December 21, 2009

Rayela Art and HeART of Healing Gallery Bring the World of Textiles to Paducah!

Handmade ornaments from Thailand, India and Indonesia

Dr. Christi Bonds and I, Rachel Biel, have a passion in common: textiles!  Both of us are members of Paducah Fiber Artists, a group that meets monthly for show and tell, potluck and support.  Both of us quilt.  And, both of us love textiles from around the world.  Christi, a medical doctor who practices Integrative medicine, has an alternative health clinic in the heart of LowerTown's art neighborhood.  A large gallery room was dedicated to this love of textiles, housing HeART of Healing Gallery.  I had a booth downtown at 212 Broadway and was working two afternoons a week at Christi's gallery.  We decided that it would make sense to move the gallery downtown and free up the space for more health related programs.  We now have both of our booths across from each other, separated by an aisle.  It looks like one big ethnic textile shop! 

HeART of Healing Gallery's new space 
at Antique Galleria, 212 Broadway in Paducah

Rayela Art's booth faces HeART of Healing's

The booths work really well together as we have different specialties.  HeART of Healing Gallery has grown an impressive collection of molas made by the Kuna Indians in Panama.  Most are unfinished panels that can be framed or made into pillows, bags, or incorporated into quilts.  But, there also many mola blouses, an unusual find in most mola circles.  The blouses have panels on front and back and are set into the traditional gauzy floral fabrics so loved by the Kuna women.  These people are tiny, tiny, so most of us will have to enjoy these blouses as textiles, although I suppose they could be altered to fit some of us more Nordic types.

Kuna mola blouses from Panama

Another major focus found at HeART of Healing's booth are scores of vintage Japanese kimono, both long and short.  Christi originally bought these for the fabric as many quilters enjoy working with it, but we have found that our customers also love wearing the kimono.  So, cut it up or put it on, it's up to you!

HeART of Healing's closet of Kuna blouses and kimono.

Kimono + windchimes = good feng shui at HeART of Healing!

Rayela Art's focus moves to Central and South Asia: textile stamps from Afghanistan, ralli quilts from Pakistan, and Suzani embroidery from Uzbekistan. 

Rayela Art's textile stamps are always a big favorite!

Ralli quilts: use them on your bed or hang them on a wall.

Rayela Art also carries tribal and vintage clothing, 
kilim rugs, Indian spreads and other textiles.

Uzbeki coat and sarong from Bali, both Rayela Art.

Both of our booths also have plenty of small gift items, jewelry and interesting crafts that are bound to find their way to someone's home.  HeART of Healing also has a nice display case filled with African beads and some nice sculptures, not pictured here. 

HeART of Healing: Chinese cosmetic pouches, 
Oaxacan carvings, and more!

Rayela Art: Chinese statues and Moroccan lamps.

HeART of Healing: bamboo woven porcelain, 
bone carvings, Quan Yin, and jewelry.

Rayela Art: natural seed jewelry, tribal necklaces

Between the two of us, anyone who loves cultural textiles and crafts are bound to find something they like!  Nikki May of IList Paducah was kind enough to mention us in her tour of historic Paducah's hot shopping spots.  We invite you to travel the world with us, sharing in this wonderful gift of creativity and talent that connects all craft and textile people to each other!

Both Rayela Art and HeART of Healing Gallery have shops on Etsy.

Learn more about us on our websites:

HeART of Healing

November 20, 2009

"Naturally and Artificially Flavored", The Graduate Association of Painters and Printmakers of the School of Art and Design at SIUC Show

"The Graduate Association of Painters and Printmakers of the School of Art and Design at SIUC are proud to announce their first Juried Exhibit in Paducah, Kentucky. Naturally and Artificially Flavored represents the graduate students of the Ceramics, Glass, Metals-Blacksmithing, Sculpture, and the Two-Dimensional departments. Freda Fairchild, an artist of Paducah, selected the works that are exhibited. Naturally and Artificially Flavored will be held at the Heart of Healing Gallery, from November 13th- December 11th, 2009. The opening reception will be held on November 13th, 2009 5pm- 8pm. There will be food, beverage, music, and an abundance of art, so we encourage everyone to attend and partake in this event."

