Archive for January, 2008

I’ve always lived somehow in two worlds, with one foot in each. In college, I did a double major (women’s studies and environmental design). In grad school, I pursued concurrent degrees, in management and in urban planning. I lived for years in India but always kept a presence in my native California as well. And now I divide my time between the same California and Milan, Italy where my husband, two cats, and two stepchildren live.

I’m a textile artist… or am I a craftsperson? I never know whether to call myself Freilich, my legal surname, or Rinchen-Wongmo, my Tibetan and “artistic” name.

I’m a contemporary western fiber artist trained in an ancient and sacred Asian tradition. This blog will explore Tibetan (or Buddhist) Art and Textile (or Fiber) Art. (See, even in identifying each of my two parts, I need two labels… Am I a bridge or am I just indecisive?)

Maybe I just need a warp and a weft to make sense of things. I’m not a weaver, though. Not yet, at least. I just work with woven materials. Silks, mostly. Brocades and satins. And I stitch pieces together, by hand, to form images — sacred buddhist images and, more recently, images of real people in the Buddhist sphere of influence.

This blog is about these two: Tibetan/Buddhist Art and Textile/Fiber Art.

The truth is I know very little about either, but I am intimately involved in one particular intersection between the two: pieced silk thangkas, as I like to call them, or appliqué thangkas, as they’re more widely known.

Having completed a four-year apprenticeship with Tibetan artists in India and having made these thangkas my life’s work for the last 15 years, I’m one of very few people in the world familiar with this particular intersection.

Since I also happen to be relatively computer literate, I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging. I’ll endeavor to shine some light on my little street corner, my intersection between textile and Tibetan art, and to take you along with me as I venture sometimes down one road (exploring the origins, significance, and forms of Tibetan art and stitchery) and sometimes down the other (experimenting with new ways to express my vision in cloth).

And where better to start than on an airplane, flying between my two homes? We’re somewhere over Greenland now, flying west from Italy to California…

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