Every Person is a Philosopher

Whenever I have traveled to Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, I have taken postcards from members of Postmark’d Art with me. I pass them around after lectures. I love how you can feel the excitement in the air as the postcards are passed from person to person. This was especially true at the University of Art in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. I ended up staying an extra hour as the students studied them and asked questions. I wish I could go back and see what they have created.  If you would like to know more about my adventures the Neighborhood Writing Alliance invited me to be a guest blogger on their blog Every Person is a Philosopher. I am deeply honored to have been asked and to be able to share my story. From the feedback I am getting, it has changed many people’s view of today’s quilts. Here is just a little taste. With gratitude, Karen Musgrave

Ira Lavinenko, from Georgia, with her quilt "The Woman"

Feel the fear and do it anyway. That is exactly what I did when I accepted the invitation to present a paper and teach at the Third International Textile Symposium in Tbilisi, Georgia (Eurasia) in 2003. After all, my life’s mission is to change the world for the better with quilts. My quilt workshops were such a success, with nearly every student finishing at least one small quilt. I found out at the closing ceremonies that this was very rare. I also was able to form the Georgian Quilt Group. and I promised to support the group with supplies and return trips. I have made four additional trips so far, and I plan to return again next year.
When I asked the women why the making of quilts seemed to resonate with them, I got a variety of answers. For some, it was working with the colorful fabrics that I shared (colorful cotton fabrics just are not available in Georgia). For others, it was my enthusiasm that won them over. For others, it was the learning of a new skill. And for all, it was an opportunity to be together in the creation of art. Each time I have return to Georgia, in addition to teaching the quilt group and others, I work with locals to create programs that empower women and children to learn new skills and earn much needed income. (Two examples are a quilting project in an orphanage, and another with street children.) I do not teach “American” quilts, instead I teach techniques so that my students can share their own unique point of view/story. I love learning about cultures and want my students to embrace theirs…

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