An Exercise in Windows
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels
Prompt Against Anxiety #2 | from Woodland Pattern Art Director & co-founder of Split Fountain Press Marla Sanvick.
In his poem “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” Richard Wilbur writes of being startled awake by the sound and vision of someone pulling a clothesline full of laundry past his window. Bedsheets and smocks and blouses swell with air and in a half-dream the scene fills his mind with angels. Of course, no angels are truly there. The experience is gorgeously and completely human.
When reading this poem, it’s easy to be stricken by how one must simply go with Wilbur to his window. We bear witness to the beauty of laundry billowing on a line and can feel a more poignant connection to the moment when human consciousness slides from dreaming sleep to fully awake. We can also observe how imagination conjures the world around us into highly personal stories that can be easily shared.
Another way to bring someone to your window, to your particular and singular view, is through drawing. The routine of isolation can be numbing, so take this moment to tune in to your awareness of the windows in your home. Go to one that pulls you in. There is a reason—but what?
Take a seat at your chosen window with a square piece of paper or a digital artboard in hand. Draw what you see. Include the window frame and provide the whole scene. Take time; it, too, fills the window as it fills your mind. It’s not angels you see—what is it? Is anything blocking the view? What can you still see through this obstruction? Is your view a brick wall, or siding? A tree, or a window into someone else’s home? Consider the time of day, the season, the features that most call to you in the present moment.
As surely as this virus reveals our interdependency as a species, our individual experiences of it will continue to differ radically. Acknowledging that difference, that experiential frame, is a step toward our collective survival. What can a pandemic teach us about windows? That our lives depend on seeking truth and sharing information—i.e., listening to one another, practicing the art of nonviolent communication, and taking the time and patience to consider more deeply what each one of us sees.
In the absence of each other’s in-person company, we can still invite each other into one another’s homes, still share our views. No two of them will be identical, though each of us partook in the same exercise. Meditate on this; it is remarkable. And it mirrors our experience of this pandemic.
So, in the spirit of our coming together while apart, and in celebrating a future when we can commune again in person, we would like to take this exercise a step further. We invite you to share with us photographs of your drawings either via email below or to social media, tagging @woodlandpattern and #promptsagainstanxiety, or by mailing your original to Woodland Pattern.
The only constraint we ask you to follow is dimensional—please send us a square. (If taking a photograph, please also make sure it's sufficiently lit.) All drawings we receive will be exhibited online, where we will turn them into a virtual quilt. Upon reopening, we hope to then unveil the real thing—with each drawing screen-printed onto its own square of fabric. Please note that there is currently no deadline to submit your drawings. We'll continue to gather and display them throughout our closure. We hope to hear from you soon.
We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami (Big Lake), part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present.
720 E. Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414 263 5001
Hours: Tues–Fri | 11-8pm
Sat & Sun | 12–5 pm | Closed Mon
Contactless pick-up: Wed–Sat | 2-6 pm
Building Accessibility: Despite the age of our physical location, and attendant limitations to access, Woodland Pattern is committed to making its programs and facilities available for as many as possible. Please call for more information.
Events Accessibility: Woodland Pattern is in the process of obtaining captioning services for its online events and can provide ASL interpretation for live events. Please contact us with accommodation requests and questions.
© Woodland Pattern 2020