If you follow I Light's journey via social media accounts, facebook and instagram, you may have noticed I was up to something and there is a bit of a behind the scenes story how it evolved.
I saw my first loom on wheels while attending Mount Mary University's graduate art therapy program I interned at a Retirement community where we were hoping it would appeal to residents and increase relationships among assisted living and skilled nursing. By creating a space for the loom it grew and as it did barriers between assisted living and skilled nursing were breaking down as well. The process to be part of the loom looked different depending on cognitive and physical needs of each person but mistakes were embraced and so was a connection with others.
My first job after graduate school was in a Retirement community where I noticed exclusion among the different areas of care. As we explored ways of how our department could help increase building relationships among all the areas of care I suggested a loom on wheels. Knowing it was not in the budget to purchase I offered to build one and to be honest I was told it was a "stupid idea." So it went to the side...well at that time it did.....this was about four years ago.
Being in my own practice I Light started by providing services throughout the Grand Rapids area and I noticed the same issues:
A desire to belong
This reminded me of a class I took in undergrad at Seton Hill University called, Community Change where we looked at needs in the community and applied our knowledge to what materials to use, organizations and events to develop an art piece for community change.
While doing work in the Heartside neighborhood I noticed I never saw the same people outside of this neighborhood and this seems to be a lot of truth in several neighborhoods. I noticed at coffee shops where I would go in between appointments I saw the same people in the same areas. These areas feel comfortable and while there are strangers across time people have expressed they experience these same issues and have a longing for:
There is a Need
As a therapist, I am grounded in a person centered model in my practice so rather than looking at what is the need of the person I looked at what does the community need? I thought what is something I can do to help cultivate unity, inclusion and community in Grand Rapids? As if the loom idea could jump off the back burner and scream, "ME, ME, ME!!! I can bring unity, inclusion and community!"
I thought: well it may be possible.
While looking up the company I had known who had the looms on wheels I noticed they no longer carried them and I was not finding what I was looking for. So I went to the drawing board. Credit needs to be given to my Dad and his engineer mind to help me with the tools to help make my drawings come to life. This was a key component because for the first time did I feel like I was getting support in this endeavor.
Is it a stupid idea?
What went on in my mind....
During this time I connected with several organizations and businesses several to be honest never communicated back after several attempts on my end or weren't interested and I thought....oooo geez may be this is a stupid idea but then there were those that were on board. I thought well it's my idea, I designed and built it and I will own it perhaps I will become known as the girl who tried to build unity with a loom and that's ok with me. And then I thought well just because someone thinks my ideas are stupid has that stopped me before- my history clearly and evidently shows it has not. Over time as this piece has evolved I want to make sure to express appreciation for the more and more recent support I have received from yarn and fabric that has been donated to a friend over breakfast who expressed he thought the idea was genius where I laughed out and thought well lets not take it that far. But on a serious note-I'm so grateful.
How do I engage in the loom?
Yes, I will be walking around Grand Rapids with a loom taller than me with some scheduled dates and locations through the summer and fall time (dates TBA for the fall). This piece will travel throughout several neighborhoods in the Grand Rapids area and you are invited to engage in this community art piece at no cost by either:
Choosing a color of yarn or fabric that resonates with you and add as much as you would like to the tapestry
Take a piece of fabric and write a part of your story onto the material and weave your piece into the tapestry
All patterns, mistakes and colors are embraced. Each story matters because you help make Grand Rapids the community it is. So strangers across town who may have never met one another will have stories that are woven touching one another to create this tapestry just like our stories are intertwined to create this community.
Where will the loom be?
So if you see me walking around with a backpack full of yarn and fabrics and a loom over 5 feet tall on wheels please feel free to wave driving by, stop on by the scheduled dates and times located in the last image right below here, and the days I have pop up events I will post on our social media accounts. If you want to follow this journey, see where the loom shows up next and watch this piece evolve and grow make sure to follow us on social media. So come on down to any of I Light's Open Studio times, our scheduled events or pop up events and help become part of something bigger than ourselves.
Any questions can be directed to me via email: Leara.firstname.lastname@example.org and looking forward to seeing you around town!