INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
From the novel:
". . . Before we started out for the ruins near Jauja, Maria* gave each of us a present -- me a piece of new canvas, lighter and finer than the one I had been using, saying that I might want to do something special, something quite singular upon seeing the ruins. Along with the canvas he gave me stone-colored and green-dyed vicuņa wool, beautifully soft, very fine-spun. I fingered it in my bag again and again as we walked, eager to begin a new design, to put those first exciting stitches into a fresh canvas. . .
. . . Arriving at the ruins, I took out the pristine canvas and, remaining there on the temple steps, I began to stitch single lines of the granite-grey wool Maria had given me. Pretty soon, a squared-off masculine head emerged. Then I added forty-one strands of green hair, as if he were a human quipu. The image amused me. I worked with great rapidity. Often when I stitch I do not realize the passage of time, and this was one of those occasions. I was not afraid."
The image of the stone head was actually inspired by a picture in the only Peruvian Art book in the Amherst Public Library which I found the day some colleagues and I went over from Blue Mountain Center to visit Emily Dickinson's home. I worked on Cantalloc throughout a year-and-a-half-20,000-mile-trip around the United States, and continued in Marin County as I began to study North Indian Classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music.
A number of my works, when not in tribal rug colors, have been intense explorations of green, wherein I try to capture the lushness, the almost unimaginable variety and beauty of the endless greens in nature. (Also, as a child, I always yearned for green hair.)
Leah Neal, a friend in Texas, sent me a Tibetan Eye Chart. It became the basis for the sun symbol beginning to emerge in the background. It is a reference to the Asiatic origins of early Americans. Because this pattern of slanted and round lines does not easily lend itself to the linearity of Needlepoint, I basted in the outline with silk thread. This was the beginning of my use of silk thread with Persian wool.
One day, in 1994, a friend, Judith Bang-Kolb, declared the needlepoint finished -- with the needle still in it. This is true to the inspiration. The character's needlepoint in the novel was stolen and, though recovered, never finished.
Cantalloc is in the care of my niece, Jana Samantha Holmes King Hawley McFee, an extraordinary musician who teaches at the Waldorf School, and elicits the sound of angels-singing from children. She also has the children play the gamelan with extraordinary success. Gamelan performances usually take place on my Oriental rugs, a perennial source of inspiration for my Textile Art. Again and again, Jana has been guardian to them while I am "out of town." She was also the first teacher to open my mind to formal/traditional structure in music and poetry.) Thinking of the gamelan suddenly reminds me of the single most memorable film I saw in my eleven years as Director of National Production Programs for the American Film Institute: Larry Cuba's TWO SPACE, a remarkable accomplishment of pattern in music, motion and design, which may have had a profound effect as a precursor to my next and almost endless project of needlepoints based on North Indian Classical music.
When I have finished THE TEN THATS, I still hope to do some textile work based on the music of the gamelan.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
II The Unicorn
III Green Pillow
VI Chinese Chair Pillow
VII Great Grandmother's Legacy
VIII Octagonal Beanbag
IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag
X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini
XI Asian Diary #2
XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag
XIV Eye of Horus Amulet
XV Erika Sachet
THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF
NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
IXX Tintal Coin Purse
XX Kaida, Tabla Covers
XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers
XXIII The Ten Thats