Invested with Meaning
in-‘vest Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Latin investire to clothe, surround, from in- + vestis garment
a : to array in the symbols of office or honor b : to furnish with power or authority
Anita Luvera Mayers’ Silk Safari
|Through the ages, cloth has had significance beyond warmth, protection, or decoration. Across cultures and across the ages, people have known that to clothe was to furnish with power and meaning. Liturgical weaving, uniforms, robes of office are the vestments of spiritual and organizational significance, but everyday people have long used cloth to celebrate the stages of life: birth, coming of age, marriage, life achievements, death and mourning. Meaning is represented in colors, materials and weave structures (silk and satin, sack cloth and ashes), and through motifs and symbols.
As modern weavers, we have the now rare power to create meaning out of whole cloth, beginning with the very threads. Anita Mayer’s kimono, Silk Safari, which some of you were lucky enough to see at Convergence, is a stunning example of how we can express the meaning and stages of our own lives through our art. Anita described the piece to us in her own words, and I’m sure you’ll be as inspired by its story as I was.
“The rya knots of silk were hand-dyed selvedge scraps from silk futons, given to me by the manufacturer. The tapestry within the robe includes a mix of fibers (silk, wool, rayon, cotton) also hand dyed. The inspiration is as follows: In Mongolia it is believed that what a man or woman born in the steppe first sees is the eternal sky, and for this reason, the dreams and sorrows of the Mongols are represented by sky blue colors. Ovoos are also part of this culture, a shamanistic cairn often found at the top of mountains and in other high places that travelers circle three times to ensure a safe journey. A blue ceremonial silk scarf is tied to a stick or branch at the ovoos to honor the setting and to symbolize the importance of the open sky. Silk Safari honors that tradition with woven silk strips dyed in sky blue colors. The reverse of the garment features tapestry designs symbolizing my personal pathways and to ensure that in the coming years I will have a safe journey.”
We’d love to hear how you have expressed life’s passages and celebrations through your handwoven cloth. It you’ve woven a baby blanket, wedding gift, garment, or decorative textile that has significance in your own life or the life of your family, please send us a picture and its story. We look forward to sharing in your weaving journey.