Press Release for Naturally and Artificially Flavored

HeART of Healing Gallery was pleased to host both this opening and show.  Several of the artists were able to attend the event and it was a great pleasure to chat with them about their work.  Like most art that has been thought out, each had arrived at their current mediums through introspection, dedicated exploration of the materials used, and technical development. 

All of these artists have been working on their master's degrees at SIUC.  Although most of the pieces submitted are two dimensional, many were 3D and included ceramics, glass, wood, and metal.  Full bios of the students with images of their work is available on their Graduate School Gallery.

The images below are a few of the pieces currently showing at HeART of Healing Gallery.  The show will be up through December 11th, so do come visit.

Bucky by Mike Nguyen

Untitled by K. Carter

Confidential #2 by Michael Chmielewski

Mantra 001 by Adrienne Foster

UN-becoming by Tanya Gadbaw

Rule of the City by Hyun Sung Cho

The show was curated by our dear friend, Freda Fairchild, a Paducah artist.

HeART of Healing Gallery is open from 12-5PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

October 30, 2009

Kuna Fabric: Great for Quilting!

Kuna outfit: mola blouse, printed cotton fabric
worn as a sarong and lots of beads.

by Rachel Biel Taibi

Dr. Christi has been working with a contact in Panama who has lived there for several decades. Her collection of molas is rapidly growing into a stunning collection that give tribute to the Kuna culture. And, as a quilter, she soon recognized that the fabric the Kuna women wear as skirts holds great potential for those of us who make our own textiles. The Kuna love color and bold designs. The photo above shows the basics of their outfit: mola blouse, printed fabric for the skirt, lots of beads and a cotton red scarf (which we also carry but don't have photos yet). So, she requested that her supplier send her a bunch of the fabric, too.

All of the fabric we have gotten has been cut into the length preferred by the Kuna women, about 55" long (and 35" wide). As the Kuna are a tiny people, this length would be too short for most North American women to wear as a sarong. But, as fabric, these pieces are very interesting. She has not been able to get information on where it is manufactured and thinks that it may be imported, but I think that the fabric is dyed and silk screened locally. If you have any information on this, we would love to learn about it, so do leave a comment here!

All of the pieces have bold graphic designs on dark indigo or black. Many of them are long horizontal designs that would be great for borders. We listed several of them on Etsy, so make sure to take a look. The fabric is a bit pricey and we are hoping to find a source that is more affordable, but for now, this is what we have.

I find the graphics so interesting because they are quite contemporary yet they work really well with the mola blouses. I wonder how they got started on these designs. Before the Kuna were introduced to commercial fabrics, needle and thread, they painted their bodies with the designs we quickly recognize from the older molas. We still have a lot to learn but enjoy sharing both our tidbits of information with you as well as our finds!


August 22, 2009

The Tree of Life in Our Cosmic Psyche

by Rachel Biel Taibi

Tree of Life Mola by the Kuna of the San Blas Islands

We just listed a mola on Etsy that led to some interesting thoughts on creation and connectedness. This mola has a tree on it with a bunch of birds. Perhaps it is just a tree, but we like to think of it as a tree of life. This tree, the tree of life, the tree that sustains, the tree that protects, the tree that gives knowledge or poison, the tree that connects the earth to heaven, yes, this tree, is found in so many cultures and throughout history that one must almost conclude that there is a genetic inprint in our brains. We need this tree.

Dr. Gail Ramshaw, a scholar of Liturgical language, has had an avid interest in the tree of life. She has documented how it appears in many cultures throughout history around the world and ties it in with our collective psyche. Of the Kuna, she says:

"The Kuna people of the islands near Panama tell of the paluwala tree of life. A creation tree, it flourished at the beginning of time, and all the animals emerged from its branches." So, perhaps in this mola, the birds are emerging, moving to their full potential as the best birds they can be.

If you are interested in mythology and multiculturalism, do take a moment to read Dr. Ramshaw's essay on the Tree of Life. She approaches it within the context of church life, history and spirituality. There are some interesting insights into some Christian myths which also relate to the Tree of Life. One story tells of how Adam's original tree was a marvellous source for miracles and plentifulness. But, it was cut down and from the trunk Christ's cross was made. But, there are also many references to pagan and other traditions that are also great stories.

