There are times when someone crosses your path and changes your life forever. They come along and join you on your journey, brightening each step as you move forward in life together. Sometimes it’s for many years and unfortunately, sometimes it’s cut short by circumstances that are out of our control. This is how we feel about our friend, Tara Kiley Rothwell, who passed from this Earth on June 29th, 2021.
I first met Tara at a Christmas party that was hosted by my childhood friend. Tara and her husband Mike lived across the street. We started talking about weaving and Tara mentioned that weaving was something that she has wanted to do for a very long time. I suggested that she come to one of my beginning weaving classes and I would give her the basics to get started. March the next year was the beginning of our friendship. Tara showed up early on the first day of beginning weaving class. She was wearing a scarf that she had purchased from a local weaver. “This is what I would like to weave someday,” she said.
We had a wonderful class and Tara’s infectious personality created lasting friendships with the other students that week. At the end of the week, I was confident that Tara had gleaned the basic knowledge needed to get started on her weaving adventure. Wit in a few weeks, Tara had bought a loom, tools and enough yarn and thread to get started.
Now the beginning weaving classes are based on traditional weaving theory. Tara took that knowledge and went in a different direction that suited her interest. Tara’s interest led her to the style of weaving known as SAORI. SAORI concepts and teaching were founded by Misao Jo and Kenzo JO of Japan. SAORI encourages weavers to explore self-discovery through free weaving. It encourages you to ignore the boundaries and confines of “traditional” weaving and be free to use different yarns and materials in a non-expected manner. SAORI rejects the notion that you must follow rules of symmetry and balance. The longer I knew Tara, the more I realized that this fitted her way of approaching life. Free to explore her creative thoughts about textiles without the fear that it might be wrong in someone else’s eyes.
The other day I was remembering a song titled, Flowers Are Red, by Harry Chapin. This song reminds me so much of Tara’s beautiful way of expressing her art. Here are a few lyrics from that song that sum up Tara in a nut shell.
The little boy went to the first day to school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
The teacher said
Flowers are red young man and green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Then the way they always have been seen.
But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one.
I think this is how Tara saw and expressed her love of weaving and wanted to share this with others.
Tara traveled to Japan to take instruction from SAORI masters and received her certification to be a SAORI instructor here in the United States. Tara fulfilled her dream in the Fall of 2016 when she opened Kite Tales SAORI weaving studio.
Tara was frequently a guest instructor here at Red Stone Glen. Students loved her bright personality and the way she approached weaving. Tara encouraged them, and gave them permission to be creative and free in their thinking as they wove on the loom.
Tara’s passing has left us heartbroken. It’s difficult to believe this truth. What I know is this: the short time that I knew Tara seemed like a lifetime. I feel blessed to have known her and she has left an eternal bright spot in the lives of everyone who knew Tara.
Rest sweetly my friend, until we meet again.