeling far more at ease, suppose my hysterias been at least partially cured by weaving again.

I always have and always will love plain weave the most, I mean it’s the perfect metaphor-taking every individual and putting them together to form the strongest external bond. In patterns, some threads are weaker, some never even show much; it’s just a different kind of balance. By covering some, others shine a little brighter. Of course I prefer the most solid strength and rather leave it up to the fiber and material combinations to bring it beauty, hmm, think it has anything to do with my life? Ha. But because I am here and want to show the women all that these looms can do, I am rediscovering my love of pattern weaving.

I set up a small counter balance loom half with a simple straight draw and half threaded with mirrored straight draw. I didn’t think there’d be too much I could do with it, but enough to get them started, but wow! I forgot how many options there are in just the simplest tie up! I was soon drafting all kinds of patterns, I couldn’t draft by hand as quick as my head was forming them. Ah, it was like the excitement of sophomore year when I fell into and in love with weaving. Anyhow, the women have been working primarily on command orders on the big metal looms, and the younger members haven’t been coming, so I’ve really only taught one young woman so far. But she was super excited and is going to do pattern weaving on her loom once she weaves off what she has. And my relationship with the Co-op as a whole is getting slowly better, now that they see I am capable of doing something besides sitting there looking confused. Mm, and I’m smiling again.

So now with my little bit o worry as always. I struggle a lot in general, but particularly here in my site with the very obvious clash between old and new ways. The hardest part of my work- the balance between preserving old traditions and bringing the people into the modern world. When I dwell on this it’s just too big handle as it all seems so helpless with the state and pace of our world. But, I’m here and I’m small and I’m trying to work with it. The fact is they do have these amazing European looms so they may as well use them to their capacity. And all except the youngest weave on both the European looms and the wooden floor looms. The youngest are most interested in pattern weaving, and so long as they don’t start making more money, the elders are fine with that. The past two days I’ve been sitting in the foyer of the new building where five of the women are working on two metal looms, just enjoying watching as they work the loom like a harp. So that’s where I stand today, when my mood is calm and cool. Call me tomorrow and I could be in the pits again.

Friday, May 9, 2008


For those that don’t know, I interned with Susan Lordi Marker my senior year of college, who is just about the sweetest and most generous woman I’ve ever met, an incredible textile fine artist as well as the designer of the Willow Tree line for Demdaco. I worked with her on her textiles, some roughs for her new Willow Tree line, did indigo dye and held my senior thesis show in her space. She is amazing and I still can’t thank her enough! Anyhow, she loved my dreads and her new figure, Blessings, is modeled off me. So that’s my moment of stardom! I worked some on others, and thank my Auntie Lillian and Uncle Ernie for modeling for the Anniversary piece. The whole line is great, thank you so much Susan! (thats the Willow Tree mini me on the right)

Speaking of last year, whoa! It’s so crazy to think that this time last year Ashley’s senior show, Chromatic Movements in Structure, had just passed, we were setting up my senior show, Whorl, For Those Dear, and getting ready to graduate! It’s so crazy and doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all. I remember going to all my fellow fiber gal’s and other’s shows, the fireworks in the crossroads district, how Ashley and I got all dolled up, Kay’s painting of that night, all the last minute craziness that graduating entails, and then nearly my whole crazy family flying out to the middle of America for me! Oh it was so awesome. (below are four of my favorite ladies; Susan, Michele, Pauline and Ashley at her show-notice the chromatic movements goin on in the background)

But right now I’m here, and okay with it. I reminiscing and missing but in that remember why I came and that the difficulty is where it needs to be. Despite all my frustrations with the Cooperative, and Morocco in general, if I can read my thesis and still feel it has truth then I know I’m not all jaded and that there is work and a reason for me here.

(above is me setting up my show)

Thesis Statement-

To realize the interconnectedness of Nature, a task too great to fully comprehend, one must develop her own method for working toward the holistic vision. I conclude my time at this institution, and begin my life beyond, with weaving as the greatest metaphor for this interconnectedness. All life is composed of interactions, essentially, the relationship between one element and another. This interaction of elements is process, a seeming chaos without direction, sustained by faith in a foreseen outcome. From chaos to order and back again, the infinite dance. A mess of fibers, combed and drawn together to form one strand, then into a snarl of many strands. These threads are then brought to order in the case of a warp, and further, relate to a weft to form a complete whole, a woven piece.

The metaphor continues as these objects are brought to a new context, for a new purpose. I find that the elements of importance in my life are far simpler and more obvious than ever before, and bring my work to this place. These scarves are given as gifts to certain members of my web of relations. Worn around the neck, an unconscious reminder of connections, disguised as a practical item of body wear for warmth and comfort. I am left with the satisfaction of bringing to the physical world a metaphorical representation of my mind’s sauntering about the workings of the natural world. As naivety grows toward wisdom, so do seemingly unconnected elements grow toward a working unit. A lesson for the future, that every knot may someday become a part of a smooth cloth. That every strand, no matter how small, plays an active role in creating a whole. No element anywhere, no matter how lonely, is by itself. This is my whorl.

And the letter attached to each piece-

May 18, 2007

For those dear,

One day this past September, frustrated and exhausted by my major, and art in general, I sat down at a little loom I had borrowed but never used. I tied on six yards and began to weave. After the first yard or so I stopped caring about what it would be, or what it would mean, or what purpose it would serve. For three hours I just wove. As I wove I was allowed time to relax and reflect. I was at the beginning of my last year of college, had decided to apply for the Peace Corps, and had lost all passion and interest in art.

I began to imagine what life in the Peace Corps would be like, of walking into a completely foreign community, and becoming a part of a new family. This led me to think about my own family, and how close they are to me, though we remain miles apart. The funny thing about goodbyes is, as we all know, they make us thankful for what we have. It is easy to put on hold those we claim to love and care about the most because they always seem to be there. Knowing I am leaving for 27 months has caused me to realize how much I will miss what has always been around me. I had just as easily forgotten the essentials of art, the making. In the frustrating search for meaning in what I made, I had forgotten the making. The product, the purpose, the image, none of it mattered anymore. As I wove I allowed myself to simply enjoy the way fibers and colors come together.

While sitting at the loom, I began to explore the connections between passions, and realized I could have the best of both worlds. I have tried to keep things and I have tried to sell things, but the only satisfaction comes from giving things away. I could work on color and material combinations in the process of weaving, with the end result being a gift for someone else. For those dear to me.

I am not joining the Peace Corps to serve others; I am joining to engage in the global community through the exchange of gifts. Gifts of culture and knowledge and tolerance; peace and happiness cannot exist in the world without smiles and small gifts being continuously shared and passed along. One frown, one lost life, is a broken thread in the woven fabric of life. You all make up the whorl nearest me, and as I step into the next network I will be prepared by carrying the lessons from my life here with all of you.

Giving is never a one sided act. I could say giving is what brings the greatest satisfaction, but it is in the receiving, of smiles and love, that I am truly interested and thankful. Like people, these scarves will grow softer the more they are worn.

I love you all so much, and please enjoy,

Briana Godfrey

(if you want to see pictures I guess you have to be on Facebook, the links I put on here keep expiring and I don’t know of an easier site to post on, sorry!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A need to know basis

My last writing and pictures were sent in an email, so if you didn’t get it email me, and if you don’t have my email then you probably shouldn’t get it anyhow! Teehee. . . I’ll write again soon.

here's a link to some other random pics though, I'll add more to it periodically