Friday, April 30, 2021

Robin Sojourner's Memorial Service

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was Monday April 19 in which it was announced that Robin Sojourner, Robin Wood in real life, had passed away. She was 67 years old. She had been suffering from cancer, and in the last entry on her blog about a week earlier made by her brother, it was stated she was realizing the end was near.

Robin had been in Second Life for sixteen years, and had accomplished much. She was noted as a content creator and an instructor. Her Texture Tutorial became part of the Ivory Tower of Prims, and she was an instructor at the Builder's Brewery. She also helped set up the Wiccan Learning Center, and a Relay group. She was once listed among "Ten Women Who Made A Difference" in Second Life.

On Sunday April 25, people gathered at the Livingtree sim to pay their respects, more than fifty avatars showing up. People gathered at the amphitheater near the middle of the land, one lady commenting, "I remember when y'all were building this place, and I was told this would be an amphitheater.  I think this is the first time I've seen it used.  Wish it was for a better reason." There were a numer of noted personalities there from Marianne McCann, Pygar Bu, Tuna Oddfellow, Saffia Widdershins, DrFran Babcock, GoSpeed Racer, Holocluck Henly, Avi Arrow, and others. A few had not logged onto Second Life for months, even years. Wendi Linden was also among those who attended.

"I will have few comments I'll want to start off with," Marianne spoke, "then I will welcome you ll to speak if you wish. I'm not gonna make all y'll wade up here if you don't want to, especially with this many people on the region. I assume we're all within the range of my text?" She waited some moments, then someone asked about Voice. Marianne answered, "You may use voice if you wish. I will be typing. It's, uh, going to be easier to get through tonight."

"It is very nice to see all of you. I know for some of you, you've not been on (Second Life) for a while. Thank you for being here. Thank you all for coming tonight to honor Robin (Sojourner) Wood. McCann: For some time, Robin had been struggling with cancer, in particular phyllodes tumors. McCann: She had successfully dealt with them initially, only to see them recur. She left us on the 19th of April, 2021, just past 3 in the morning. When she passed, she was asleep, and smiling. It was as she had hoped she might go.

"We remember her for her artwork, ranging from work done for TSR, the creators of Dungeons and Dragons, her People of Pern artwork, the Robin Wood Tarot, and many other pieces completed over the years. After fibromyalgia interfered with her ability to manipulate traditional art tools, she focused on her digital work, having a long history with Adobe Photoshop and other programs. It was this depth of talent that she brought of Second Life. Here, she ran several stores, as well as creating the Wiccan Learning Center and the Texture Tutorial and Library. A generation of Second Life users started their own building careers through her tutorials, her UV maps, and her T-Shirt template. Not content with just this, she was an accomplished quilter and knitter. She also wrote and published three books.

"Today, I would like to encourage those who can to come up and share their experiences with Robin, in either life. You may type or use voice, whichever you prefer. Robin may have transcended us, but will live on in all of our collective memories. I first heard of Robin in 1985, with her first cover for Dragon magazine. The piece of art is one of her best known, titled 'Music Lover.' It features a dragon watching a harpist play a tune. You can view it at...  As much as I have long loved that piece, I would often rib Robin over the editor’s note from that issue, where the editor noted Robin apologizing for being late with the art, saying 'but, you see, there were all these scales.' (several chuckles from the crowd) The piece is, of course, incredibly detailed, featuring reflections up and down the body of the dragon — even reflections of Robin, at the easel, painting the scene. This was who Robin was. She was never content with the merely good, but wanted to feature every detail she could. If you look at her work here in Second Life, you will note that that a candle can light multiple ways. And that every nut and bolt is presented in the most efficient fashion.

"After seeing that Dragon cover, I would see her works come up from time to time. I remember seeing her show up on the covers of School Cunningham’s books on Wicca, for example, then later on the beautiful Robin Wood Tarot. In the early years of the Internet, I came across, where she would sometimes share icons for the Macintosh. She also shared essays of her own there, one of which I finally got up the gumption to reach out, just to thank her. This was when we discovered that we had mutual friends between us, and we first got to know each other. In 2006, I joined Second Life. In my earliest days inworld, I found a store called Practical Magic. While there, I found someone selling Robin Wood’s artwork. Incensed, I wrote to Robin Wood, to let her know someone was profiting off her art. This was how I discovered that Robin Sojourner and Robin Wood was one in the same.

