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03 The story behind the kimono series

1509 The Red Kimono(small) - CopyMy kimono series started in earnest with my “Red Kimono”. For reasons far too complex for this missive, the kimono has become a symbol for me of the love and generosity and creativity of my big sister Mary Jean. Seven years my senior, MJ was my best friend growing up and taught me early basics about drawing and painting. When she went to college to study art, she brought home lessons that she in turn taught me and gave me a hunger to do art as well. Mary Jean became an art teacher and was just about ready to launch some full time serious efforts at her own painting after retirement when she lost her life in a tragic scuba diving accident in Puerto Rico. It is in her honor and with her inspiration, that I began this series. The challenge I put to myself was to use the kimono image and incorporate techniques used normally with textiles or fibers; techniques such as weaving or lace making or trapunto or quilting or chenille. Along the way, I would incorporate little things that are part of her accumulated memory as well as concepts that are currently of interest to me, such as my recent explorations of wabi sabi. Some hidden gems will remain known only to me. My goal is to complete at least ten before calling the series complete, though, actually if an idea strikes me years from now after two dozen kimonos have been completed, I will gladly add another.

Mary Jean Olivelli was a gifted artist and a wonderful teacher. Her children have given her an on-line presence featuring her paintings mostly inspired by her love of the sea, particularly shells and fragments of beach glass. You can view her work on a facebook page.

To view the images in my kimono series, put the word kimono in the search box on my home page.