Living Waters – Loving Our Neighbors
A Bit of History
Mal Welch, Concept and Copy
Martha Curit Hough, Artistic Director
Introduction (2018-2020) by Mal Welch
Living Waters was named in 2018 by the Rev. Doris Johnson, Associate Rector of St. Peter’s Church at the time, following a decision to focus the church’s Outreach programs along the Waters Avenue corridor. The idea was to go narrower, rather than scatter our efforts all over Savannah, and go deeper. Outreach committee members began a “listening tour” to hear from our neighbors along the route from St. Peter’s to Wheaton Street.
What were the needs of the schools, churches and agencies along the route that had gone unrecognized?
After several months of research and conversations, we learned of needs we could meet by re-directing Angel Tree gifts to benefit teachers at Bethesda Academy and Hesse K-8 school. A conversation with the librarian at the Live Oak branch at the W.W. Law Community Center sparked the Lego project. St. Michael’s food pantry was ongoing; its location was a perfect fit for the theme. We might have chosen any of the nine schools served by L.O.V.E. to represent that Outreach project but Spencer/A.B.Williams, at the northern terminus of Waters, has long had parishioners as mentors, as well as two former site directors from St. Peter’s.
The concept was to visualize Living Waters as a fiber art river with signage describing our Outreach projects. It would be a beautiful addition to the Parish Hall walls and enable parishioners and visitors alike to understand some of what we do. I shared the concept with Martha Hough, whose artistry I so admire. We talked about it over and over, even as people began knitting. Her focus, determination and inventiveness brought the project to life.
As time, and the pandemic, went on, the concept grew; each year it was approved by a succession of Vestry members and Senior Wardens; each year it was reflected in Outreach minutes under Old Business. Rev. Kelly Steele’s idea that we include all of St. Peter’s Outreach projects as part of Living Waters was brilliant. And so today Outreach at St. Peter’s has been rebranded – Living Waters.
Artisic Interpretation (2020-2022) by Martha Hough
In early 2020 Mal Welch – a member of the Outreach Committee - asked me to design a large fabric art installation that would in some way represent our service outreach, Living Waters, into the community. Fabric Art was not anything I was familiar with, but it was an intriguing idea and so I agreed.
We knew the design would be a river.
We knew we wanted many parishioners involved.
We knew we had a team of knitters in the parish.
We knew we wanted to create a colorful, bold design statement to enhance the Parish Hall.
We knew we wanted to describe our current outreach projects with words and images.
We knew we would have challenges along the way.
With various COVID and other interruptions 2020 became 2021.But the project was not forgotten…only delayed. I first had to figure out the mechanics of creating an enormous tapestry that was movable and self-supporting all at the same time. Kelly Steele – newly appointed Rector of St. Peter’s was “all -in,” as well as patient, in support of the project. Fortunately, she had a friend at St. Michael’s Church who was in fact a fabric artist. An answered prayer. Her name is Judy Naylor- Johnson and she graciously agreed to meet with us in the Parish Hall to hear about our project. She was enormously helpful - especially in advising how best to install what would be a 21’ tapestry. A trip to Jo-Ann’s led us to various samples of yarn, ribbons and fabrics that would eventually, somehow, be woven together to create Living Waters. We had a plan…we were committed.
The new year 2022 arrived and work continued. After many, many months of knitting and crocheting there were enough pieces gathered to begin the design. With a framework of garden fencing and felt fabric, I began to tack down areas with a glue gun. When everything was in place – it was time to start to stitch each piece more firmly in place.
And so it was constructed. Thanks to many nimble fingers Living Waters was complete.
With graceful ripples, shimmering light, deep eddies, trickling rivulets and tendrils …..the river flows. In the same way as our many outreach projects, I believe the tapestry represents a feeling of faithful purpose, accomplishment, creativity, reflection and great satisfaction. Time, talent and treasure well- spent and woven into a moving current - organic, changing, not always smooth, never really finished – but worthwhile none the less.
A special note: Perhaps the most amusing and “never- to- be- forgotten” part of the design process occurred during an Outreach meeting. Mal took a concept sketch, along with a few photos, to better explain the scope of the project. One very astute member took a look at the sketch showing a river that flowed (left to right) from wide to narrow…and said…..”but vibrant rivers flow from streams; they don’t dwindle into streams!” (I paraphrase – but you see the point!) Well of course they do!
Thankfully, it was not too late to turn the design on its head so that now indeed our river flows (left to right) from a narrow stream into a wider, fluid tributary.
Mal worked closely with Alpha Graphics to design and print the descriptive signage to accompany the tapestry. A large sign introduces the work, much as one would see in an art gallery or museum, using a mission statement developed by the Vestry: “We at St. Peter’s follow Christ and live our faith through prayer and worship, nurturing relationships, welcoming all, fostering community involvement, and serving those in need.”
The Living Waters Team
With enormous appreciation and thanks to all who contributed to this joyful project.
Martha Curit Hough, Artistic Director
Mal Welch, Concept and Copy Editor
Knitters, Weavers, Stitchers, Artists
Mary Ellen Fox
Randy Hatch -team leader