"Some months later, she introduced a line of skins. I had been looking for something to replace my old system skin and reached out as I, as a child avatar, needed a skinthat lacked adult features. She agreed to take on the task, developing the first line of kid-specific skins in Second Life. More than this, she decided that an alt of hers, Robin Howe, should become a child themselves. Within a short time, that avatar became the inworld sister of both me and my inworld brother, Pygar Bu.

"Second Life mirrored reality. Our friendship grew deep after hours upon hours of phone calls, chats in Second Life, and even a week-long visit out our way. She was a very big part of my chosen family beyond Second Life. In May of 2007, she opened Livingtree as both a store an educational space., inviting Pygar and I to be a part of it. McCann: Before she passed, she asked that Pygar and I continue the island, which we shall. Please feel free to continue to enjoy this space going forward, and to remember  Robin when you visit."

Marianne got applause for her words, Saffia Widdershins saying, "Beautiful, Mari. And a living memorial you create." Shirley Márquez Dúlcey (Shirley Marquez) would say of Robin's art, "I had some of that artwork. Somehow I lost my pieces during a house rebuild, and alas she had stopped selling them by then so I couldn't replace them (frown)."

Shirley would speak next, "My first significant memory of Robin was from the Arisia science fiction convention in 1992. That was the third year the convention was held. She was the artist guest of honor. I had been tapped a few weeks before con to step in and deal with selling the convention merchandise. That included a T-shirt that Robin designed. I managed to find a place that could get them done just in time -- the shirts were actually still warm from the curing oven when they arrived at the con! I saw Robin at the convention regularly for years. She was there to sell her art and to do panels about art. She was always generous with her time and knowledge. The 1992 convention book had one of her works on the cover that you can see here: "

Minerva Breda was next, saying, "Apologies for the Letters that may wobble out of place. When I was thirteen years old at my first Philcon, overwhelmed with all people who like me loved reading and art I was lost me. robin Wood helped me get whelmed. Teaching me things along the way over the years.  She always teaches. It’s like breathing to her. Second Life is a place you can be anything.  In a place she could have been a werewolf playing cards against humanity, she choose to teach. SL offered her the ability to create when fibromyalgia made painting too much. I wanted to visit her in first life and tell her how much she influenced me over the years. It’s not possible for a few reasons. I mentioned as much to Daimon. So we teleported to her place. I sat here feeling lost and overwhelmed again.  Daimon listened to me prattle. But as I looked around here I began to feel better. The Teaching was all around me. It feels good to refocus on what is important to her, rather then the lost.

"Robin, I wish you gentle sleep and thank you for being a mentor. As for us who were honored to know her.  The best we can do live justly, be kind, teaching others. Like she does. Even now. Thank yuo Mari for the opportunity to speka and you all for listening."

Madi Perth (Madi Melodious) had her turn to speak, "I didn't know Robin like so many of you here did.  I wish, I wish I had.  She made a huge impact on my real life and Second Life. When I first encountered her art work in a place called Lion and Uncorn. I saw that very Dragon issue and from the moment I was hooked on her art.  Latter I found out she had made a Tarrot deck.  I found it in the store and it called to me.  I carried that deck every where I went.  it was apart of me. I found out she was active in SL and came to Livingtree a number of items.  I never worked up the courage to say hi to her.   I will regret that forever. Shade and sweet water to you Robin."

Kat Medici was next, "The very first time I met Robin was at her first Second Life event.  As I understand it, a real-life friend who was already in world brought her in.  I was fangirling.  Seriously walking around the event and whispering to a Second Life friend that Robin was RIGHT THERE! Of course Robin 'heard' me and said, 'You can come up and say 'Hello'.  I don't bite.'  I was shy because I am in real-life but ended up speaking with her, still mentally 'SQUEEING' the entire time because it was ROBIN WOOD.

"Over the course of years, through numerous avatars (me, not really her), she became a dear friend, someone whom brought laughter, wisdom, kindness, and sometimes a much needed honesty in Second Life and real life.  She helped me (as yet another alt) create and open Practical Magic along side with CrystalShard Foo, and others.  She was my teacher in copyright laws, my mentor in so many ways, a friend and part of my heart, then, now, and always.

"Last night my real-life sister, whom also knew Robin from Second Life, said that Robin brought the essence of home to Second Life, through her items, through her sim, through her presence.  This is a True Thing. Our worlds, all of them, are changed and better because of her. Blessed Be Robin."

