Wednesday, 15 June 2016

in Odessa

sounds like the title to a novel set in the cold war, doesn't it?
(you might want a cup of tea or a gin, this post is about as long as a novel)

sometime late in 2014 or early in 2015 (i forget exactly when)
i received an enquiry through my contact page
asking whether i would be interested in having a solo exhibition
at the Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, Texas

i thought about it for twenty seconds and answered "yes, please" 

but whenever i mentioned the plan to others, 
in response to a "what are you doing next?" question, 
i'd get some very strange answers
such as
"i was born there but left as soon as i could"
"there aren't any trees"

which was a bit off-putting.

so i'm here to tell you that my Odessa adventure was absolutely fabulous. 
i met some of the kindest people i have ever encountered there, 
was warmly welcomed
given free reign (and every support) to create my installation
liked it so much that i have promised to go back.
they have a replica Stonehenge 
(not created as a tourist trap but with a really good backstory)
and there ARE trees.
also the most glorious collection of mid-century modern architecture
(which just happens to be my favourite architectural period) 

AND the water, though undrinkable, is miraculous in the dyepot.
the water in the puddles is useful too. 
i marinated a piece in it, prior to dyeing (using local colour)

during my stay i also guided a group of young people taking their first steps into natural dyeing, through the Teen Art Residency program, a splendid initiative of the Museum's education section

though we only had five half-day sessions we made string, dyed samples, stitched (by hand) hoodies from pre-loved t-shirts, printed paper, cut an apron from a shirt and even dyed Easter eggs, though obviously that feast didn't fall last week

and then we worked together to install their exhibition

and here are a few more snaps of mine

a big and heartfelt thank you to 

Daniel Zies :: Curator
Annie Stanley :: Education and Outreach Coordinator

 Edgar and Eric at
for their generous donations of eucalyptus for the exhibition
and "green waste" for the residency

and to everyone who so kindly welcomed me.
i loved every minute i was there. 

and i'll be back.


coincidentally, as i was composing this post, a missile wandered in from Maya Stein
(at which point i should also say thank you, Christi, for introducing me to her!)

at the entrance

I've never believed what they say about strangers. I have walked into
a Nebraska town so many miles from home and been fed ambrosia salad,
offered a place to sleep. In Centennial, Arizona, they asked me to read poetry,
opened a bottle of wine to toast my arrival. There was a living room in Houston
where a woman I'd never met shared a difficult secret, and her eyes softened
in the telling. There are doors we insist, despite the risk, on keeping open, and doors
we insist, despite the risk, on walking through, and I don't want to imagine a world
where the houses stay shuttered and silent, and the front stairs splinter, and the bell
goes rusty from disuse. So there is no other choice but to clamber up, point our heart
at the entrance, press the buzzer, and wait for who will come to let us in.


  1. I guess I am first over here so may I be the first to say that I think this whole entire exhibit paired with teaching in the teen's Residency program is absolutely glorious! Oh, to think how my own young life might have been changed for the better having met such a principled & inspired teacher as you, India - they are so LUCKY those young folks.

    All is BEAUTIFUL ... in every sense of that fine word.

  2. it's absolutely brilliant, the whole thing, AND the poem goes so well with what you do

  3. May I second what Sweetpea and Jane W said? Those incredibly fortunate young ladies! Do you think they realize what an incredible experience they just had? I hope so. And you! Odessa, TX...who would have thought it would be such a wonderful place. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was a good reminder that the best way to travel is always to go with an open heart, and not to be influenced by other people's preconceptions...and that nothing sets the tone like a really heartfelt welcome! My visit to Odessa is something I will treasure for so many reasons.

  4. I hit the wrong button and lost my comment! It went along the lines of: What amazingly fortunate young women they were - they will remember that experience for infinity - you have sewn/sown seeds deep inside. That journey would have been the best for all concerned, and the poem was so apt . . . . now back to my own little cauldron xx

  5. And that exhibition looks amazing. Yours and theirs.

  6. Oh this, this is what teaching is for me. Thank you <3