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16 years! Home, Maine, HOME!

When I arrived in Maine 16 years ago today, to move into our house in Camden (we moved from there to neighboring hope in 2011), I did not know that after 46 years of wandering the globe and living on four continents, I had finally found what I always wanted: HOME!

After the storm, just a couple of days ago, from our front porch

Maine has become my muse and my soul’s home. Within two years, I made this quilt which flowed out of me effortlessly. In such a short time, I had become Maine’s and Maine had become my heart’s true home.

A Sense of Place: The Wall

When I grew up on the West Coast, everyone said that the West Coast was friendly, open, welcoming, made up of newcomers. Yet as a 6 year old arriving from Argentina, it wasn’t. The leader of the Brownie troupe wouldn’t let me join because we hadn’t lived in California long enough. Children told me I wasn’t a Californian and never would be because I wasn’t born there. Quests for better schooling let my mother to move me from school to school: Bayside, Central, Grenada, Del Mar and finally San Domenico all in the time from January of First grade to the start of 7th grade. I didn’t belong and never did. From College until age 46, I moved. And moved. And moved. All work, but still. No place to feel HOME.

Yet when I moved to Maine, where there was supposedly the vaunted “Yankee reserve,” I was welcomed with open arms even though I am indeed “from away.” Long time Mainers and others from away welcomed me equally. Quilters welcomed me and gave me a home. I began my quilt art and teaching career here. And this year, I was honored, humbled and thrilled to learn that one of my quilts will hang at the Bicentennial Exhibit to celebrate Maine’s 200th anniversary of Statehood at the Maine State Museum in August as one of Maine’s contemporary quilts. Everything has, of course, been delayed by COVID, but there will also be a book and I’m in it, with thanks to Laurie LaBar, head of Textiles (and other things) at the Museum. Did you know where I live was part of two states (sort of)? The District Of Maine was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when the colonies became the first 13 states in the Union in 1776. In 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, Maine became a separate state.

Over the past few years I have been making work inspired by the world around me, including Lupines.
Rose Hip, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2019. 36″ square. One of my favorite quilts, in part because it is of my beloved Maine, but also because I’ve been able to meld my personal hand dyes, a hand dye by Lisa Walton, fabrics printed and over-painted by me, to create a cohesive image.
My beloved apple tree, on the lower part of our driveway. This WILL become a quilt! A big one.

My goal is to make an exhibit’s worth of quilts celebrating the world around me. Guess I’d better stop blogging and get back to the studio. I am forever grateful to be here with my husband, two sons Joshua and Eli, my third-child-by-another-mother DIL Ashley, and all the various critters past and present and future that share our lives.

From dog walkies this week. Always the world changes and is the same. It inspires me, it fills me with joy and awe and hope.

6 Responses to “16 years! Home, Maine, HOME!”

  1. Martha Ginn Says:

    I loved reading your tribute to Maine. Your Wall quilt has long been a favorite of mine. I’ve only been to Maine once, but what a glorious time–a week in Portland with Susan Carlson in 2017. Wishing I could see more of your beautiful state!

  2. Frieda Says:

    That was a lovely tribute and so heartfelt. I feel somewhat envious of your sense of home. You are very lucky.

  3. Beth H Says:

    I know the Cali outsider feel… Every time I moved back to the state, I had to battle for my residency status, (never knew my home state until I was 7 and I really felt like a foreigner there!!!). Now, I think I have evolved enough to call wherever I live- HOME! It is up to me to LIVE and thrive where I am planted. Some places more than others!!! But like you –I think the rural farm life is meant for me!!!

  4. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Aw Frieda, Thank you! The sense of home is because for so many it is something taken for granted. I have a BFF who has lived her life in Maine. When something is old or tired, she easily tosses / donates / releases it. For me, I have kept things as the THINGS have been the only constants in my life–I can remember them as a child, where they have been in different houses and places. I realized after some years Kathy’s ability to release things is because she is secure in who she is, where she belongs, her place in the family (eldest and daughter and now matriarch of the extended family). And I have discovered as I have become more secure in my sense of self (in my 50s! but better late than never), at long last I can let some stuff go. Still working on the rest of it LOL! HUGS to you. Find HOME in your heart…it is there.

  5. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Fascinating that it isn’t just me. And yes, home is where I am… and we all choose (as Vivika Hansen DeNegre says, today is a choice), and I choose to make art and be me and love and care…. but it has taken a long time for me to get to the point where I can see all of that. Hopefully you and I’ll have many more years to thrive where I am planted!

  6. Sarah Ann Smith Says:

    Well if you DO make it back up here, for heaven’s sake let me know and I’ll come to wherever you are and take you on a road trip!