Thinking more about story

Firstly, another – slightly better but not much – attempt at photographing the woven moon:

It measures about 28″ x 18″ so far. 

Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on yesterday’s post.  You all helped me enormously in my understanding, and you all wrote so much more clearly than I did.  I’ve been trying to think about why I find this concept (‘story’) so difficult.  To me, ‘story’ is something literary and narrative, like a book or the plot of a film.  But what if I understood ‘story’ to encompass a wider range, like themes and (as Grace suggested) archetypes?  If I can recognise themes and say something like ‘this film is about love, and loss, and guilt’ then I could also substitute the word ‘cloth’ for ‘film’ in that sentence.  If I can say what a cloth is ‘about’ – and I can, mostly – then it, too, can be a kind of story.  But I’m still not entirely comfortable with this.  I think visual art is more akin to music than to literary art.  I keep coming back to what Suzanna said about it going ‘beyond words’.  Sometimes when you listen to a piece of music, it can move you in a way that you can’t begin to describe.  There isn’t even a word for the feeling you get; you just want to listen again and to experience that feeling.  I think visual art speaks in a similar language; one of colour and shape and line, something that goes far beyond words and touches a very deep place that existed long before language. 

If I could express what I wanted to say in words alone, then I would be a writer.  I want to say morethan words (as e.e.cummings might put it – he does brilliant things with language).  Cloth and thread are already saying something, even before you pick them up and make something with them.  I think this is because they’ve already had a life, and they arrive on your table with memories and a past, a rich history that they might want to share if you care enough to listen.    Maybe anything made from cloth is automatically a story for that reason.  As ancientcloth says, every cloth has a story to tell, even if ‘storytelling’ is not the intention.  And as Patty says, the experience – every experience – is the story. 

So I’m still revising my definition of story: like Grace, placing fragments in a relationship and capturing a moment of life; like Do, wondering whether every image starts a story; like Sweetpea, enjoying the story of the process that we’re all sharing; like Suziqu, considering the relationship between me and the cloth.  And Grace, how could I ever tire of a conversation like this?  Thank you.

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13 Responses to Thinking more about story

  1. Kaite says:

    hi Karen, i've also been thinking about what a story is and i've done a bit of enquiring as well. What i have come up with is that it is a design or arrangement of words, images, colours, sounds etc to re-create personalities or events surrounding some basic human need such as family, love, shelter, meaning of life and so on. I'll blog about it soon when i have done a piece to represent what i'm trying to say. cheers to a fellow enquirer, kaite

  2. what a beautiful story cloth ofword images you made with ourthoughts, karen…collaging itall cohesively, making one ofall our parts…and there we have it! we are a story, all ponderingin the very good company of ourselves…similar to jude's comment i think..traLa~

  3. this moon, ahhhh. resting amidst its woven world….

  4. that (threadcrumbs) was/is abeautiful visual you posted onSpiritCloth…just beautiful….

  5. jude says:

    i see this and i feel something shared. storytelling is sharing isn't it?

  6. Karen Turner says:

    Sharing – yes. And isn't it magical that we are all over the world and yet together in one place?

  7. Barbara says:

    Hi,I love the woven moon … the moon is a big part of my life … and I hope you don't mind if I chime in. I think a story moves you in more ways than words be it a visual story, a literary story or a musical story or for that matter … something that just unfolds in your world. There is always more than meets the eye or the words have said.Your work looks great,Best wishes,Barbara

  8. arlee says:

    Just do what you do and don't label–it is what it is—and that in the end is why we do what we do.And that's the honest Stitcher's Rap!

  9. sweetypie says:

    this is all thought provoking. when I first began to quilt I tried to impose my intentions on it. nowadays I let the quilt tell me its story and go with what it wants to be, and when I sew,I often feel I drift off to another place,I certainly enjoy the process very much, never knowing how it will end or what I will discover along the way and more and more I like to work with old well used fabrics because they sing their own song I think you are bringing out the wierdness in all of us tonight.

  10. Karen Turner says:

    oh yes, I can usually be relied upon for weirdness, sweetypie ;-)Arlee, that's very wise.

  11. bwilliams says:

    Karen, reading through the last two entries and comments sent me searching in my little notebook where I collect ideas, quotes, etc. This is what I was looking for:"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." -Muriel RukeyserI don't remember where or when I found it, but it spoke to the deep part of me where the realization of those things which are truly meaningful in life is born. Where you are and the journey that brought you to this place are inseparable. Each step along the way becomes as much a part of the spirit that is you as the atoms that comprise the physical world. The fabric/art/story you create is inseparable from its elements and process. It metamorphoses with its journey…all things do.If the universe is made up of stories rather than atoms, then our stories collectively hold our world together…and thus we should continue the telling…whether we speak with sound, image, or text…stories are life…life is stories…

  12. Deb G says:

    I'm so glad this conversation crept out of the Spirit Cloth class (I'm still annoyed with myself that I didn't get organized enough to join!). I'm thinking of picture books, there are several wonderful ones with no text. Of photographs that have caught a story. Just some different lenses… For me fabric becomes a medium, the method of delivery, just like words are…. I'll be thinking of this some more. 🙂

  13. Karen Turner says:

    Thanks so much for your words, B and Deb. It's very reassuring that other people like to think about this too.

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