When Jean got the call, we went over to pick-up what was left of Hilly Marcus’ weaving adventures. Hilly had already moved, but her daughter Ellen was there to help lift, carry and load the many boxes of books and yarn. Knowing it would be months of storage before the world thawed enough to have the sale, we were openly relieved that the looms were already gone. Ellen explained that they hadn’t sold the looms, they had given them away. The looms had passed to deserving weaving students through a contest within the Cleveland Institute of Art. Ellen let CIA create the actual contest and pick the winners. She knew her mother’s looms would find fine, new homes; but that was all she could say. More than a year later, I got the rest of the story from the Executive Director of the Praxis Fiber Workshop. During my initial exploration of the facility, one boat shuttle of the many moored neatly on the shuttle shelf caught my eye. Clearly across one end, in what had obviously been a very permanent marker, was a boldly written, “Hilly Marcus”. I asked Jessica Pinsky if she knew anyone who knew anything about the contest. It turned out that she knew the other half of the story better than anyone else I could have queried. Jessica had been a technical specialist in the CIA fiber department during that time, and she was part of the group that organized the contest and decided which students won. She told me where they went, and with whom. The Cranbrook is now loved by a lady named Natalie who rents a small space at Praxis to keep the big loom safe and set-up. A gentleman named Matt has the Harrisville in his Parma studio. Both young people are part of the CIA alumni show “Close Connections”; August 7 through September 25 at Praxis. Our own Debbie Silver is also part of the exhibit. In late 2012, when CIA announced it’s elimination of the fiber department as a singular focus of study, Jessica Pinsky started planning Praxis. Her vision saved all the CIA looms from the waste of extended storage or the complete loss from casual discard. I think Hilly would be proud to know that her love and passion have passed into the next generation of fiber artists, and pleased that her gift was received and embraced by such creative hands.
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