Yet, for Ramshaw, the tree is more than a story, it is the archetypal element that draws the world's religions and imagination together. The following text is from a sermon from the Early Church. Although the context is Christian, the same iconography and life sustaining images are found in other religions:

This Tree is my eternal salvation. It is my nourishment and my banquet. Amidst its roots I cast my own roots deep: beneath its boughs I grow and expand, revelling in its sigh as in the wind itself. Flying from the burning heat, I have pitched my tent in its shadow, and have found a resting-place of dewy freshness. I flower with its flowers; its fruits bring perfect joy - fruits which have been preserved for me since time's beginning, and which now I freely eat. This Tree is a food, sweet food, for my hunger, and a fountain for my thirst; it is a clothing for my nakedness; its leaves are the breath of life. Away with the fig-tree, from this time on! If I fear God, this is my protection; if I stumble, this is my support; it is the prize for which I fight and the reward of my victory. This is my straitened path, my narrow way; this is the stairway of Jacob, where angels pass up and down, and where the Lord in very truth standing at the head.

This Tree, vast as heaven itself, rises from earth to the skies, a plant immortal, set firm in the midst of heaven and earth, base of all that is, foundation of the universe, support of this world of men, binding-force of all creation, holding within itself all the- mysterious essence of man. Secured with the unseen clamps of the spirit, so that, adjusted to the Divine, it may never bend or warp, with foot resting firm on earth it towers to the topmost skies, and spans with its allembracing arms the boundless gulf of space between.

The Buddha sat under a Banyan Tree as he searched for enlightenment. Perhaps the draw for all of us is that when we can see the tree, especially when we zoom in on it with an artistic eye, we recognize that we need it, see more clearly because of it. We can breathe better when there are trees to give us shade.

Take a look outside your window. Do you see a tree? Do you have a favorite? If not, perhaps you need a bit of Kuna love, a mola tree to give you that sacred space our psyche's crave...

August 8, 2009

Mola Mania on Etsy!

by Rachel Biel Taibi

HeART of Healing Gallery has been buying molas, molas, and more molas! As the collection and selection has grown, we have begun to list ones that we find especially interesting in our Etsy store. Molas are the Kunas way of telling and documenting their stories. Some are obvious and reflect the tropical paradise they live in. Others may refer to their daily life, to images they see in printed media, and to commentaries on people outside their community. The molas below are some of the new ones we have just listed. Click on the images for larger photos and you can see details in the Etsy listings.

Chicha is a form of brew made out of sugar cane. This mola shows a couple of women and men fanning the fires and smoking their pipes as they wait for the brew to do its thing.
Kuna mola, "Making Chicha"

The Kuna come out of an animist tradition where Nature is central. They have an extensive mythology and are one of the few Central American indigenous groups who have maintained their culture. Many have, however, converted to Christianity, although many of the converts practice a syncretism form incorporating Christian stories into their own world view. The mola below, of Jesus on the cross, is interesting in its tone. Everybody looks happy, smiling away. Quite the contrast to the gorey crucifix we normally see in Roman Catholicism.

Kuna mola: Jesus on the cross.

Vultures normally do not get a good rap in the bird world, yet this mola maker succeeded in giving these birds some dignity. They are not the most beautiful birds in the world, yet they serve an important function in keeping disease at bay by cleaning carcasses that have met their natural or untimely deaths. The birds are sadly disappearing around the world and nobody really knows why. Zoroastrians are especially disheartened as they still choose to offer the remains of their dead to these birds as a cleansing ritual. (Zoroastrian funerals)
Kuna Mola: Two Elegant Vultures

Worms! What to say about them? I found a couple of references online that touched on Kuna mythology indicating that worms represented penises, thus life and fecundity, especially in the context of creation. A Unesco report mentioned that worms are very important to the Kuna because they are used as bait to fish. Any gardener will know how worms are essential to fertile soil. The composition in this mola is especially nice and does speak to embrionic states.

Kuna mola: Worms, fertility and bait

And, of course there are the molas that just celebrate nature, especially birds and flowers. This cardinal mola is absolutely stunning. The colors are bold and contrast well with each other and the lines are fluid and elegant. Truly a beauty!
Kuna Mola: Two Cardinals

All of these molas are exceptional in their stitching and embroidery. Tiny, even spacing and excellent composition. Visit our store on Etsy as we continue to add more of these specatcular beauties!

