A Gift from the Left Hand – Day 107

[Today’s featured artwork for Day 107 of the 365 Days Project is by Francelise Dawkins.]

Textile collage of a group of people by Francelise Dawkins
“Community Gathering Series #14” by Francelise Dawkins. Photo courtesy ©Francelise Dawkins.

The right brain, the left hand and a gift of intuitive creation…

#107 – Although Artists can be left- or right-handed, the Artist Mind is linked to the left side of the body and in certain cultures, left-handed dominance is considered a gift.

As a right-handed artist, I’ve heard many stories from my left-handed friends whose early educational experiences taught them to deny their dominant side in order to conform to a largely right-handed world. In French, the word for “left” is gauche, which means awkward, while “right” (droit) is related to the word adroit, meaning “dexterous”, representing a pervasive view of the negative connotations often associated with the left hand.

Among many indigenous tribes, however, left-handed people have always been revered as they were believed to possess the ability to heal. Native Americans often say that spiritual and mystical visions originate in “the left side” (meaning the left side of the body, rather than referring to the right side of the brain.)

Francelise Dawkins is a left-handed artist who creates textile collages developed from a meditative concept for interior designs which she calls “Silkollages”. These fabric collages are embroidered into miniature quilts, framed into window boxes or, when large and three-dimensional, become hanging art quilts or soft installation pieces.

"Migrative Spirit" quilt by Francelise Dawkins
“Migrative Spirit” by Francelise Dawkins. Photo courtesy ©Francelise Dawkins.

As I researched her creative path, I came across an essay she wrote for Margaret Blanchard’s book on creative intuition, From the Listening Place, and discovered the story behind her creative process.

Francelise Dawkins grew up in Paris, France and her early creative memories were of her mother creating dancers’ costumes on her pedaled sewing machine, filling Dawkins’ world with fine fabrics, dance and music. Her desire to create was strong and she wanted to learn to sew, but being left-handed in an era where such a thing was completely unacceptable, her would-be mentors “could not bear to look at me apply their skillful teaching in such a ‘gauche’ fashion,” as she says. “I complied with their expectations and mostly observed or tried to explore on my own, secretly cutting fabric with the forbidden hand.”

So while her right hand had been “civilized” into writing, her left hand began developing the gift of cutting.

Dawkins eventually left the Paris of her childhood and emigrated to the United States. “Away from my inhibiting culture, I found the courage to actualize my textile art,” said the artist. “It seemed natural to choose the medium of collages to bring my creativity beyond its cutting edge.”

Abstract and representational life forms as dancing shapes began to multiply in her work, and as her creative expression evolved, Dawkins added “Ethnikollages” to re-activate and explore her cultural interests. “I began drawing forms out of colorful cloth from Asia, Africa and Europe to visually create a blurring of boundaries between the variety of cultures,” she said. “If my playing on fabric brings viewers to rethink the multiplicity expressed, an expansion of their own true awareness might occur.”

“I am on a spiritual exploration,” said Dawkins, “deepening my sense of what it really means to belong to the human race. It is about exploring that sense of oneness, born out of welcoming our differences.”

Thankfully, left-handedness is no longer “rehabilitated” in our Western culture, and perhaps a better understanding of the right-brained child is not far behind. Francelise Dawkins’ work is a reminder of how this acceptance could expand to a greater appreciation of the differences in all of us.

SerenaK signature

Quilted collage by Francelise Dawkins
“Sanctuary of the Still Waters” by Francelise Dawkins. Photo courtesy ©Francelise Dawkins.

Francelise Dawkins’ artwork can be viewed at: Francelise Dawkins.

Descriptions of the images included in this article:
Community Gathering Series #14
Francelise Dawkins, New York
Cotton textile collage on archival paper

Migrative Waters
Francelise Dawkins, New York
Cotton art quilt with textile collage

Sanctuary of the Still Waters
Francelise Dawkins, New York
Cotton hanging: quilted textile collage on board

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.

Click to view The 365 Days Project

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