Fri 29 Apr 2011
I have known Elizabeth Garnsey, the coolest minister in town, for ages. We met when she was writing for Travel + Leisure magazine and interviewed me. Since then we have been steadfast friends. After divinity school when she started at St Bartholomew’s Church in midtown, she immediately took a refreshing approach to religion. Elizabeth buys old French church robes, as the selection available is quite dull. She asked me to make an unusual block printed robe for her in metallic since I was printing metallic in India. I immediately volunteered to block print a robe for her as I am always interested in cross-pollination between art and design, and why not throw religion in the mix.
Elizabeth started preaching up at Heavenly Rest a few years ago and told me about thebanners behind the altar that change with each liturgical season. She invited me to create one and all she told me about it, beside the size was, “New life, sunrise, re-birth, joy, green plants and flowers.” And then I was off to India the next week with this exciting multi-layered project in mind—the perfect thing to try to explain to my Hindu partners. The Indians smiled and agreed to help and when I was printing it, they stopped in to see the action and smiled.
I like the scale of the banner—it’s my Schnabel of sorts. The tricky part was that the panel is so large it would not fit on the table, so I had to print it in sections without a clear idea of the sections before as I was stamping.
Block printing is perfect for the creation of the banner; the randomness of the blocks is like the uncertainty of life. The hand moving across the fabric stamp by stamp, building it up one stamp at a time, into a whole story, a culmination, a birth. For colors I picked local flowers and leaves in Jaipur and gave them to the dye master to mix colors.
I printed it in the 95-degree heat of Jaipur which is a bit hotter than a New York spring, but as close as I could get to sun and heat in March. I even found a block that looks a bit like an Easter egg to toss in—for an Easter egg hunt, of sorts.
Thank you, Elizabeth and Heavenly Rest, for this opportunity to create on many levels.