April 15, 2009

New Show! Paducah Fiber Artists Come Together at the Heart of Healing Gallery!

Lily and Susan with their show-and-tells.
Lily used the baby a couple of times, but he doesn't count anymore...

Paducah is a small city in the Northwestern corner of Kentucky. Known as "Quilt City, USA" it houses the Museum of American Quilter's Society (locally referred to as the Quilt Museum) and The LowerTown Arts District.

Judy Schwender, Curator of the Quilt Museum (She's trying to remember the list of things she has to say!)

I moved here in 2005 after 20 years of living in Chicago. Paducah fulfilled several of the criteria that I wanted in my choice of a new home: an artist community, a mid-size town with good hospitals (you just never know!), plenty of water (the Ohio River), ability to grow things (that comes with a healthy eco-system of the not-so-wanted life like chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes and snakes), affordable real estate (I'm still stuck in a shack!) and access to larger metropolitan areas (less than 3 hours from Memphis, St. Louis and Nashville, 7 hours straight South of Chicago). The best of these has been the artist community here and our very special Paducah Fiber Artists.

Ulla with her Show-and-Tell, a silk/bamboo blend.

Our group meets monthly for a scrumptious pot-luck and show and tell. When you see the photos, you will notice that our group is on the older side. Older, but not dead! Older, in this case, means experienced, talented people who know the ropes, both in technique and in marketing their work. Exactly what I longed for and what I cling to! The Chicago art scene that I often saw only wore black and was pierced and tatooed where the sun never shines... That means nothing, it simply is not our demographic. Our meetings are one of the big highlights of my life in Paducah. I am a homebody, always late, with a self-diagnosis of movement displacement. That means that I am so engaged in what I am doing, that I have a hard time leaving my immediate surroundings to go somewhere new. But, I overcome it for this group. I always learn something and I just enjoy these people tremendously!

Irene Reising talking intensely about something...

Irene Reising's Intense Quilt "Out of the Pit of Hell"

We rotate from house to house and get to ogle each other's art collections and books. This month we met at Caryl Bryer Fallert's Bryerpatch Studio, also in LowerTown.

Caryl Bryer Fallert with Freda Fairchild cropped in the background.

Caryl Bryer Fallert's "Reflection #18"

Last year, one of our meetings was at Margaret Merida's house, way out in the boondox somewhere. Margaret has an extraordinary art collection and her husband is a talented artist who makes wild sculptures out of gourds, larger than life animals, spirits and goddesses.

Paducah Fiber Artists at Margaret Merida's House, 2008

Can you believe this is made out of gourds?

Dr. Christi Bonds Garrett has especially become a focal person in this scenario. Owner of HeART of Healing Gallery, she has employed me to work on the weekends and help her with inventory and such. We are both quilters and we both have a love affair with many of the same cultural textiles. Have we torn a kimono in two yet? Not yet, but only because of the abundance of Dr. Christi's collection....

Freda Fairchild and Dr. Christi Bonds Garrett

A costume designer and print maker (among many other things!), Freda Fairchild has a series of ghostly garments in the group show.

'Turtle" by Dr. Christi Bonds Garrett

Our lives here are still very new. Dr. Christi relocated from Nevada, runs Integrative Medicine of Kentucky on the weekends (along with Heart of Healing Gallery which is annexed to the clinic) while holding a full time job as a Western medical doctor. This year, during the Quilt Show, the gallery will showcase our Paducah Fiber Artists in a group show and we hope that this will become a yearly tradition.

Bob Davis shows his new artistic direction, drawing,
while Helene Davis (yes, they are a couple!) looks on...

Reflections II by Robert Davis

Limbo by Helene Davis

Yes, I miss some of the amenities that Chicago has to offer. I miss the diversity, too. But, this group of people that makes up the Paducah Fiber Artists translates a rich inner life into the fabric that binds us all together! Are you coming to Paducah for the Quilt Show? Be sure to stop in and visit the HeART of Healing Gallery and enjoy what we have to offer!

Charlotte and Ulla, giggling at the camera.

The show is also available online.

Rachel Biel Taibi with my Show-And-Tell,
the beginnings of "Sidney's Ties"