INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
This pillow, designed for a Chinese Chippendale Chair, represents a marriage of many cultures. On this side, the pillow is bordered with a pattern suggested by a Bokhara rug.
The outline of the central design, stitched in red, green and white, is based on the bhupura, which represents a sacred enclosure with portals in both Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.
In this case, the bhupura was based on a Tibetan yantra.
Within the bhupura, the lotuses, green bird and red swan were inspired by Egyptian motifs.
The background within the bhupura is from a Minoan pattern
done in long bargello and continental stitches.
The background outside the mandala is from an Italian Renaissance pattern using the tent, bargello and double leviathan stitches. Phyllis Luger's PATTERNS FROM THE PAST served as a jumping off point for several of these patterns.
On the other side of the pillow are variations on the Chinese longevity symbol.
The colors were inspired by my first experience of the lushness of a New England summer.The longevity symbol was adapted from a picture of a carpet in Feddersen's CHINESE DECORATIVE ART.
Entirely needlepointed, the pillow took two years to finish. From then on, as I became fascinated with the idea of improvising the designs, i.e. making them up as I go along -- depending on karma, serendipity, fate to bring me the right element at the right time -- I have used only the continental stitch.
Later on, I began to alternate the slant of the stitches within various areas of a design, not only to keep the canvas "square," but to give the surface a texture which I like much better than the flat, textureless expanses in so many "by the rules" needlepoints. Varying the slant of the stitches gives a greater variety of sheens and elements to create richer surface designs and encode meaning -- as in the slant of the stitches in KAIDA IN TINTAL.Tabla Covers. I also consistently use the "continental" stitch in all four directions. In conventional terms this means as the continental stitch is done in different directions it becomes different stitches, the half-cross stitch, the basket stitch, etc., again giving a variety and texture that further enhances the surface texture.
The section of GREEN PILLOW that binds the two sides together, was entirely needlepointed as well. Then the three sections were needlepointed together. When I look back and realize that this was only my third needlepoint, I am once again reminded that what one is good at, what one is "meant" to do, often takes no training, no practice, you, as the Zen Masters say: "Just do it"-- like life. No one gets to practice living before they're expected to do it.
What often seems to puzzle archaeologists -- when they dig up "high art" which seems to have no precedents, no predecessors, no preliminaries of generations practicing, getting their PhD's so to speak, before they get up to speed -- is no mystery to me. Some arts and some people seem meant for each other. Extraordinary creations spring into being as suddenly as darkness is eliminated by the light. A great deal of art, like life, is not meant to be a problem, but a pristine exuberance, joy and delight, a dance with the act of creation.
At times, a person may be practicing one art and having little success in making the thing they want to make or creating the beauty they can envision, while they have a "hobby" on the side. And this "other art" that they think little of and do in their spare time "by accident," is exquisite, forceful, unique. Probably because it is done with the relaxation, pleasure and "all-at-once-ness" that characterizes creation.
In the modern world, we very often confuse "scholarship" with art. Modern art has become such an intellectualized game, that we're frequently asked by the curators and the critics to ignore the fact that the artifacts themselves are often awful.
Too often it is the pressure to make money, earn one's living at one's art, or "win competitions" that makes for the sterility and idiosyncratic, forced bizarreness which characterizes so much of the art of the latter half of the twentieth century. Which is not to say one doesn't work hard at one's "hobby" art. But most of the work becomes pleasure. One simply doesn't notice the effort.
Doing what you love and only later learning that it is "art," may be the surest way of making true art.
The GREEN PILLOW has been in use every day of its life except for the rare occasions on which it has been exhibited. By now, it's texture is soft and delicious, the colors are mellowed. It is an object of delight to see and to feel.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
II The Unicorn
III Green Pillow
VI Chinese Chair Pillow
VII Great Grandmother's Legacy
VIII Octagonal Beanbag
IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag
X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini
XI Asian Diary #2
XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag
XIV Eye of Horus Amulet
XV Erika Sachet
THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF
NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
IXX Tintal Coin Purse
XX Kaida, Tabla Covers
XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers
XXIII The Ten Thats