It is with heavy hearts many of us in the SDA community heard of the passing of Deb Taylor, fiber artist, teacher and friend. The following are some memories and images of Deb and her work contributed by SDA members.
Memories of Deb by Barbara Matthews:
I met Deb in an independent study class lead by Jane Dunnewold. By way of introduction, Jane had us tell two truths and a lie to the group. We were to guess the lie. I thought my 3 triathlons would trip people up. Before the intros got to me, Deb trumped me by saying she had done 8 triathlons (surely she could not have done that many–I thought she was exaggerating!) but she had! She had done the Danskin triathlons as a cancer survivor no less.
We connected because I think we both felt a little out classed by others in the study group. We started meeting weekly to show our progress on our art and get suggestions. We were the yin and yang in doing art–her willing to play with any media; me more methodical in my thinking. She would gently chide me to play more. She was fearless and seemed to have endless energy diving into her art even after 8 hours of work. Her curiosity for surface design was boundless; she sought people out to learn new techniques. She jumped on the chance to learn the deconstructed printing I learned in a workshop. I came to appreciate her approach, because she played hard and developed a full bag of techniques and materials. She had a blast learning.
Deb was the one I called on to take excursions, most recently to Vancouver and Maiwa. Another to a quilt show, where a skein of silk kimono ‘yarn’, which we split, enticed us to collaborate on art pieces.
I miss being able to email or text Deb with new adventures. Our next venture was to Harbor Freight where we heard from friends at a recent retreat there were lots of interesting finds.
I have lost my excursion buddy, but more than that, I am heartbroken to have lost the person who I realize now was my best friend in Seattle.
Deb served as a SDA Seattle group leader for 2 years and also blog editor.
Thoughts on Deb by Sharon Rowley:
Deb’s body carried her spirit as far as it could. I never heard her complain about her health, or broadcast how she was feeling. I was in the car with Deb and Bud in San Antonio in 2013 and she took a call on her cell phone that she’d been waiting for. So I heard her side of a conversation with a nurse doing intake for an experimental procedure in Philadelphia that she was considering. Since I’d heard that much, I was given the history and what they were likely to try next. Bud recited possible side effects with a determination that I later realized came from having held Deb through so much.
A year ago, Jane Dunnewold suggested Deb as an addition to the critique group Ruth Vincent and I had formed. Deb had just spent a week in her multi-media class and wowed Jane with her creative spirit. Ruth and I were regularly treated to Deb’s lead-in of “it’s not much” and shown work that blew us away. If there was a new technique she’d seen, she was in it up to her elbows. That kind of pioneering spirit jolts you right out of your comfort-spot.
My work comes from a place of internal and external positive energy. Deb helped feed that place. A big heart, calm presence, warm smile always. Generous of her time and energy. She provided an important context for me in the work I’ve been doing for the past year on aging and illness. If you didn’t see that she was ill, it is not because she was hiding it, or because you weren’t important to her. She chose to lead with the positive; strength, creativity, connecting with others.
Bud’s been an incredible support to Deb’s artistry. It was clear Deb would seek his feedback on her work and valued it. Her small “deconstructed” dyed and hand-stitched pieces are presented on unusual hard surfaces, with Bud’s help. When Deb lost her job and wasn’t getting any traction finding a new one, and Deb was discovering the joy of full-time “making art”, Bud encouraged her to make art her new job.
Deb’s major accomplishment this past year was becoming an exhibiting artist. It may sound like a natural progression, but it means a lot of hard work and determination. She was thrilled to be in several shows and especially to be juried into the CQA show recently at the LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum. It was a delight to see her shine when she and I took Jane up to see our work in the show this past spring.
May her spirit live on.
Thoughts on Deb by Becky Wachtman:
I received word on Wednesday, that a friend had passed away – suddenly and without warning. Two weeks ago she was at a retreat with me sharing laughs and art projects. One week ago, she emailed me and gently encouraged me to teach silk painting at a local college. Monday, she was chatting excitedly with a mutual friend about all of her exciting plans for the future. Tuesday night, she was gone.
She was an inspired artist who dabbled in many different mediums (most of them fiber-related). She was always kind and had a gentle, loving spirit. She was a caring teacher and sharer of wisdom. She was a member of Fiber 19 and leader of the Surface Design Association (Seattle division). She was truly a lovely woman, whom I was privileged to call my friend. My heart bleeds for her family, and tears fall heavily when I think about all of the people whose lives she touched… whom I know will be missing her as much as I am.
Looking through lens of the loss of a friend, makes me realize just how unimportant some of my worries have been. I know my bowls will get made, and the family war will work itself out. But not ever getting to share another laugh or piece of art with my friend… that cannot be changed. That is an incredibly sad fact. One that reminds me to cherish those around me that I love (even the ones currently driving me nuts!).
Deb Taylor, you were my friend and I thank you for sharing a part of your life with me! You are missed, you are loved, and you are remembered with fondness and joy!
We believe there will be a small memorial service for Deb in Bellevue around October 24. We will update details about this as they become available. Christina Fairley Erickson