Ibulliance: The Circle of Life

Bhakti sat at her jacquard loom, patiently explaining the math of the heddles, the path of the shuttle, and the complex puzzle of her current work while a man hovered closely by, his face full of questions. Surrounding them is the art of 50 years born of her loom, lining the Santa Fe form & concept gallery which is hosting a retrospective of her ground-breaking work—one I was lucky to see last month. Bhakti speaks to this inquisitive visitor with the same kindness, patience and enthusiasm that I remember when I sat at a loom for the first time 22 years ago in a puddle of frustration and exasperation, trying to learn to weave. When Bhakti was my teacher.

In Sanskrit, bhakti is a word for devotion, even love. And for 50 years, Bhakti has devoted herself to the mysteries of weaving, the art of textiles, and to the people who enter her web. I'm not sure I would have ever learned to weave and pursue it with the passion I did if Bhakti had not bent over my tangle of threads and smoothed them, smoothed me, my nerves and anxious first steps, into something poetic. She saw through my fumbling first attempts into the heart of my endeavor—a deep curiosity—and met me there.


Curiosity is what has propelled Bhakti to understand the threads of life, and then to congregate them into art. From her early academic studies to her life in Guatemala exploring the back-strap loom to the complex jacquard weaving where she experiments today breaking the boundaries of warp and weft, Bhakti brings a pure devotion. In The Circle of Life, an installation hanging at the entrance of the gallery, she has woven panels—at the same time on the same loom—the front and back of which are utterly different. The complexity is mind-bending. I'm not sure anyone else in the world can do what she does. Her brilliant skill—and love—holds it together.

If you and I approach whatever we do with such devotion and curiosity, such a perennial enthusiasm, such strong and tenacious love, we could do anything. That's what I think as I listen to her teaching the visitor at the loom. That is what I see, as I take in all that her creative years have yielded. Even Bhakti, with a modest smile, seems a bit surprised when together we look around and take in the amplitude of her art.  

My visit with Bhakti last month reminded me to love fiercely what I am doing—whatever it is. That devotion is the alchemical ingredient that transforms our words into poetry, our skilled efforts into art, even brief encounters—like ours 22 years ago—into relationships that last. Thank you, Bhakti, for weaving a circle of life and love. And for tucking my curious thread into the heart of it.

All the Best,