Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three years passes in a flash.

And we move on. Always moving. Sometimes in circles, sometimes not so much. Before you know it, three years are gone and I am in a very different place.

I worked like a fiend for 10 hours straight in my studio in Santa Fe today. James Koehler tried for years to get me to move to Santa Fe and it wasn't until two years after he died that I did it. I don't honestly think living in Santa Fe versus anywhere else in the wide world has much to do with success or failure, at least not in the field of tapestry, but it is as good a stopping place as any for the moment.

The blog post I wrote three years ago is linked HERE. Many of the links in that post don't work any more. His website is gone along with most other internet traces... except here and there in corners of my blog. It is good to see those photos again and remember where I came from.

If you didn't know him, that isn't surprising, though if you wove tapestry, you probably did. His tapestries were amazing and he was just hitting his stride when he died. His passing left a door open for me. I think in some way I am just grateful now.

Students have told me frequently over the years to stop talking about James in my classes... that I had to teach what I knew and not what he taught me. I finally listened. I don't mean that I don't talk about his work or the fact that he was my teacher. I still do. But I also talk about what I learned in my journey after he was gone. The place I am now is different than the place I was in when he was alive. Of course it is. So I have to teach from the new place. We disagreed on many things, but much of what he taught me in terms of tapestry technique and the need for focus are part of my every day practice. And then of course there is the color.

Thanks James for getting me started.
James Koehler studio, 2009
Update 3/7/14: Here is a video I hadn't seen until I saw it linked on Robyn Spady's blog today. This is James probably in 2007 after he won the NM Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

The video: http://www.nmartmuseum.org/governors/awards/video.php?select=231

And Robyn's blog post about tapestry (also well worth your time!): http://spadystudios.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-36-tapestry/


  1. I like reading about James and am surprised that students asked you not to reference him in your teaching. I think that is a lovely way of honoring one of your teachers. It creates a tapestry family history by doing so. I have heard people doing this in other fields as in, "This person was related to me professionally because he was my advisor's advisor." It gives me the feeling of all being connected.

    1. Thanks! I definitely think passing on James' knowledge is important. I think the students were referring mostly to my habit of answering questions with, "Well, James would do this..." I still show his work and talk about what he taught me but I try not to do it in a way that sounds like I am only teaching his way which really isn't true in the slightest. I like the tapestry family history idea also and I think it is really important to remember those who taught us and carry what we learned forward... and not to forget them! (That is why I wrote the post).

  2. That is sad. you should be able to refrence who you like. I'm self taught but when I teach others I lead them to the books and online sources I've used. I even recomend certain other peoples Blogs to read!

    1. See comment above... I definitely do still talk about James, just in a different way.

  3. Three years??!!! Wow. On so many levels. Look at how you have grown, exponentially! He would be busting out with pride! It seems like longer and just recently, all at once. Thanks for acknowledging him, and this day that really shifted a lot of things for a lot of us. Susan

  4. This photo reminds me of the photos of Helena's studio. Oh to have those resources at hand, but at the moment I am just trying to get our house back in order and finish my little tapestry for the unjuried show (wow, my spellchecker hates the word unjuried and keeps changing to unburied. hmmmm, I wonder if there are any issues there).

    Glad you are well and happy in Santa Fe, maybe I will get back there one of these days.


  5. 3/6/2014 Please do talk about him. Those of us who have had a severe loss are afraid people will forget the person....so we bring up their name so no-one forgets them---perfectly normal.....I had a Reading teacher in college who told us we needed a reason to get up every morning and that we were all teachers of reading in one way or another. His words come back to me so often. So it's good you think and talk about James. It cherishes his memory. from Janet on the East Coast

  6. Thanks, Rebecca, for this warm remembrance of James. I'm rather like East Coast Janet in that I think talking about someone who had a profound and resonant impact on your life is recognition that these connections are vital to our creativity. And, one reveals a little bit of ourselves when we talk about the teachers who have influenced us in a genuinely personal way -- and that kind of revelation will be talked about when one of your students talks about you. I have a photo of James in my sketchbook that I look at periodically. A good reminder of discipline and generosity of spirit. cheryl


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