an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
Good morning to you all.
I am writing from Savannah, Georgia, on a soft rainy day, with a very tender heart. You may know that we moved the CGB project down here during the pandemic, when it became clear that humans were in a new kind of reality, a difficult place in human time where we cannot gather naturally, and life is not what we know. We still cannot gather, not safely. People all over are behaving terribly, to be frank, and I wish everyone would just stop. And breathe. And be kind.
Sadly, although we have sturdy vaccines, they are not available around the world equally, and in the USA, where they are abundant and free, people are refusing the vaccine for political reasons. This is madness. Over 600,000 are dead here so far, and many more are coming. The virus has mutated so effectively by now that even young children are getting sick too. We eradicated polio, smallpox and other deadly plagues by working together, we brilliantly figured out a way to fight this sophisticated virus, and … we let this happen. It hurts.
Essentially everything is broken now except the things that were never real in the first place. The very wealthy are not inconvenienced, in fact they are profiting. Working artists would be on the other end of that spectrum, and we’ve spent the entire last year and a half working to support people around the world who have been out of pocket, not able to teach or buy supplies.
In April of last year (when things started to get really scary) John Bead in Canada packed up a huge pallet of beads and shipped them down to us in DC. Originally, they were meant for our team to gather and create a series of museum exhibits after the publication of our new books, but they rapidly turned instead into a lifeline of support for bead artists near and far, struggling to maintain their practices during the lockdown.
About half of the boxes were of a bead that was rejected by the People – a size 10 silver-lined pony bead that liked to tarnish. We eagerly took them, and I sent several boxes worth out to 100 different beaders. Yes! I did. I mailed out care packages small and large, and whenever possible with financial stipends too.
Check out this blog post to see what Joy Davison (also known as JayDee) did with the pony beads. Wow. I used my supply to create a series of memorial art pieces placed around Washington, DC, with portraits of young people lost to violence, Indigenous women and children refused asylum, children in cages. Each glittering silver bead represented a tear shed.
I’ll keep you posted on our full publication schedule. There are shortages of everything from ink to paper, our team can’t gather, and all of our hearts are sore. But by God we are going to move forward. Our first book out will be coming at the end of this month, and I’ll be back soon to tell you more about how we are going to manage it with everything cocked up. There is much to tell.
In the meantime, please have a peek at Kathryn Shriver’s Rainbow Exploding PodCast Bead, one of the new Fellowship Kits going on sale next week in our shop.
While we wait out this difficult time, let’s all be gentle, and if possible focus on what matters – kindness. Most people are not emotionally ok right now, watching the world fall apart (I know I am not) and it’s important to keep that in mind when we reach out.