I cannot begin to describe how excited I was when I found this catalog in my mailbox. It means finally I can officially announce that June 12-18, 2016 I will be teaching a pysanky class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.
The Folk School is like year-round summer camp for adults in a beautiful farm-like setting but is it so much more than that. They emphasize non-competitive learning in all kinds of different folk arts…from quilting to blacksmithing to cooking, writing, woodturning, and music to name just a few.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there and we loved everything about that experience. I had always dreamed of going back, but going back to teach an egg class is a dream come true.
Got plans for next June? Come on down.
Five days of “playing eggs” with friends old and new, now that is my idea of what heaven is like. I just got back from the Pysanky USA Retreat 2015 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and am still on a pysanky high. Together with 70 other pysanky artists we spent our days giving and teaching classes, hanging out in the play room working on eggs, and catching up on each other’s lives. True community at its best.
This is a far-flung group to say the least. One person came from Japan and not only that, she comes from the same city where I was born. Such a small world, isn’t it? Another spent this last year on the medical ship Mercy Africa in Madagascar. Many folks came from the Northeastern states but we had attendees from the South, the Midwest, the West Coast and also Canada.
Here are just a few photos to give you a taste of my personal heaven.
Back in 2010 I had a solo art show of my eggs in the Art & Soul Gallery of our church. It was a huge leap of faith for me because it was the first time I really connected my art with my walk with God.
It ran throughout Lent, which is traditionally forty days of preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Fasting and prayer often accompany this time of waiting. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. A time of soul-searching and repentance.
As I gave this thought and prayer, I recalled my childhood experiences with Lent. We usually chose to give something up as a reminder to pray and to look forward to the Easter celebration to come. It took a while but gradually words bubbled to the surface to express my Lenten experience. Fasting, prayer, listening, repentance. But the story didn’t stop there. At Easter fasting becomes abundance, prayer becomes hope, listening becomes growth and repentance becomes forgiveness. God’s story of love and transformation became more real now that I had words to express it.
Now I wanted to experience and express visually what that time of preparation meant to me. So the big question…how in the world do I take this colorful, traditional art done on eggs and give the viewer a sense of my own journey of faith? Eventually this thought crossed my mind. What if I gave up the use of color on these eggs? What if I only worked in black and white? My next thought was, “Are you crazy?”
I knew my designs would have to be strong enough to stand alone, without the distraction of color. How in the world do I create interest using only lines? I’d never tried this before and I was pretty sure I’d be able to do a few but could I create enough to fill the whole show? And what if I couldn’t come up with enough material in time? What if I failed? Fear, self-doubt, and a sense of the enormity of this task sidetracked me for a while.
As the days ticked by I kept hearing a soft voice say, “Just make one egg.” So I did.
“That wasn’t so hard,” I thought. And so I made another…and another…and pretty soon the design ideas flowed until chicken, duck, goose, and finally an ostrich egg all in black and white covered every surface of my workroom.
The show looked great in the gallery but I have no idea if anyone understood what I was trying to say with these eggs. And it doesn’t matter because the important part of the show for me was what I learned along the way. Sometimes God doesn’t give you the big picture. Sometimes you just have to start the journey and not focus on the goal. And sometimes you will find a joy in that journey that surprises you.