Archive for December, 2008

Textile art triptich by Silvie Umiker

Textile art triptych by Silvie Umiker

Today was my first free day to leave Milan in over a month, and what fun I had with it!

I took the train to Lugano. Only an hour away, but I felt like a traveler again. Something about trains makes me feel free and adventurous.

Lugano is always a pleasant experience. Only an hour from Milan but worlds away. Today the pleasure was enhanced by good company and inspiring art.

Four artists have created a fascinating group exhibition, demonstrating both unity and diversity in their collected works. Bea Bernasconi, Marlis Egger, Nina Novikov Brown, and Silvie Umiker are four Ticinese artists who work in textiles. The exhibition, entitled Contrasti (Contrasts) is their first together. It is hosted by the Banca Coop in Piazza Cioccaro 3, Lugano as part of their Eva program for women.

Having met all four women at textile art courses and festivals, I knew they were a creative bunch. But the show exceeded my already high expectations. Silvie patiently guided me through the exhibit, answering my questions and offering both conceptual and technical explanations of the works. We spent almost two hours wandering through the array of colors and textures, and I’m ready to go back for more.

The show is organized by colors and shapes — both contrasting and harmonizing simplicity and complexity, round and rectangular, full and empty, essential and ornamental. Silvie’s work with rusted iron is especially fascinating — layering metal and cloth, blending hard and soft.  All four women show a versatility of technique and an ability to adapt to a variety of materials and ideas. Their enjoyment in playing with the color, form, and texture of their materials is evident. I’m inspired and humbled by what they’ve created.

The exhibition is open to the public during bank hours, from 8:30 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 16:30, Monday through Friday, through January 9. A must-see for all art lovers and certainly an eye-opener for anyone who thinks a quilt is something to put on the bed!

For info, email contrasti@marlisegger.ch or telephone +41 79 6802932.

From left to right, works by Nina Novicov Brown, Marlis Egger, Silvie Umiker, and Bea Bernasconi

From left to right, works by Nina Novicov Brown, Marlis Egger, Silvie Umiker, and Bea Bernasconi

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Endangered Tibetan art form

blossoms in Italy

Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:42am EST


By Barbara Cornell

MILAN (Reuters Life!) – She left for Dharamsala, India, as an economic and community development volunteer and emerged nearly nine years later as master of a rare Tibetan art form, the fabric Thangka.

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo painstakingly transforms horse hair, fine silk thread, colorful Indian silk fabrics and luscious brocades into traditional depictions of Tibetan Buddhas. A single work takes four months to a year-and-a-half to complete.

Four of her traditional Buddhas and two Tibetan-inspired modern textile pieces are on display in Milan until December 19 at the show “Silk Mosaics: Sacred Images and Techniques from Tibetan Tradition.” Showings can be arranged through January 4.

Rinchen-Wongmo is also the subject of “Creating Buddhas,” a documentary released this fall that will be shown January 18 at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, Calif., which hosted a large exhibition of her work in 2002.

“I never decided to do this,” she said at the Centro Mindfulness Project in Milan, where her work is on display. “When I saw it, it just took me.”

She first saw a crafts center producing fabric Thangkas while touring Dharamsala as part of an economic development team. The intricate, richly colored Buddha tapestries are used in ritual spaces like altars and temples but are so rare that even many Tibetans have never seen one.

Through persistence and luck, perhaps fate, she was allowed to train with a Tibetan master, perfecting delicate stitches amid swarming flies drawn by the raw meat juice smeared on the silk to stiffen it. She now uses a cellulose and acrylic mixture.

She spent a year just learning to embroider eyes.

Sixteen years after that first encounter, Rinchen-Wongmo, 48, is now one of a handful of women fabric Thangka masters and one of the few masters outside Asia. Married to an Italian, the California-born artist lives in Milan and Los Angeles.

She begins by making a drawing in traditional proportions to prepare a template for her bits of cloth. She gives contour to fabric shapes by appliqueing round threads made from three strands of horsehair wrapped in fine silken thread. She sews the shapes together and finishes with a brocade frame.

