my blog or following
me on Instagram, you'll know
that I was planning to include my altered
Cotillion Dress in my current
solo show at AVA
If you've been
to AVA to find the dress,
you'll know that it's
me how the creative
process works, and how hard
it can be to separate one thread from
another when they all feel
integral to each
evolved from last
year's curiosity about how
I could share Walt Whitman's poem
"This Compost" in a colorful and affordable
manner by embroidering it on old
things, like a pillowcase or
a cloth diaper from
I listened to numerous
podcasts about art, women,
the climate crisis, racial justice and
the idea of white fragility. Each voice I heard
inspired me to rethink my past and
my relationship to it. And then
I remembered the white
dress in the attic...
it all began
because I love the
colors of compost and so
started taking pictures of it all the
time...until, magically, I had
what they call a 'body
of work' worth
what you love most just
has to stay home. In this case, I am
grateful that I gave my work to the Exhibits
Director at AVA and let her decide. The dress, even
though it seemed essential to the show for
me, just didn't fit and would have
been a distraction.
I am grateful
to this beautiful piece
of silk and lace for inviting me
to explore my own identity as a creative
person, not just with a camera,
but in life. The dress, as
cotton object that rips
when I touch it. It's
just a t-shirt,
No. It's more.
It contains memories:
My first years of marriage;
Playing squash with my husband;
Being in my 20's and feeling
invincible; It's so much
more than just
near and far, I got
out a needle, some light
purple thread, and got to work.
I want to wear this fragile
cotton shirt again.
I love it. It's
in our throw-away
society, mending matters.
And because it's cool
the art of
also known as Sashiko
When I love
something, I care for it.
When I love someone, I care
for them. Love takes time and patience.
It can be messy and slow and it
is always imperfect. But
it's possible. We just
have to show up
have a sense of humor.
For 26 years, I have only seen
colors, shapes, & an artist's signature.
When I told my husband about this project,
he asked: "Oh, your dancer shirt?"...
"My what? No, the one with
cool colors and
It turns out I had never
actually paid as close attention to
this shirt I love as much as my husband had.
Sometimes I guess we just see what we see. What's
cool is that I didn't feel anything like a
dancer back in the 1990's, but
I definitely do today. It's
now more perfect
to my mother for
teaching me how to sew.
Happy Mother's Day
I love climbing tree limbs and ladders.
I love curves, lines and textures.
There is something reassuring about light on metal...
and the reality that even with three inches of insulation, some heat gets lost.
It's hard to believe
that there are imperfections
with these perfect symmetries and designs.
But there are. Energy can not be created nor destroyed,
but it can be transferred between objects,
along the way.
just the reality of
how things work and why, even
with a relatively upgraded heating system, this vent
on the north side of our living room
doesn't provide much
Isn't it beautiful
to see the unseen, to honor
what is functional and elegant? That's
what climate action at home
is all about for me.
Celebrated in the UK. For
most people it means a day to hang
out with family, eat leftovers and enjoy gifts
given and received. But historically, it was also a day
to give "Christmas Boxes" to the servants, who would go home
and celebrate Christmas with their own families after
having cared for you on the 25th.
Or, perhaps the
term 'Boxing Day' comes
from the nautical tradition whereby
great sailing ships carried a sealed box of money
for good luck which, upon return, would be given to a priest
who would distribute the money to those in
need on the day after Christmas.
Here in New England,
we get back to work - - there is
no "Bank Holiday" for us. But over the past
decade, I have created my own "Boxing Day" tradition.
Photographs that are labels on Christmas Day, or beautiful holiday cards
become decorations on a box the next. And all that wrapping
paper gets a longer life, glued to a sneaker
box or packing box and used
year after year.
It started with
a desire to save paper and
reduce holiday waste. But over time,
it became something more - - A kind of compulsion
to fix what I had using materials at hand -
not just cards and paper,
but fabric as well.
One year, I redid
our recycling container.
The next, I created boxes to use
for grocery shopping. They were so admired
at our food co-op, I made some as gifts
for the clerks. Apparently one of
the boxes is now the bed
for a very happy cat.
What makes me happiest,
is that my son and daughter love to
find their custom gift boxes under the tree.
No need for labels. And certainly no
need for new wrapping paper.
It's become a tradition - -
own Boxing Day.
To me, that's what makes our
current time so inspiring. There are opportunities
for the creative re-making of the world as we know it.
As I discovered with a bunch of cards, paper
and fabric, beauty is everywhere.
What might you create or
discover this last
The Spruce: What is Boxing Day?
Why is this blog called By Degrees? Because...
Change happens in increments...until it doesn't;
We need to look at the world from many angles;
More people experience damage to their tissue because of the sun's increased power;
There are many educated people with lots of diplomas,
yet we still can't get along or figure out how to solve our current climate crisis;
There is a difference between 2 and 1.5 degrees celsius.
Maybe it's time to literally 'reframe' the narrative.
Why not have a proverbial 'do-over' and see what emerges?
We have degrees.
We are separated by just a few degrees.
We can have a 10 degree perspective or a 360 degree perspective.
We feel the heat.
It's time to look within and recompose our shared story.
Because change happens in logical steps and stages...
until it doesn't.
Evelyn R. Swett celebrates
how creativity and climate action converge to inspire joy
and new ways of being.
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