An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

Artists' perspectives series - Part 1

Spokewoven's Genga is truly an inspirational artist; her giant dreamcatchers are sure to catch your eye as well as your dreams. Not only is she innovative and talented, but she is also immensely insightful. She's a college graduate whose life took a dramatic turn toward fulfilling a lifestyle of creativity. Her story of letting the magic of creativity take over and become her career is thought-provoking, and it makes you wonder about your meticulously planned out career path. I was fortunate enough to ask her a few questions in order to gauge her perspective on the importance of creativity in everyone's lives.

Stephanie Haenn: I’ve been admiring your work for a few years, now — from afar. It is a pleasure to finally get to talk to the creative mastermind behind the massive dreamcatchers. Your work is visually captivating and spiritually inspirational. Where did you get the inspiration to create giant dreamcatchers?

Genga: You are so kind. Thank you for your really lovely words. I guess almost 8 years ago now, I lost my job. It was literally the job I thought I'd spend the rest of my life doing and then, all of sudden, it was just gone. I was in complete despair. A black hole. It was awful. I couldn't imagine myself ever moving on. At the same time, my best friend, Pamela Love, was launching her first jewelry collection and doing an installation at Milk Studios in NYC. She sat me down, and basically told me to pull myself together- I was too talented to wallow away and she said I want you to make me the biggest Dreamcatcher in the world for my presentation. I had no clue how to even begin -- but something guided me. It took me several days to figure out the weave (and it wasn't very good haha) but I put my whole heart into that piece. For Pam and for myself and for the scared art that I could feel was already healing me. That was the first one. It changed my life. It saved my life. It was what started me on a new path and was the beginning of what I see very clearly now as my true identity.

SH: The traditional Native American purpose of dreamcatchers is to capture nightmares. As an artist, you have the liberty to define your work. Do you intend any purpose for your pieces beside their aesthetic value? Do you think that if your clients use your art outside of the realm of traditional Native American intent for dreamcatchers that they are guilty of cultural appropriation?

Genga: What is amazing about the experience of making these pieces is that the vision is completely collaborative with every client. There are some people who have trouble with rest or nightmares, but there are also people who want to celebrate the life or death of a loved one, pay homage to a friend or mentor, cherish a new born baby and protect them. It is always a unique vision and there is always something very sacred and personal in each piece.

SH: On your website, you say that making dreamcatchers is “cathartic and healing and full of growth and spiritual connection.” It sounds like you truly love what you do. Did you always want to be an artist growing up? Could you explain the catharsis making dreamcatchers affords you?

Genga: I wish I was so cool to have grown up wanting to be an artist haha. I think I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? I was born in the 70's and grew up in the 80's and 90's. I ended up really moving towards literature and creative writing in my college years and had decided I was going to be a screenwriter when I graduated. I applied to graduate schools and got into the Masters Film program at Boston University. I guess in hind sight I always liked to do creative things- but I never really honed in on it, because it just wasn't realistic. I have very pragmatic parents who sort of weaned me in a practical direction rather than a dreamy one. Not that I have any resentment about that. I believe these things happen to you at exactly the right moment. I have worked my butt off and I still do - working a full time executive level day job and having this beautiful part of me to explore and grow in the other time.

When I was in film school I always dreamed of being like Maya Deren. Queen of the avant-garde, master of cool. And I was really good at watching and critiquing films, but when it came to making them, I don't know that I had that "thing" that makes you great. That vision. It was a very expensive lesson to learn, but I wouldn't change a thing about my decisions. Graduate school shaped my perspective in a way that would never have happened anywhere else.

SH: I first came across your work when flipping through Foam Magazine on the beach, the vibrant colors of a massive dreamcatcher tugging at my vision. Tucked into the corner of the page boasting a spread on Mara Hoffman, perched your work. The image stuck with me, and even inspired me to learn how to make my own dreamcatchers, though they are not nearly as beautiful as yours. The article didn’t mention the beautiful dreamcatcher decorating Hoffman’s office, so it took me a little while to finally find out who the artist was. I later put a name to the dreamcatcher when I found one of your pieces on the Urban Outfitters website. Your collaborations are always beautiful. Do you have a favorite collaborator?

Genga: I'm sure your Dreamcatchers are awesome! I've loved every collaboration I've done -- there has always been a lot of learning and vision. And a shared vision is always opens new perspectives. I did love using Mara Hoffman's fabrics. That was very cool.

SH: Your work always includes natural elements such as rocks or feathers. What is your favorite material to incorporate into your dreamcatchers?

Genga: My favorite materials are the hand dyed fabrics, crystals and arrowheads. I love to really get dirty making a piece and I dye the fabric in the bath tub (my husband helps me too) and we get just covered. The bathroom turns that color and we are basically enveloped and living in the color of the client's vision. It's kind of wild. And I love the stones. They have such power and meaning. I love working with people to create the perfect balance of crystals and stones on their piece.

SH: As a college student who isn’t studying art, it can feel suffocating to be learning solely through books. I often crave a creative outlet and dream for an artistic purpose. Obviously, your dreamcatchers invoke a yearning to dream. What advice would you give to young, creative dreamers?

Genga: Let your dreams be boundless and undefined. Let them break the rules in your brain.

SH: On a more serious note, college students are often active advocates of social reform and active participants in political discourse. Do you think creativity plays a role in the pressing movements of our nation?

Genga: Absolutely! I think creativity is crucial in terms of crafting solutions to our constantly evolving world. From environment to education to equality, health and economy - creative perspective and vision is what will take us into the future successfully and full of growth. I think the amazing thing about creating is that from ideation to completion the object is changing and layering -- morphing into whatever it is that it will become. Allowing your mind to move with that process is what I believe adds all those levels of truth that guide us to form our beliefs and passions.

SH: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. You are truly admirable and inspirational!

This is the first installment of a series of articles emphasizing college students' need for creative satisfaction. The purpose of this series is to derive an inkling of inspiration for busy college students in order to drive home the assertion that there is more to life than constantly having your nose in your textbook.

Cover Image Credit: One Kings Lane

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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