Thursday Love Letter From NOLA
I'm writing to you from the historic Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans. This is the first of several stops during a two week cross-country family adventure I am on with my husband and son. (But not to worry, workshops will definitely continue at All Hands while we're away, thanks to our awesome teachers and my intrepid assistant Elora!) Our ultimate destination is Cambridge, Massachusetts for my 10 year college reunion next weekend. These few days in the Big Easy are a reward my husband and his team earned at work, so instead of making two separate round trip flights, we decided to drive from New Orleans to Boston and visit as many sites along the Civil Rights Trail as we can along the way.
To say this city has a creative culture is a severe understatement. Spontaneous live jazz is wafting up from the streets as I write this to you at 11pm! The decorative arts are in abundance here as well, for me most visibly in the French Quarter's iconic iron balconies. From music to metalwork to Mardi Gras, a common theme in New Orleans' creative history is *mixture* as muse. Mixing - genres, races, cuisines, nationalities, forms of dance, even religion - has been the impulse for innovation, for things never seen or done before. Taking the iron balconies as an example, the earliest ones were shaped by hand (!) by enslaved people from West Africa who learned the aesthetic of French and Spanish colonizers in the early 18th century. But if you observe them closely, many of the designs contain hidden Adinkra - symbols that convey traditional West African concepts and wisdom.
Inspired by the idea of mixture as muse, I have recently started exploring with the team of All Hands teachers how to create discounted workshop bundles that enable you to integrate several creative skills over time. Maybe you draw an original design in Ana's Pen & Ink workshop that you then bring to Joan's Block Printing workshop to carve a block of that you then bring to Julie's Sew a Tote workshop to custom stamp your own fabric. Or maybe you want to go deep into the world of natural dyeing with Kaitlin and create a collection of unique textiles in indigo blues, avocado pinks and onion skin yellows. Stay tuned for the debut of bundles like this soon! In the meantime, the best way to experience the greatest mix of workshops is to become an All Hands member.
On yet another level, I am striving to create a more mixed student body at All Hands. I'd love to hear your ideas about how to succeed in doing this. Scholarships are now available for folks from underrepresented groups, so please spread the word! To apply, all one needs to do is email me. The greater the diversity of backgrounds and skill sets and styles and worldviews that can commingle and expand upon one another, the more enriched and truly creative we all will be.
Sending you slow days, warm breezes and great jazz,
PS. Here's a mini lineup of upcoming workshops:
Avocado Dyeing - Sat May 25
Hammered Brass and Tassel Earrings - Sat May 25
Macrame Plant Hangers - Fri May 31
Block Printing - Sun Jun 2
Leather Clutch and Key Fob - Thurs Jun 6
Natural Perfume Making - Sat Jun 8
Embodied Abstract Painting - Sun Jun 8
PPS. Did you know that New Orleans has only been called the Big Easy since the 1970s? The nickname stuck when a reporter used it to refer its unhurried pace of life as compared to New York City, the Big Apple.