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In 2012 three friends – a poet, a fabric artist and an embroiderer – decided to collaborate on a creative work. Working from prompts, they met several times presenting, discussing and revising their works. Shown in Wichita and Kansas City in 2013, their work led them to a second collaboration, Semblance of Order, exhibited at Derby Public Library this past spring. The artist collective used Johnson County Library’s summer theme, Escape the Ordinary, to create their latest work currently on view.
Jeanine Hathaway, professor emerita, taught in the MFA Programs at Wichita State University and Seattle Pacific University. Her publications include Motherhouse, a novel, and two collections of poetry, The Self as Constellation and The Ex-Nun Poems. For this collaboration, Hathaway’s poems assume an “ordinary” subject and then work to escape it in seven lines. She chose the number seven because it organizes things: the length of a week, the number of Deadly Sins. It’s also a mystical number that indicates an extraordinary order. As visual art pushes against a frame, by limiting the number of lines, each poem is forced to explore a theme inside formal constraints. The seven lines provide ordinary order while the content tries to escape it.
Joyce Suellentrop works with fabric, thread and sometimes, fabric paint and ink. After thinking about the prompt and the levels of meaning, she decides on images to express the thought. She envisions the space and gradually fills in the images, colors and textures. This composition is then transferred to fabric and the stitching begins. For Suellentrop, the composing process is stimulating, stirring thought and imagination. The creative process – working with the shapes and spaces, seeing the parts and the whole, mastering new skills and completing the work – is meditative and satisfying. Suellentrop taught history at Newman University in Wichita and after retiring from teaching, was an archivist there. She continues to research and write, and is currently engaged in oral history and archival work. Suellentrop also serves on the Friends of the Wichita Public Library Board.
Beth Golay is a textile artist with a penchant for words, acquired from spending years in both the book industry and public radio. In addition to her collaboration work with Jeanine and Joyce, she is a founding member of the Ginger Rabbits artist group. For this exhibition, Golay framed her work around the question: if you had a super power, what would it be? After months of thought and consideration, Golay’s answer became: the ability to manipulate time. This body of work features places, events or actions in the artist’s life that – if given the ability to do over, repeat, better prepare or make time for – she would. The marathons that were not finished . . . or even started; the instruments she did not master; the places to which she did not travel . . . because she never made time to get a passport. These symbolize lost or wasted time, and Golay wants it back.