an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
When last I wrote, I began with “we are all in a bit of crisis right now with the pandemic, America is having a contentious election, and this tough time is shredding all feeling beings.”
Since that time, it’s all true, and even more tragic. Over 300,000 dead, the pandemic at a complete overload level, and my countrypeople acting like they don’t know how to come in from the rain, people refusing to wear masks, acknowledge the election, continuing to do family gatherings. White supremacists with weapons in my city, your city, threatening, harming, harassing. There is so much dangerous behavior right now, and I simply don’t know how to look at Facebook and watch people proudly not wearing masks, flying around for the holidays… it hurts to see and I wish we had any type of working government that could pay people to stay home so we can beat this thing.
Half of the people I know and love work in the arts, the theater, they serve in restaurants or work in bars, they do child care and stage lighting and they run bakeries and bookstores, and they are all losing everything while the very very wealthy are making billions of dollars a day. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Our team is ready to go with our new work, but I simply cannot print the books until we can gather to assemble and ship (it’s many tons of books in many thousands of packages) and I just can’t let ten years of work go out as a PDF release, even to pre-orders, I’m sorry. We are just going to have to wait like everyone else while America falls quite unnecessarily into ruin, and then we will have to wait some more while we crawl out. I would guess it will be spring before we will be even able to consider gathering as a team to print and ship. In the meantime, I continue to work; by the time we can to to press I will likely have all four new books/projects ready to roll at once.
The crushing part of this is that while we wait, millions more will lose their jobs, their lives, their health, their shops, their savings, their houses, and their cars, their mental health, and their loved ones. Many of the artists we know and love are in peril, are depressed, are out of money.
You may have heard me mention before that I am currently in a three-year national service period. During this time of a complete lack of national leadership, it’s been difficult to interpret how we should comport our science and discovery teams. For my own part, I’ve used my art to try to bring change, and I’ve continued to work on our presentation so that our books and patterns and classes can support our artists.
Here is a street art piece I placed in an old metal callbox on Capital Hill in DC. It features a moveable action figure of the the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg raising her gavel next to a cage of “detained” migrant children with little silver mylar blankets. I did a whole series of pieces like this, moments of our heartbreaking times.
The river of glass tears represents the endless river of harm: stolen children, stolen land, disappeared women. The beads used were from the great John Bead donation; these are big silver-lined glass pony beads that tarnish in the middle; the sparkling tears will turn darker with time….as grief grows.
I hope to be back with you soon, but I fear many of us have a hard winter ahead. I’ll be focusing on the health of our creative teams for the next few months; it’s so hard to live hand to bead to mouth.
As always, I greatly appreciate everyone’s support of the project, and if you pre-ordered any of our new books, you are first in line off of the presses when their blessed clatter begins. If anyone is weary of the wait, refunds are always immediately available. Just email me at email@example.com.
One piece of important news – we moved. When it became apparent that we won’t be able to work in DC again anytime soon (Zoom meetings are not the same as discovery teams gathering) we decided to prioritize CGB, and we moved to Savannah, Georgia, so I could more easily collaborate with Sam Norgard and the brilliant SCAD students during the ongoing pandemic.
Being in the same town will allow us to all work on big pieces together, even if we can’t be in the same room. So far so good – this is a beautiful old city and I’ll enjoy my time here.
Each of us can do our part to help end this nightmare – we can wear masks, wash our hands, donate to food banks and shelters, check on our neighbors and friends, and keep an eye out for those who are struggling. We must join hands in love and strength and grow toward a new spring.
I wish I could chat with you all, see what you are making. Please know that you are in my heart and mind as I burrow in and work. Good luck to you and yours, stay safe and I hope to see you at the other end.