Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Celtic Cross and the Torah

I found out in the last hour that my very dear friend and amazing textile artist and teacher , Barry Goodman, died of cancer a month ago. I am in shock and feeling so sad that I was not here to be of help.

Barry and I had a friendship that goes back to my time at Capilano University. We made friends immediately. It was impossible not to. We were both carried away with the threads of textile creation. He was a year ahead of me and offered an incredible amount of support, information and stimulation for me at school. He was primarily a weaver and I was a surface designer. We were both carried away with more conceptual play. I was a hopeless weaver and ended up finding it very difficult to load my loom. He would come in late and patiently help me set up and correct my mistakes. All for a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie.

We left Capilano and Barry continued on to Concordia to get his M.A. and returned to teach at Vancouver Community College and to take over chairing the Weaver's Guild. He was successful and beloved.

Barry and I stayed in touch after school and sat down and tossed around ideas. He was honest enough to tell me when he found my work conceptually weak. He was honest enough to praise and respect me when it was good. He shared ideas. techniques, and struggles with me.

Barry had another side. All sides were lovely. He would not give panhandlers money. He would purchase meals in restaurants beforehand and would make up coupons and an agreement with restaurant owners that they were to feed the bearer of his coupon. The panhandler was to be able to come and go like any paying customer and no fuss was to be made except that which would normally go to a favourite customer. He preserved dignity.

Barry was also an incredible musician. He played all kinds of music but had a preference for Klezmer. His energy was gentle and very, very funny and clever.

He married Kym after he graduated from school. He took on both of her children and took his relationship with them as seriously and lovingly as he took on his relationship with Kym.

Barry's textile work is very intellectual and of spirit. He played with simple techniques like cross-stitch and told stories about the development of complex technologies and accomplished inventors, He broke down portraits into the most simple form using out of date and obsolete computer equipment. He wove Torahs. He was consistent and thoughtful.

Above my spice cabinet is a little cross stitch Barry made for me as a gift. I had done a project about my Irish Quebec family and spent time exploring Irish Montreal. The cross stitch is of the Celtic Cross that sits in my family's Catholic Church in Montreal. The Jews and the Irish Catholics lived side by side in the neighbourhood.

We all live and die. Some deaths hurt more than others. Some deaths remind us that we are here for a reason. Sometimes we are just lucky enough to have someone like Barry to help us thread our loom.

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