Shu-Ha-Ri is a philosophy about learning that is often discussed in the martial arts. Shu (follow) is about learning from a master and learning from tradition; Ha (breaking away) is about being knowledgeable enough about the foundation to discover exceptions. Ri (separation) occurs when the student has learned enough to transcend; although the journey of knowledge is never complete, the student begins to develop original work that takes the field farther. This is a rather simplistic explanation but I like this concept in learning about anything.
As I explained in my first post, I became interested in quilt history when I was given a number of old quilts. I always begin studying anything by reading. My process has always been that I get to a certain point where I raise questions not addressed in texts; then I go out into the world to seek more information. Trips to museums and quilt exhibits are helpful. One can only read about any kind of art for so long and then have to experience it up close and personal.
Which leads me to the reason of this post: The Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group.
When I was first studying quilts, I joined a quilt study group outside of Lancaster. Nine years ago, I started the Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group.
We meet in a suburb of Allentown and have two kinds of groups. The "Show and Tell" group allows us to look at actual quits that members or the community brings to us. We throw them on a large table and everyone gathers to see what we can see.
We learn from each other and from the quilt owners. We touch the quilts, check out the stitches, point out different fabrics and techniques that relay a time period. Our group does not provide appraisals, we don't sell goods, we simply look at the pieces and learn from the textile itself.
We meet at 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of even numbered months. Our members include quilt collectors, quilt novices, dealers, historians, and quilters. Some members bring quilts to review, others don't have quilts but simply want to learn. All are welcomed.
On the odd numbered months, we have a book group and this is particularly helpful to novices. We pick a book, read a chapter or two, then meet to discuss it. When we are lucky, members bring pieces that relate to what we have just read.
The philosophy of Shu-Ha-Ri doesn't imply that the path to knowledge is linear; it's more filled with curves, not unlike quilt history. Our world is a young field of history, often finding exceptions to assumptions which makes quilt study an exciting field.
So--if you are interested and...
If you have an old quilt and would like to bring it to the group, and/or-- if you are interested in taking the plunge and learning about old quilts by seeing and studying old quilts, email me and I'll send you the details of the group. Our next meeting is this week-- Thursday, December 17.
There's room at the table for everyone.
This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Betty Laura Klock Wilson (1920-2010), an artist who exemplified learning at every age. At 80 years old, she handed me a book and said, "You really must read this; it's quite good." The book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.