As cliche as it is, the whole “wealth of opportunities you’ll never get anywhere other than college” thing, it’s true. We have these incredible chances to hear from people leading theirs fields, eager to share their knowledge with us, as students, and the community at large, and Whitman is that center to bring these wonderful people all the way to Walla Walla.
I recently went to a visiting artist lecture and it bolstered my faith in attending these events. I have yet to be disappointed. This artist, Docey Lewis, was an amazing testament to what one can do in a lifetime, and the sheer depth and breadth of knowledge acquired through pursuing passions and the power of following this serendipitous thread of opportunity. She said of her serial abandonment of higher education, “I don’t recommend dropping out, but I did.” She stayed long enough to get what she needed, and moved on with her personal quest.
She is a weaver and specializes in textiles, traveling all over the world, collaborating with locals in Madagascar and Nepal and Bangladesh, utilizing the local materials and knowledge of the people to produce unique, sustainable textiles that necessitate this union of minds and hand. She was dropping names right and left- placemats for World Market, pillows for Pottery Barn, wallpaper for the Obama White House- you name it, she’s done it.
Listening to her talk with so much passion and energy about the amazing number of different projects and programs she’s created or been a part of, it was so clear to me that this was someone that was so incredibly lucky, and seemed to always be in the right place at the right time, and coupling that with this drive and desire to make things resulted in her weaving empire.
This woman who went from playing with the loom in the attic of her childhood home to building a loom in every country she traveled to- full of such wonderful stories and experience that one can only get from living in it. It was such a privilege to be thrust into the creative whirlwind that was her life, and one facilitated by this special place we have come to learn.