Twenty-five women contributed to the first Group Stitching Mantra at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on August 22, 2009. Each person voiced one word or sound of their mantra every time their needle pierced the cloth of their embroidery hoops. Everyone seemed to enjoy stitching and connecting to their voice in community. People were energized by the experience.
When I listen to this recording I hear the group’s desire to harmonize and become one.
At the beginning all voices are in the person role except for the leader’s refrain HELLO – FRIENDS – HELLO, which opens in a member role voice.
Halfway through the recording many more voices can be heard shifting into membership role. Their words become more distinct and take on more authority. These voices seem to lead the harmony as others join with them.
I also hear a few voices punctuating the harmony with difference, but the difference is never fully joined to the point where chaos takes hold.
Two-thirds through the recording you can hear a climax (literally!) as the harmonizers seek to respond to a single voice that stands outside their group. The harmonizing energy rises to meet the difference and in this way the difference becomes integrated into the harmony as call and response. Afterwards the harmonizing continues, but on a slightly different path.
There are many voices that remain in person role, spoken quietly and never clearly enough to be heard. These voices blend to create an indistinct but pervasive white noise in the background. These person role voices only shift to member role as other members become silent. Another way to say this is that the member role is thrust onto them as more and more voices fall silent.
This particular Group Stitching Mantra ends with one such voice, barely audible, repeating the refrain LOVE – LOVE – LOVE, joined only with the breath of another member, as the rest of the group listens.
Finally I wonder if the session had gone longer, would there have been an uprising? What would it take, for members bored or frustrated with the pleasant message and comforting wall of tone that prevailed, to express a difference?