I grew up watching my Grandmother recycle – everything! Nothing in our house was ever wasted...
With this current series of work I began to remember her, and her surgeon's skill for dissecting old garments. First, off came the buttons. Then any interesting adornment. Finally, out came the thread. Every bit it took to construct the garment.... I don't know how she managed but there would be at the end a neat pile of it. Strong. Relatively unbroken. Ready for reuse. Perhaps even with the same fabric it would show up again as a pillow cushion -- or even kitchen curtain trim. An unknown health issue left my Grandmother handicapped as a young woman, yet I never heard her lament her fate. Quiet and self assured, she taught me how to use color, unbridle my imagination, and to be courageous and independent... American poet William Stafford says: "There's a thread you follow [your entire life]. It goes among things that change. But it doesn't change... While you hold it you can't get lost...."

In January, I discovered Anne Bethel Spencer, a Harlem Renaissance poet. Anne was the first African-American to have her poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry. Also an activist for equality and educational opportunities for all, she hosted such dignitaries as Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Weldon Johnson, and W. E. B. Du Bois in her home, and her now famous garden.

The above image is called Edankraal: Anne's Garden. It celebrates Anne and the pleasure -- even safety -- she found in her beloved garden sanctuary called Edankraal (combining the first names of her husband Ed and her own in a pun on "Eden" and grafting in the South African term Kraal or dwelling). For over fifty years she wrote there every afternoon in the small cottage Ed built for her. It was the place she made sense of and peace with the world that brewed around her.

....I look at the string of consciousness that has lead me to this point in my work and smile. I think my Grandmother would approve...

To learn more about Edankraal and how to tour the house and gardens click here.

IMAGES, Top: Edankraal: Anne's Garden 2010;
Mixed Media Handmade Raw Silk / Abaca Paper, embedded with textiles / threads, antique lace, and acrylic paint. approx. 18"W X 32"H (Will be on view at: Visual Alchemy -- see details below in "Exhibits featuring my art" section).
Above left: A young Anne Bethel Spenser.
Left: My maternal grandmother Esther Marion Webster.


  1. ... I totally enjoyed reading this entry. I leaned a lot and plan to travel this summer to visit the home place of my new discovery. Keep posting Sister Nichol, I always enjoy your art and your post.

  2. This is beautiful !!! ...thanks for celebrating my Mother, your grandmother!!! Love, Momma

  3. Rosalind,

    This is absolutely gorgeous! Your art is so amazing-no doubt your grandmother would have loved it too:)!



  4. This was a lovely post. How wonderful your Grandmother was Green before it was a trend. She was lovely. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.