Another year is ending, yet the pandemic goes on… Things remain the same, but are also different. Our moods have been going up and down, riding on the waves of available vaccines and new variants. Life almost goes back to what it was before, only to be halted again when a new mutation pops up. The cycles of a global pandemic.
Life in Times of Covid
2021 started with an inauguration and hope. A huge burden was lifted and a collective sigh of relief was felt in the air, at least for some.
At the beginning of the year I was already accustomed to a life of lockdowns and isolation. Our little family cocoon settled into a comfortable routine of distant learning, meal cooking and family movie nights. I was never bored. Gardening, art, yoga, and, of course, my family and friends, provided solace and continuous interest (see my contribution to the Covid Chronicle below). I discovered the wonderful world of on-demand online art classes, and learned from artists from all over the world. I saw virtual exhibitions and listened to recorded artist talks. It was challenging and fun.
In April, vaccines finally became available. Another sigh of relief. Slowly, things started to go back to the way they were “before.” Hesitantly, we began seeing friends in person, still outdoors and distant, but better than nothing. Later, we were able to visit family, and in August the kids went back to in-person school, for the first time in a year and a half. My college student actually left for college, leaving an empty space behind. Then came the Delta strain, reminding us to stay alert.
Returning to the “before” life has had its own challenges. Many months of isolation slowed life down, and learning how to socialize again, how to live with more pressure, chores, obligations has been a learning curve. It’s been several months now, and I’m still adjusting. Things still don’t feel safe, and every situation has to be individually evaluated. We’re all learning, all the time. And now, right when we almost got comfortable again, Omicron is spreading like wildfire all around the globe…
Finishing Unfinished Projects (UFOs)
After years of staring at it, in January I finally rolled my sleeves up and tackled my UFO pile. I counted 58 (!!) projects in that pile, and vowed not to start anything new until I was done with most of them. In the end, it took me over three months to finish the projects that I still cared about. I can’t describe the relief I felt once the pile was gone! My sewing room felt a little more spacious, too…
Most of the projects in that pile were functional pieces. The great majority were bags. By the time I was done, I realized that I really am done. With bags, that is. The Bag Bug has worn off. I felt ready to move on, mostly in the direction of fine textile art. You can read more about my now-finished UFOs here. All of my available functional pieces are currently in my Etsy shop. I do not plan to make more once these sell out, not in the near future, anyway. Needless to say, I’ll be doing my very best not to accumulate another UFO pile going forward…
My UFO pile included fabrics for a spring jacket, which I haven’t actually started. When I stumbled upon them, I decided to go ahead and sew one. The fabrics were simply too pretty to ignore. I machine pieced the outer layer, and then hand stitched it to a lining. It took about two weeks of work, and resulted in a kantha jacket that I wore in spring. You can read about this jacket here.
Art for Fun
In 2021 I continued exploring colors, textures and techniques. I finished a fun series of mini quilts and named it Spark.
I spent a lot of my time in the garden, and so it was no surprise that I was inspired by its wonderous blooms. The colorful Ode to Spring series was all about my garden, as was my mixed media series.
Time in the garden, combined with my determination to finish things up, also resulted in me finally completing the Backyard Critters series, which I started a couple of years before.
Art with a Message
I’ve been thinking a lot this year. About art in general, textile art in particular, my priorities and what I want to spend my time on. I’ve been torn between making art for personal healing and fun, and creating more meaningful pieces that have a deeper message. Increasingly, I’ve been feeling an urgency to do more of the latter. My time is limited, and life has a lot of demands on it. I have very little time left for creativity. Middle aged, I’m starting to feel my mortality, especially with a global pandemic in full swing. Time is short and there’s a lot to do.
The Languishing series described pandemic mood and was utterly improvisational.
But some quilts formed in my head as complete images, and almost forced themselves on me. This was the case with the black, white and red quilts I made this year, which seem to be morphing into an in-progress series that I tentatively call The State of Human. These were all emotionally difficult to make, as they deal with complex topics and strong emotions.
Another quilt that started as a complete picture in my mind, Behold the Future, expresses my growing anxiety about climate change and it’s effects on our lives. The sever drought we’re having in California combined with consecutive years of devastating wildfires really brought this issue to our doorstep, and is literally keeping me up at night.
Lastly, for the last several months of the year I’ve been working on a quilt addressing plastic pollution in the oceans. I hope to finish it today, so you will have to wait for next year to see it 😉
In May 2021 I was honored to be featured in Made in Bed, an online magazine run by students of the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.
In October, two of my pieces, Behold the Future and my kantha-inspired spring jacket were juried into the Pacific International Quilt Festival and exhibited there. My very first quilt show!
That same month, my Ashes textile collage was juried into the RePurposeful exhibition organized by SCRAP. The exhibition was displayed at the Randall Museum in San Francisco. Ashes sold on opening night, and I am excited to report that all proceeds went to support upcycling, something I am very passionate about.
- For the foreseeable future, I think I am mostly done with functional art.
- In the coming year I hope to be able to take more classes and expand my skill set. I have lots of ideas and want to have a wider array of technical skills with which to bring them to life.
- As I’ve done so far, I want to keep experimenting with new techniques and ways of doing things. Even if that means I will not have a recognizable “style.”
- Mark making and surface design (and perhaps fabric dyeing) will be a top priority.
- I hope to make art that means something, though I know that fun, playful art is important, too. Balancing the two will be a challenge!
- I aim to create at least some larger pieces, because although I enjoy working small, my recent exhibition experience taught me that size does matter.
I’m not sure what will come next, but I’m excited to find out. This creative adventure has been anything but boring! Thank you so much for being a part of it.
Thank you, Zwia, Your words and projects inspire me in the New Year.
Happy New Year, Belinda! I hope 2022 will bring lots of health and creativity!
What a wonderful, realistic, intuitive and amazingly creative person you are. I first found your Boro-style Jacket made with patches of your late father’s jeans. An emotional and inspiring project borne out of love and grief. That led me to visit your blog… and I was blown away by your talent. I hope all of your plans and dreams for this new year are fulfilled and that you continue to find happiness and contentment in your artworks. You will certainly bring much happiness to others with your creativity.
Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope 2022 will be good to you as well, and to all of humanity–the last couple of years have taken a great toll. Here’s to a healthy, joyful, and creative New Year!