Bright Lumière, Dark Moon

This past weekend was bloody amazing. One of the best, seriously.

First of all, Lumière was this past Saturday night (Sep 26). It is one of my favorite events. This year, The Unspun Heroes, a local spinning/fibre-working group, and I teamed up for a collaborative project at My Fair Ladies Ethical Emporium.

Our idea was to combine my talents with the talents of The Unspun Heroes to create a multi-disciplinary exhibition that would include community participation. I constructed a big tree, which I attached to the outside of the shop’s window. The plan was for me to draw the inside of the window, in my signature Soulprint style, live throughout the night. My Soulprints would end up representing the leaves of the tree. Meanwhile, The Unspun Heroes would spin fibre.

Lumière yarn, complete with fabric strips, being woven. Photo by Janet Dawson.
Lumière yarn, complete with fabric strips, being woven. Photo by Janet Dawson.

But here’s the thing — they wouldn’t just be spinning fibre. We asked the viewers to write something down on little fabric strips. The viewer could write a phrase, a story element, a wish, a word — they could even write something they saw in my drawings or something they wanted me to draw for them. The spinners would then work their magic to spin the strips into a yarn. The yarn would then be woven into a fabric — the “fabric of the community” — which we will display at the library along with a storybook describing the project and telling its “story”.

And speaking of stories, that’s what the project was all about — writing the “story” of the community. It required audience participation because a community’s atmosphere and history are created by the members of said community. And with all of this talk of community participation and telling stories and fibre work, we called the project “Spinning A Yarn”.

Cute, right?! {:

So the night started off really well. I had headphones on and I was focused on my drawing. Drawing on a window was…interesting. I imagine that it’s like writing on a chalkboard, which I always had a problem with, but drawing is easier for me than writing is, so it wasn’t so bad!

Viewer participation! Photo by me.
Viewer participation! Photo by me.

I was only about, say, a half hour into the evening when a couple girls asked me if they could write on the windows too. I gave them some markers and they drew with me. A couple minutes later, I had some other kids who wanted to draw. And then there were more, and at this point the window was FULL of people! We had to gather together as many markers as we could find and clear the merchandise out of the other window.

Viewer participation! Photo by me.
Viewer participation! Photo by me.

The shop was filled to capacity. We had lines of people waiting to draw on the windows. We had people of all ages, including whole families, going to the windows to put in their contribution. I was supposed to draw the whole night, but the community kind of took over my job!

Drawing on my hand. Photo by me.
Drawing on my hand. Photo by me.

The project seemed to be a hit in a way I never really considered. It was wonderful how it morphed from the original idea to really get viewer participation in the drawing aspect and not just the fabric strips. The only problem was that I had been all geared up to draw all night, that I had the drawer’s itch. I had to resort to drawing on my hand!

Visitor contributions. Photo by me.
Visitor contributions. Photo by me.

To top off the experience, the project across the street featured a band playing live behind frosted windows. People danced outside. The whole thing — the projects, the crowd, the excitement — created a certain kind of energy. It’s like the entire area is filled with crackling electricity and you just feel excited to be alive. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s the same atmosphere I felt when I attended my high school football games with the band to do the halftime show. There’s nothing like that feeling.

Super Full Moon Eclipse photo by Mike Durkin
Photo by Mike Durkin

And if that wasn’t enough, I felt alive Sunday night (Sep 27) too while I watched the lunar eclipse. The wind blew like crazy, but I just bundled up and sat outside watching it. I watched as the moon got a little darker, then looked like someone had taken a bite out of the moon, and then disappeared. I sat outside until the moon had disappeared in Earth’s shadow and had turned a deep red.

Lunar Eclipse 2015 photo by Penny Higgins
Photo by Penny Higgins

It had been many years since I had seen a lunar eclipse, and the first time I watched the entire first half of it. There was something magical about sitting outside, bundled up against the chill, watching my beloved moon turn dark then red, that filled me with immense joy. And all I had to do was walk outside with a chair!

Super Moon Eclipse 2015 photo by Tom Lee
Photo by Tom Lee

Another magnificent experience.

At the end here, I have some thanks I’d like to give out.

To The Unspun Heroes, for being instrumental in making the project spectacular.

To My Fair Ladies Ethical Emporium, for being such gracious, helpful hosts.

To Wendy Bergfeldt with CBC Mainstreet Cape Breton, for interviewing me about the project.

To the Lumière coordinators, for putting on an absolutely amazing event — yet again.

To all the people who visited or participated, for turning the awesome on the project up to 11.

And to Hubby, and the other hubby, for all the brawn, muscle, and support.