Carrie Talaj then spoke, "Thanks for being here, everyone. While I initially had heard of Robin, it was from a tarot reading I got in the early 2000s from a friend.  I remember the cards being super vibrant and 'spoke' to me.  That was a good sign that I should get that set myself. However, I'm not really into the world of fantasy art/literature/gaming, so I really first met Robin through Mari and Pygar.  Mari had given me access to Livingtree early, but I had yet to meet Robin.  That happened when I snuck in late one night without Mari.  I saw Robin, kinda thought 'Oh, I shouldn't be here.' She merrily said 'Hi,' and went about her business.  She had just kind of accepted me here since I was here, and I loved her for that.

"Over time and more interloping, we became friends, and was often on the receiving end of a lot of kindness. If I bought something, I'd often find my inventory stuffed with every variation of what I'd just bought, and every variation of 'Oh, and this will go great with that.' Eventually I got to watch her create.  I'd complimented her on the level of detail on some china she'd made and I mentioned 'I'm always amazed at the level of detail in other's art. I don't really get that detailed when drawing' and mentioned some of the tarot cards I'd drawn based on her tarot book. She immediately turned it around on me, telling me 'I admire the art you do, Carrie.' She'd seen the cards I made, and never told me. 'When you draw, you know exactly what level of detail you need to make your point. When I paint, I'm not always sure what all needs to go into a piece. I paint everything. I'm not sure what I should leave out. I love that you can leave detail out but still make your point.' She didn't have to turn it around, but she did.  She always did.  And it was always kind.  And I loved her for that.

"As an aside, she also taught me why Chef's clothes were white, and how to get a good credit score (which I do!).  She wasn't just an artist and a creator, but a heckuva lotta fun to talk to. Talking with her was like talking to sunshine. I cannot say this enough: She was a very kind soul.  After my troubles in Second Life, I didn't see her (or my other friends) for a very very very long time. But when we were both on at the same time, it was like no time had passed. Thankfully, we talked for a good while and caught up a few months ago, one of the last times she was on Second Life."

"I'm going to miss her. I can't just log on anymore, and hope she's still there. But my other friends are.  And her passing has made my time with them feel more special.  Please tell your friends you love them.  You may never know when the last time you speak to to them will be. I love you, Robin.  Just as I love everyone here."

Next to speak was ᴀᴅᴅɪsᴏɴ ··ᴄᴀᴋᴇ·· ᴍᴏɴʀᴏᴇ (October Blackwood), "Before I start crying any harder, I just want to say, while I did not know Robin personallym in many ways she was monumental in my growth in Second Life. I joined when I was 17, almost 13 years ago. Within a year, I wanted to try my hand at skins and clothing and was linked to her free resources. Fast forward I came across her store, with metaphysical supplies, this took me back as I had never thought to bring my spirituality to the metaverse. A year ago when I decided to open a pagan hangout, I knew I needed to use some of the detailed beautiful work of Robin.

"A couple months ago I had finally got some down time, and wanted to reach out to Robin to ask her to be apart of our community as we have affiliates and such we work with. However unfortunately I got busy in real life, and other things came up. I finally had some downtime, and that when I saw the article that shattered my heart on facebook. It was then I realized the impact that Robin had on myself and my community, and to be here with you all and to hear more of how this amazing woman touched our lives, it's just really beautiful. We have a memorial altar in our landing area, and a memorial bench that will be a permanent feature at Nox. My community, the community that Robin helped pioneer in the metaverse, will never forget her. Robin, though I never was able to meet you, through your videos, and work in Second Life, you still feel like an old friend. May we always remember you, and your contributions to this little virtual world. You inspired so many of us."

Then spoke Shanna (Sushanna Rosenfeld), who stated she was, "from Gianfar, a roleplay sim here in Second Life, set in Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ universe. Several fine artists have depicted our friendly dragons, but Robin chose to be different – she painted portraits of the People of Pern. The result was a book of that name, produced with Anne’s approval and text. Her people were and will remain our images of the characters we love. Along with Karen Fonstad’s Atlas and Tania and Mike’s albums of Anne’s harper songs, she brought another dimension to Pern.

Next, one man, Tompta Olfson, spoke not in text, but Voice. He talked about having met Robin at a con, not knowing who she was, and noticed she had a sword. He went up to her, and told her the rules required that it be sheathed at all times, and eventually something was worked out. He met up with her later, they started going out, and eventually married. "Thank you all for being here," he told the crowd, "Thank you all so very much."