Rinchen-Wongmo, who uses a Tibetan name meaning “precious, empowered woman,” works on commission so rarely assembles her far-flung Thangkas into a show. Eleven appear on her website, www.silkthangka.com. For exhibition details, visit “Exhibition in Milan” on her blog: stitchingbuddha.wordpress.com.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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Take a look at this:

Around the world in 30 colors

Wow! I love it. I know nothing about this blog or blogger but I feel richly nourished as I scroll down the page. Drinking in this BOUNTY of colors, I feel full, at home, happy. Wow!


The original post is on Environmental Graffiti and was written and assembled by Linda McCormick. Thanks Linda!

Here are a few colorful photos from my own collection (some are mine, some are Francesco’s). Mmmm…. They don’t rival the ones on that blog, but they’re still cool!

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▸ noun:  generosity evidenced by a willingness to give freely
▸ noun:  the property of copious abundance
▸ noun:  something given generously

▸ adjective:  producing in abundance (“The bountiful earth”)
▸ adjective:  given or giving freely (“Bountiful compliments”)
▸ adjective:  ample abundant

As Forrest Gump said, Life is like a box of chocolates...

As Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates..."

December is word-of-the-year month on Christine Kane’s blog. Guest bloggers are writing about their experiences with their word for 2008. I thought I’d take the occasion to introduce my word for 2009: BOUNTY.

You can read about the word-of-the-year here.

It’s a kind of cleaner, deeper, intention-oriented twist on New Year’s resolutions. Setting an intention for who we want to BE during the year rather than assigning ourselves a to-do list.

This word came to mind a few months ago while I was setting my intention for Christine’s e-seminar. It felt right then and it feels right now, as the word to accompany me through the coming year. Already it’s helped me to emerge from the constricted place I’d somehow fallen into. Over the last few months, my horizons have expanded. A sense of possibility and strength has opened up in me.

Partly, I just like the sound of this word, BOUNTY, and the fact that it’s not a commonly used word. First, the adjective, “bountiful,” came to me. But I find the noun more powerful as an intention. It serves as a beacon, a guiding light, rather than any kind of admonition or a quality that I’m supposed to develop or adhere to.

“Abundance,” a more common word, doesn’t feel as rich and full to me.

For me, BOUNTY takes abundance in every direction — to having, enjoying, receiving, producing, providing…

There’s the bounty the world provides me and the bounty I offer to others. And there’s simply the bountiful nature of life and being.

Taking this word as my companion for 2009, I intend to expand my appreciation for the riches my life presents every day AND to expand my capacity to give abundantly, with no sense of scarcity or risk of running out. Recognizing the bounty of my life inspires gratitude for everything that has been “given” to me so generously. Making choices from a place of bounty rather than scarcity may bring a new freedom.

I could easily have chosen “clarity” as my word for 2009, because a lack of clarity has characterized my last few years. I’ve faced and am still facing big unanswered questions like “where will I live (and even on which continent)?”, “what will I do (with my life)?” “where is my relationship going?” It seems like every aspect of my life has been called into question and there’s no stable base anywhere on which to prop the other pieces. I’m yearning for clarity.

Still, as I sit with all this uncertainty and indecision, it seems that underlying the whole mess has been a tendency toward black-and-white thinking — this or that, here or there, time running out, time wasted, wrong choices made, doors closed…

I’ve had trouble making decisions. I’ve felt stuck, tentative, like I couldn’t move until some choice was made. There was only one right way and my job was to find or identify it. But I didn’t feel capable.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I’d created a false problem. Who said I had to choose a or b, to do this or that, to live here or there, to get what I want or feel miserable? BOUNTY helps me to break out of these illusory walls. I have so many riches, so much joy, plenty of possibility. And no matter what choices I make, that abundance remains. I can’t screw it up. I don’t have to be afraid. If one person won’t accept my kindness, there are millions of others to give it to. If one decision leads to trouble, I’ll make another.

In 2008, I began to expand again, to allow, to open up to the possibility of things looking completely different from how I’d planned. And it’s bought me to the place of intending BOUNTY in every sphere for 2009. In the space of abundance, in the space of all that IS rather than the space of either/or, “clarity” as I’ve imagined it may become irrelevant. We’ll see… I look forward to the great bounty of 2009 with my arms and eyes wide open.

Have a bountiful day!

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