Having a shop and being an artist can be challenging at times. But there are other moments that just blow your mind at the impact you have in the world and the lives you touch. I had a moment like this just recently that was amazing!
Chris is a very talented artist who does needle and wet felting, making all kinds of things with a focus on felted mittens. She came in a few months ago and told me about a project she was going to do with her staff. I suggested she nuno felt the project, a larger landscape wall hanging. She picked out a navy/gray prefelt and some pretty, vibrantly dyed merino top and she was on her way.
Well she came in with show and tell and let me tell you, I was blown away! Her team of about 6 or 7 was skeptical at first at her creative team building activity. Several people confessed a lack of skill and creativity. She made it very approachable for them, laying out the background for them. They then designed the colors and created the sky and the river. The prefelt was cut into the buildings of the skyline and laid on top. This was then wet felted and everyone got involved in the rolling process. Laughs and smiles were shared as they bonded in this creative process. When it was unrolled for the last time and unveiled, the feeling of pride and amazement was shared by all. Chris added the stitching and dozens and dozens of hot-fix crystals to the piece. It really makes the little details pop and gives those Chicago architectural highlights definition.
What makes this piece even more intricately involved is the fact that Chris works for a department of the USDA, in Chicago, and Esther's Place was born out of a USDA Rural Development grant back in 2016. Ten years ago we dreamed of merging the worlds of art, agriculture and education. Ten years later, fiber art has found its way into the lives and hearts of so many, and now, the staff of the USDA itself! Local wool will be decorating the walls of the USDA office in Chicago, and they are even talking about doing another project. This next project would have a more agricultural bend to it.
How inspirational is that? There is nothing that drives a point home like being able to actually experience something for yourself. Here I got to observe it in action, and see a full circle come around. It's been ten years of hard work and dedication to the cause, but I am so thrilled be a part in change. It all begins with a sheep, some skylines and ends with smiles.