Keep Love & Passion Close

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Yesterday, a strong memory of a very dear friend circled back around to poke me in the heart. The memory stung me while hanging out on-line with fiber, and fiber-friendly, folks for the second time this week. This being the most appropriate time, since my unique and lovely friend, Biny, became an outstanding fiber artist in New York City in the late 1970’s, long before the description caught on. Then, the irony of today’s sewing session became clear. Here’s the story.

Setting the Scene: The creatives of our VOTE yard-sign-making network arranged for us to work on our signs remotely/together. I got READY with fabric, stencils, cutting board, permanent marker. Then, I SET my on-line camera to join the work crew. Last, I clicked on the link to GO and hang out on site.

Setting the Tone: These days, reminding people to vote is most serious work. It was also important back in Cleveland in 1970, when I was in eleventh grade. Biny convinced me to cut school and join her in attending the Vote-18 hearings at the downtown courthouse. I did. The measure eventually passed in Ohio. And, this marked my first effort at becoming actively aware of political winds and changes that I could affect.

Setting the Tone, Part Two: Encouraging voting, the way pole2polls does it, is also serious fun. I mean, when my kids and I check in with one another I can say that “I’ve been tracing and cutting out stuff all morning.” Guffaw (insert tearing-up-with-laughter emoji). This is some of the best kid stuff I can recall. Definitely more satisfying than when I was about 7 and I left my Crayola crayons box of 64 out on the lawn to melt after an intense drawing session. Well, as intense as a 7-year-old can get.

Core of the Plot: For my VOTE stencils, I had picked this old, unused piece of quilting cotton with a dainty flower print from my fabric stash. Here is where my present and my memory connected. Glancing down at my work, I suddenly remembered when and why I had bought the fabric.

After Biny had suffered a violent, untimely death in August, 1980, I found the opportunity to design a fiber memory triangle in her name The VOTE fabric that I was using had been part of the batch, though unused, out of which I fashioned Biny’s triangle. From Cleveland in 1970, to Queens in 1980, to Pittsburgh in 2020. Fulfilling a similarly urgent need.

The photo at this story’s lead shows my cut letters against the dark-blue blouse of Biny’s which I had bought from her in twelfth grade, after it was displayed in the Senior Art Show.

Through-Line of the Story: We had been together, growing into friends from third grade till her death. Yet, she is still close by.