I came across our newest addition to my Lucid Thoughts blog only a few years ago. Valerie Kamikubo had a beautiful sense of color and playfulness in her work; however, her Flickr name and blog name say it all: Sew On and On.
Valerie’s expression mainly takes the form of textile and fabric arts. This is what led me to follow and become inspired by her Thankfulness Everyday Project (2011). The project began on January 1st, 2011 and was completed on December 31, 2011. I began to eagerly await the images as they were uploaded to the Internet.
I could completely relate to her physical manifestation of thankfulness. I could bear witness to her thankfulness as it grew longer and longer as the beautiful strips of fabric adorned the back yard wall of her house.
We all should be thankful. We all should feel blessed for what we have received. There is a Japanese concept of shugyo (daily practice). Which is basically some training that an individual completes on a daily basis in order to improve one’s life. This could be physical, spiritual or both.
In Valerie’s project her physical actions have manifested in such sublime beauty that we all should keep our thankfulness in the forefront of our thoughts on a daily basis.
We all, myself included, need to meditate on giving thanks. Whatever shape, prayer, habits that it entails, we should make thankfulness part of our process for growth as individuals, and as a greater community.
I knew I wanted to know more about Valerie and her project so I sat down and wrote up some questions for her.
Please take the time to explore her world, thoughts, and images.
Valerie please introduce yourself to the Lucid Communication community.
I am a soon to be 59 year old woman who works primarily as an R. N. case manager for an HIV/AIDS program in Southern California. I have always had an interest in art and started out my college life back in the seventies as an art major where I met my future husband who was also majoring in art at the time. At one point my major switched to nursing, but I’ve always led a creative life and nurtured and fed myself on the arts.
What inspired you to start the Thankfulness Project?
Towards the end of 2010 I knew that I wanted the discipline of working daily on something, and had been thinking about fulfilling that desire by possibly doing something along the lines of a sketch or photo each day. I was also thinking about my general approach to life and realized that there was much in my life that I needed to be thankful for.
I had decided that I would look for at least ten things each day to write down onto my laptop. The “thankfulness” aspect of it started out as a very personal thing. It wasn’t something that I really thought about sharing with others. However, as a seamstress I had a huge collection of colorful fabrics, and so the thought of combining thankfulness with the textiles came to my mind as a way of documenting the things that I was grateful for (ten strips each day).
It was at a time that the thought of sharing the whole aspect of the project seemed the right thing to do. We all have stuff that we can be thankful for, no matter what our circumstances. It really became a way of documenting beauty in my life.
What were your stylistic influences in its construction?
One of the things that I’ve liked about doing this project outside, and about much of installation art in general is the temporal aspect of much of it. I have enjoyed watching the elements have their effect upon the installation. Watching the fabrics fray and fade has brought new beauty to it for me. Seeing how it transitions across the two walls that it’s hung upon, from newer to older as the year has progressed, has been quite satisfying to me. I like this idea of “wabi sabi” in my work.
Where there times that you felt it a struggle to continue?
For the most part, no. Once I committed to it, I was surprised at how easy it was to keep going. This may be in part due to the fact that I was sharing a bit of the experience with others online through my blog, facebook, and flickr, so I had to keep going or recognize that I would fail publically.
But I also found that as I kept at it something within me changed, and I looked forward to the reflective time with God each day when I would look back on my day with thankfulness and gratitude. I found myself excited to start my day anticipating the beauty that I would see, and became more in tune to see it, I think.
Now that the project has finished, has its meanings changed?
I don’t think so, but I think that I’ve discovered some new significance that being thankful plays in my own life after having completed this project. Even though it was over after a year, my plan was to continue with the idea of being thankful in a similar, yet very different way. I was thinking more along the lines of possibly writing out a thankfulness haiku each day, or to sketch daily something that I was thankful for. So far, I haven’t done this and it feels a bit like floundering without the daily devotion of gratitude that I had become accustomed to. I’m thinking quite seriously about the importance of this now.
There is something else that I’d like to mention, and that’s how important a role others like yourself have played in this as I look back on it. When I started this project, as I mentioned earlier, it was really just a personal thing that I was attempting. But I met a lot of new people along the way that have offered a lot of encouragement and affirmation as I have worked on it. I am overwhelmed by the kindness of people from all over, like you Jacob, that I have not met personally, but have come along side me and supported me as I’ve done this project.
Is there anything you’d like to share?
If I were doing this interview audibly, you’d be hearing me chuckle right now, but I still have another wall that I can put some strips on, and if anybody wants to add a personal bit of their own thankfulness, my fabric and Sharpie pen are at the ready. The installation will be up at least through Easter of this year, or maybe longer, I’m not sure. Just email me and I’ll add you to the project.
Where on the web can we see more of your work? (flickr, website, blog)?
Valerie’s entire Thankfulness Set can be viewed on Flickr
and the beginning of the project on her blog.
it all started with this image from January 1st, 20122
Valerie’s entire Thankfulness Set can be viewed on Flickr