I was on the rez in Window Rock when I got the news: Fayola Ama, a friend back east, phoned to tell me. After we'd hung up, I just stood in the middle of the living room of Bernadette's house, shouting at G-d: NO! This is NOT FAIR!
The Almighty 's reply was predictable. Too bad I felt that way because - fair or not fair - it was done. Better get used to it. That's all.
In what form she will return, I cannot imagine. Inger/QBB's artistic talents, her craft skills, were so formidable I was amazed when she put them aside to devote herself to the Sufi master Bawa Muhaideen Ji, at whose Fellowship in Philadelphia I visited her while in NYC at grad school, which I began in 1986, after another Arcosanti sojourn. When I asked her about putting all those talents in service to the Fellowship, she waved that idea off with an eloquent wrist gesture. No time for that, she indicated. I don't know that I understood what she meant at the time, but for sure my gratitude for the skills she shared with me, which I hope still serve to her credit, didn't prevent me from wondering how I might put them to use in a way that may be of benefit to the sangha, as Buddhists call one's fellowship.
Will I recognize Inger/QBB, her talents and beauty, in another form? I don't know. I hope so, but since I simply can't even begin to envision how I'd come to get to know her in whatever form her next incarnation might be, I'll say a little about how I got to know her in this one that she's just left behind.
We were neighbors in Vancouver in the early 1970s. Synchronistically she was living in the Kootenays, learning World Sign, a kind of visual Esperanto, when I settled in New Denver in 1980. After I managed to acquire some skill with a spinning wheel, she instructed me in felt-making and weaving. My hands, still feeling exercised by fine textile craft when I returned to Arcosanti, led me to one of the 4-harness floor looms that had been left behind by the Haystack School of the Arts, which I assembled in the Gallery, upstairs of the Cafe in the Crafts III building. I put a cotton warp on it, Sheri Gilfoy and I took turns weaving with it.
I can't recall what we produced but I do remember feeling the loom looked very much at home up there in the Gallery. Plus it was gratifying: weaving allowed for moments of meditative concentration - precious reflective time during a visitor-centered, visitor-filled, visitor-intense work day.
That effort put me in mind of Paolo and Colly's textile enterprise in Santa Fe, an endeavor they'd undertaken when they first returned to the USA from Italy after they were (Colly said) "rained out." Although even back then, it had been decades since I'd seen any of what they produced in Santa Fe; thoughts of their enterprise stayed with me as a concept.
Thus, I was mighty pleased when Paolo gave me - gave the alumni - leave to employ any of his drawings as templates for any textiles I (we) might produce. I first envisioned pillow covers, t-shirts, shower curtains (can you imagine the visual impact of the image of an arcology from City in the Image of Man hanging in your bathroom?) but I only got as far as several sets of notecards to benefit the emerging alumni network. Those notecards, which Rand Hunt created, were sold in the Gallery: they were bought up so quickly that the challenge of replacing them was somehow not met.
Which means turning all this into some kind of an entreprise that can benefit Arcosanti remains, still, for someone or some group of someones (Cosanti Originals, perhaps?) to take up.
I also thought, after I unearthed a quite serviceable industrial sewing machine and restored it to working order, that we'd be able to make one-of-a-kind textile items using recycled cloth, which I figured could be culled from Ferguson's FreeCycle Store. That led me to setting up a minimal textile studio, adjacent to Ferguson's - but not, alas, adjacent to a washbasin with running water and soap, which are essential to any project that will make use of recycled textiles.
My idea was to produce a few sample items, efficiently and cheaply; but after Cabiria Dourte used that industrial machine to repair the canvas canopy over the Colly Soleri Music Center amphitheatre (a fine piece she made of it, too) no further use was made, insofar as I know, of that industrial Singer.
Which means her song still awaits us, therefore: "Fat lady ain't sung yet!" and one-of-a-kind wall hangings of Soleri drawings, an applique challenge of fairly serious proportions, was also put on hold.
But when Saori Komuro, an architecturally trained designer in Japan, enquired about textiles while on her workshop - Was there an "Arcosanti fashion" and if so, what was it? - I thought immediately of arconaut Melissa Lockwood, whose fabulous IQTest clothing is high-end chic and utterly frugal. If there is such a thing as an "Arcosanti fashion style," surely it would be along such lines?
Melissa's garments are made from the most common cut-off fabric scraps that mass-production designers throw away. She actually gets fabric from the cutting-factory waste bins that are queued for landfill. The fabric shape left over is most commonly the long narrow piece that gets cut off the edges of the stack before the garment shapes are cut out; but she also designs with other left-over, off-cut shapes: the fabric that was left between all the planned pattern pieces. Melissa says she's making garments this way to show that those pieces of fabric are a valuable resource and not landfill.
Moreover, Melissa's garments, although clearly high-end design, are definitely not high end in price.
"Frugal" certainly does not mean "without artistry," as the pictures here of a few of Melissa's creations shows. (You can click on the link below to get directly to her IQTest website.)