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Lever House and Laos, linked by a dream symbol

14 Jun
Carol Cassidy

Carol Cassidy

On April 14, I was struck by the synchronicity of discovering that Carol Cassidy was here in New York, halfway around the world from where her traditional weaving company, Lao Textiles, is based in Vientiane. It was just a couple of weeks after I had first heard of Cassidy while reading online about Laos, which I was doing because I’d been contacted by someone based there, a friend of my late friend Nicole Carstens.

A Weaves of Cambodia weaver

A Weaves of Cambodia weaver
(photos from Weaves of Cambodia)

Immediately after seeing the calendar listing on the 14th for Cassidy’s appearance at the Asia Society, I hurried into Manhattan to meet her. Later that day, I wrote a post about her and the “meaningful coincidence” I had experienced.

Unexploded land mine (Photo from CSHD)

Unexploded land mine (Photo from CSHD)

That post included some information I learned about her after meeting her. The post mentions that Cassidy also runs a textile workshop in Cambodia, Weaves of Cambodia, which employs local residents who have had limbs amputated after being injured by land mines still buried in the countryside from the war in Vietnam and the Cambodian civil war.

A few days later, I emailed Carol Cassidy to tell her the post was up, and she replied on April 17 with this observation:

So much of our traditional weaving is animist imagery. They are complex designs and have layers of meaning. I have come to believe that many of the designs are graphic depictions of dreams, dreams shaped by beliefs and how the weaver interprets the universe. Most Lao see this world and the spirit world directly linked. I often refer to the complex brocade imagery, like the noble Siho or the agile climbing monkey that represent this link as “Woven Dreams.” Lao-Tai weaving is about as close to dream imagery in weaving as you can get. Creating these woven masterpieces, thread by thread has helped me understand the thoughts and beliefs of their creators. Continue reading

Spring color quest (3): Finally, an explosion of color

2 Jun

(Read the first and second installments.)

Excuse the cliché, but it’s precise in the case of the dream I’ll tell later in this post as I wrap up this three-part color quest.

Colombia (CIA World Factbook map)

Colombia (CIA World Factbook map)

A good place to hunt for color would be New York’s flower district, although I haven’t been there lately. But watching, on April 17 and 18, a travel brochure–type DVD about Colombia from the library, I learned that a significant portion of the flowers sold in New York come from that South American country. Several Colombian distributors displayed at the World Floral Expo trade show at Jacob Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan.

I learned from the DVD that the Colombian flower trade is old enough to have folkloric customs, among them the silleteros, “artisans who carry elaborate flower arrangements known as ‘silletas’ on their backs as they parade through the streets during Medellin’s annual Flower Fair held in August,” to quote Colombia Reports. Silleteros came to New York to “parade through the streets of Manhattan in New York…as part of the Latin American Folkloric Dance Festival” in 2009. Of course, I missed both the 2009 visit (maybe there’ve been more since?) and the trade show, but I’ve found more about silleteros on the site of Human Flower Project, a nice discovery in its own right (“an international newsgroup, photo album and discussion of humankind’s relationship with the floral world”). HFP explains: Continue reading

Spring color quest (2): Pluralistic color

1 Jun

(Read the first installment, “March flowers brought May showers.”

My next ventures in search of color tended toward more pluralistic sources than Macy’s or Merriam-Webster, 3M Post-it Notes or an educational institution the size of New York University.

For a more heartfelt depiction of Brazilian color than the Macy’s flower show could offer, the next day (March 31) I finally checked out of the library a DVD I’d been seeing on the shelf for many months, Colors of a Creative Culture, by David Zucker.

Continue reading

Stickwork

18 May
Stickwork, by Patrick Dougherty

Stickwork, by Patrick Dougherty

Saw this book. Stickwork, by Patrick Dougherty, when I stumbled upon a Dick Blick Art Supplies store on Bond Street between Broadway and Lafayette recently. I don’t know how long it’s been there.

The book caught my eye because I’d seen one of Patrick Dougherty’s installations in, I guess, 2010. He created it for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s 100th anniversary. I love this, although at first I was ambivalent: Continue reading

The Nieuw Amsterdam of “Mad Men”

11 Apr

Returning for a moment to my Dutch fascination because of the upcoming International Association for the Study of Dreams’ 2011 conference in the Netherlands…a small synchronicity:

Back in January, when I was in the midst of sending out emails announcing Robbie Bosnak’s “Nieuw Amsterdam and the Golden Age” talk, I watched episode 4 of Mad Men‘s first season (on DVD). The episode title is “New Amsterdam.” It emerges in the story line that Pete Campbell, the obnoxious junior account executive trying alternately to suck up to creative director Don Draper or to show him up, is a descendant of the Dyckmans. Continue reading

Nuclear power dream and Tokyo workshops

31 Mar

Had my first nuclear power dream this morning, Wednesday, 3/30 (my first remembered dream of any type to do with the ongoing earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster in Japan). It was extremely vague—two spherical towers with a dark gray waffle pattern, appearing how the Indian Point plant 40 miles of New York City seems to look in recent TV news stories about its safety or lack thereof.

Indian Point nuclear power plant—Joe Larese/The Journal News, on LoHud.com

Indian Point nuclear power plant—Joe Larese/The Journal News, on LoHud.com

Except that in my dream, the plant fits into my bathroom and the towers are truly spherical (which I thought they were, until looking for an image); in waking reality, they’re cyclindrical with spherical tops. The feeling in the dream is a sort of dull resignation: “Of course this was coming, but now that it’s here, it’s hard to take in.”

My friend Misa Tsuruta, who lived in Manhattan and then Brooklyn for much of the time I’ve known her, returned to Tokyo a couple of years ago. She’s the International Association for the Study of Dreams’s regional co-representative for Japan. She returns to New York City a couple of times a year, because she’s pursuing a Ph.D. in cognitive, social, and developmental psychology at the New School. Last May, she gave an informal talk for IASD-NYC about dreams in Japanese culture.

Misa is putting together  a series of art therapy workshops for children traumatized by recent events in Japan. The World Dreams Peace Bridge has a PayPal button for donating toward Misa’s workshop supplies and expenses. Please consider supporting Misa in this effort.

Whales’ return

10 Feb
Humpback whale, location unspecified - NOAA photo

Humpback whale, location unspecified - NOAA photo

A day or two before the dream I tell below, I read the previous Sunday’s New York Daily News (1/30/11) and tore out an article titled “Recovery is no fluke:  Great whales back in seas near N.Y.C.” (pp. 14–15; the online version has a different title). This at the mouth of the Hudson River, which only a couple of decades ago was so polluted that a scuba-diving friend told me, “Stepping into the Hudson is like stepping into chocolate pudding.” Continue reading