This is the Upper School Art Show of the Mounds Park Academy in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The show is open from May 17 to June 3, 2011.

How do I know about it ? That is a real nice story.  One that happened thanks to Internet, quilting, a painting class of  15 students between 15 and 18 and their dedicated art teacher, Renee Sonka, in the heart of the Midwest, Minnesota.

From Africa to Switzerland and on to Minnesota/USA

or how African fabrics are  inspiring and travelling !

You may remember this quilt of mine, an African mosaic I posted on January 2009 as I started this blog.  It is a logcabin pattern made with countless scraps of fabrics I brought back  home after a stay in Africa with my family.

The art teacher, R. Sonka, had a particular project in mind for her painting class. It was entitled : AFRICAN TEXTILES as inspiration for mixed media paintings. The designed plans were to study the textiles, infuse mixed media, think about subject and meaning, become the composer, develop sketches and realize one’s  idea !

In addition the students were to create a larger collaborative painting where each of them would be responsible for small sections of the whole. Together with the picture of the  quilt, I had also posted a detail of it. This is what the students chose to create painted versions of sections of my quilt.


A few students are working on their individual compositions.

Developping sketches

Glimpse  of a larger panel that students are working on collaboratively. The quilt image has been divided up so that each one can contribute a section to the larger whole.

Drawing inspiration from patterns and colours in African textiles.

This is the collaborative painting of a section of my quilt ! I cannot express how honored, admirative and touched I am as I look at the work of those 15 talented students. They used acrylic paint on canvas. Never would I have imagined that my quilt could be such a source of inspiration. It is a beautiful project and you can all be very proud of all you achieved !

The other three pictures represent individual compositions designed by students. More inspiration from patterns, textures, colours found in African textiles. They used acrylic paint on plywood, some include other materials such as fabric, cardboard and raffia.

Panel created by Avalon Levey

Panel created by Greta Gangestad

Panel created by Annette

The art teacher, R. Sonka,  sent me all those pictures, for which I am very grateful and happy to share with you.  Thank you Renee for all your mails and details; without them I would probably not have been able to explain well enough the development of this great project.

This is the school Art Show that represents the drawing, painting and ceramics classes. A beautiful compilation of weeks of work, individual and collaborative. I like this concept very much.

Congratulations and much gratefulness to each and everyone who participated in this fantastic and creative project. With many good wishes for the continuation of your teaching and studies.

Here is a link about the Art Show and the Mounds Park Academy in Saint Paul/MN.

http://www.moundsparkacademy.org/news/arts/2011/05/upper-school-art-show-open-fro.shtml

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My hometown history

May 24, 2011

Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

My  hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I  have  enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town.  I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in.  My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.

As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian.  A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :

https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/ulysses-books/

This is the old part of Fribourg  on a rather grey day. The medieval town was  was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine  river  borders two areas in my country: the French and the German  parts.  Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students.  Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.

Various bridges cross the river meandering around the old town.

Apart from a winding road,  there is a funicular (1899) that connects the ancient town to the newer part above the hill. No motor but recycled water that acts as counterweight.

This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.

A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal.  Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies,  birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.

By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ? 🙂

Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country  in search of a job in town.  Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of  the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.

Just an old pub about one of my idols 😉  “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.

A window from another time… Pretty old dolls, second hand books, ancient CD’s and other fancy dusty objects.

Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…

… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”.  They were preparing for  a traditional celebration with members of their community,  an important one in our city.

Are you tired after the visit  ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures,  languages and times.  Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.

Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.

Another step in my WIP-quilt (work in progress). A passage quilt for a friend who passed one year ago. Little by little thoughts and memories come to mind and I add this or that piece to the vast puzzle of a life.

Excerpt of a letter received several years ago, memories of a particular day in someone´s life :

“I am at the beach with my family. I must have  been 10 years of age. A small and skinny boy.  I loved to swim and I’m swimming out … far. In my mind, I am swimming out so far where nobody will ever find me. I have swum out so far that everybody on the beach looks like tiny specks. I get the feeling that sharks are swimming near me and I frantically swim back as fast as I can. Once back on the beach I’ve got to run along the coast to find my family. I see one of my brothers and am relieved. I see that he has a bologna sandwich in his hand and I run to the car to get one myself. Seagulls are flying above and I toss a piece of bread up to them. The seagulls flock around, waiting for more. I take a slice of bread when my mom is not watching because she has told me to leave the birds alone. I am fascinated by them and want to catch one but they get in flight too fast for me. I watch them fight for a piece of bread and, as one seagull drops it, a mad rush to the sand ensues. I wrap a shell in bread and toss it up so a seagull will drop it. I run to catch a seagull as they come down but they quickly see me coming and I watch as they take flight. The sun has tanned me good. I attempt to bury myself in the sand and I watch the seagulls soar above me”.





There is a new photography challenge at Scott Thomas’  “Views Infinitum” :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/assignment-13-hometown-history/

Here is what Scott writes about it :

“This month’s assignment will be about Hometown History. Specifically, Your Hometown as in year’s past. Whether your hometown has centuries of history or less than a hundred years, you can find places, people, things and stories about its past.

Please, have your photos posted on or before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, May 25, 2011.”

Let’s all participate in this assignment and travel back to our hometown history.  Stagecoach is not mandatory 😉

Let’s find stories of our past and meet people who can share some of their memories and experiences.

Good luck to all and enjoy re-visiting your hometown !

Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day in Switzerland.  My own mother is no longer here but she will be  lovingly remembered indeed. This flower is for her;  her love of nature and flowers, her pleasure to sit in the garden,  inhale scents and let her eyes wander quietly over the greenery. She sometimes started telling of her younger years in the mountains she loved so much, a life of hard work that taught her a lot about nature, its beauty and dangers. I am happy to have written down much of all she shared although her words are in my heart forever.

The weeks preceding Mother’s Day are even more busy at  school over here… My sons always brought me lovely surprises  on the second Sunday of May. They still do but at that time there was mystery and secrecy, something they could hardly keep for themselves…”I have a surprise for you but you are not allowed to see it !”

The D-Day finally came  and  the suspense was relieved.  Both would wait till I woke and then present their gifts, nicely wrapped in a paper they sometimes  had created themselves. What an excitement  and impatience for me to open those treasures ! I received many, many wonderful drawings and gifts of all sorts, made with love and care;  I cherished them all. One of them is still in our kitchen : it is a small decorative wooden panel made for me in primary school. There was an original handmade  notebook on the right hand side that has been replaced countless times since then. Very handy. What still brings a smile whenever I write a note on my “to do list” is the poem one of my sons had composed for Mother’s Day on that particular year.

He had to find rhymes. For example : Isabelle/belle  – bruns/lapins – noir/loir – maman/tendrement. In English though it may sound a bit strange to your ears but so lovely to your heart 🙂

“Dear Isabelle,

How beautiful you are

With your  eyes

As brown as rabbits

And your  hair as black

As a   dormouse

This is just to tell you, Mama

That I love you tenderly “

The  French spelling is as creative as the images/rhymes he found and I just love the fact that his teacher left it untouched 🙂


To all mothers, mamans, mamas here and there  and elsewhere I wish a Very Happy Day filled with love, sharing, joy and gratitude.

With love

This is  quilt I sewed several years ago for a Mexican mama of many children who happens to be also a dear friend of mine, Fina.