INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
In 1988, she gave me a copy of the unique "South Galactic Pole" photograph by Tony Tyson, saying: "Why don't you make a needlepoint of this, Aunt Jan?"
She knows I like to encode esoteric messages -- which only the Gods can read or, in this case, astronomers -- into my needlepoints.
The "content," as well as the visual beauty, of the photograph thrilled me: Most of the silver/white spots seen here (in the blue) are not our stars. They are other galaxies as seen through a "hole" in our galaxy near the South Galactic Pole.
I kept wondering how to convert seemingly random white spots on a black background into an interesting pattern or design, and continued to carry the photograph in my "book of ideas" for several years.
In 1990 I met Ruth Anderson in Berkeley, California while she was xeroxing her exquisite handkerchief collection. I showed her some of my Needlepoints as well as the South Galactic Pole photograph. "Why not use it as background," she suggested. Ever notice how often exciting and/or arduous tasks are initiated by a casual remark? Suddenly I saw a dark blue sky filled with pattern and meaning surrounded by an intricately coded red field. For a long time I had wanted to do a variation on the Oriental rugs with dark, "empty", usually blue, centers and red-brown "frames." Indeed, I had started to explore this in the (missing) CHINESE CHAIR needlepoint. It was to have maroon/red frames around deep blue backgrounds in the main and two side panels.
I began work on PALIMPSEST in January, 1991 as I listened to the Senate debate prior to the Gulf War. First, I floated a few OMs. Then I asked Suzanne to mark the stars/galaxies which would make it an unmistakable reference to Tyson's picture. These I stitched in with light colors and a silver thread (I had found some years before on the street in the City of the Angels). To give the "sky" depth, I shaded it darker toward the center, adding purple stitches in allusion to the hundreds of "stars" I had not used in the piece. Along the long edges of the sky is a pattern of blue geese flying north and flying south.
The patterns in the blue sky and first red border are borrowed from the KALACHAKRA.
In the second red border, the twenty-eight Chinese constellations are stitched. Their names are in the "coffered" border just beyond it.
At each of the diagonal corners are flying cranes in red, their design taken from a toilet paper wrapper I saved during a 1980 trip to China. The cranes are part of the sky by their nature, but part of the "soil" by their color.
These, and many other references, are the "palimpsest": designs stitched beside/over/around one another -- meanings accumulating as one "reads between the lines."
In 1996 I again took up an astronomy theme. This time in conjunction with my patterning of North Indian Classical music. Behind the main structure of the TEN THATS I have began to stitch in the galaxies from the Hubble Deep Field photograph, a copy of which was, again, given to me by my niece.
Though my taste for simplicity in color remains strong, and Palimpsest looks primarily red, blue and white, there are actually fifteen different colors in it -- sixteen if one counts the two dye lots of dark blue. It's also the first work in which I used Appleton wool. The stitching was completed just before the 1992 Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. I remember the just-completed piece sitting on the mantle in Karen Arthur and Tommy Neuwirth's home in Malibu framed by their wooden funerary sculptures, Taus-Taus from Trajaland in Sulawasi, an Indonesian island.
The cranes were enhanced and modified with silk thread in 1995.
Below is the 1984, fourteen-hour exposure of the "South Galactic Pole" taken in Chile. It is shown here with the permission of Tony Tyson/Lucent Technologies, and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory
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