CrystalShard Foo then told the crowd, "So, I'm not very good at speeches. I met Robin when a friend introduced us, very soon after she came to Second Life. Unlike many people here I've never heard of her before or knew her in any way - she was just another newbie to me. So I helped her with some questions and when I realized her artistic leaning, gave her some L$ to fund her uploads. I quickly moved on and forgot about it. We did keep in touch though. And over time we became casual friends, not really talking that often, but I did enjoy talking with her when I did. At one point she heard that I was interested in learning Tarot, so she mentioned that she makes Tarot decks. I was surprised since I didn't know anything about her real life artwork. When she offered to send me a deck, I said sure.  When the deck arrived and I opened it one of the cards had a dedication for me - thanking me for helping her when she was new. I was pleasantly surprised - and kind of confused, this wasn't something I was used to. I didn't even remember helping her. She had to remind me. That deck is still with me and it's very special to me. That's all I have to say I guess. My head is kind of fuzzy."

Calla Cela spoke next, "I met Robin right after she came to Livingtree. I was so in awe, my fingers could only type gibberish. She was very kind to me. I was here to read her books. This inspired me, when I started teaching, to put out my books at my place and I still do so. When I started teaching how to make mesh clothing in GIMP, students would ask why that had to be 1024x1024's. I just said, 'Robin says it. I believe it. And that settles it. I am grateful for all she has done to make Second Life a better place.

Then came John Sheppard-Mckay (Jon Nielsen), "I first knew of Robin through her People of Pern illustrations for Anne McCaffrey. I read my first Anne McCaffrey DragonRiders of Pern book in junior high and I was hooked. And Like Shanna, I'm a member of Gianfar Peaks of Pern here. The next time I encountered Robin's art was Scott Cunningham's books on Wicca. The next time I encountered Robin was her clothing templates which i use to this day and treasure. I've been coming to Livingtree occasionally. I have to admit when I found out she was sick, I came and got a lot of her items that for whatever reason I hadn't gotten before. The last time I talked to Robin, I was dealing with my mother-in-law's effects and I had one of Scott's books that was autographed... well signed. We exchanged emails about it. Now, every time I log in, we have her pentacle rug on the floor in our home along with her very colorful quilt stool. Enjoy the Summerland, Robin and say hello to Scott!"

Next was Pygar Bu, "Robin was one of my sisters. She even made a kid avie for it. Little Robin was an important part of our family, being the practical one. She was never satisfied with partway. From her projects here, to building and maintaining the Texture Tutorial and Library, to creating quilts in first life, and then recreating them for Second Life, everything had to be complete. She also made sure that those around her had all the tools and instruction for doing whatever they wanted to do. I was struggling with mesh in Blender, and she encouraged and coached me through shapes and textures. She was everyone’s number one fan and teacher.

"She could be completely silly as well. I was going through early pics of Livingtree, trying to find the opening day image over there, and came across one by her called 'Skating Break.' She had managed to balance herself, on roller skates, on top of one of the displays in the Tutorial building! (some chuckles in the crowd) This island is definitively Robin. It is open for all, has areas dedicated to learning, exploring, fun, relaxation, and is beautiful as well. If you haven’t already, please do look around. Her touch is everywhere here. Thank you."

Tuna Oddfellow commented, "I had Robin's Tarot Card deck long before we had a Second Life, My ex wife was telling me about the year Robin was the artist guest of honor at Arisia Science Fiction convention the shirt had a drawing painted by Robin with a cute girl on it, my ex wife wanted a cute guy. So Robin painted over the shirt design for her." Marianne responded, "That sounds like Robin, Tuna." He answered, "She told me she wished she still had the shirt."

Star Finesmith (MorningStar Finesmith) then added, "Robin came indirectly into my life some years ago. A friend of hers and of mine instroduced me to her tarot cards in Second Life and her. I'm not sure you'd say website, but some information to learn outside SL. Last fall, I reaced out to Robin herself and she happened to be on SL. We chatted. She was so warm and caring! She mae me feel completely at ease. I invited her to be part of our budding art community.. She said that she wished she could, but then she shared with me the battle she was having with cancer. I'm touched and amazed at how much she touched my soul in one conversation. She was an amazing woman, a full soul. Blessings to you Robin."

Zidders Roofurry (Zidaya Zenovka) then asked everyone, "Would it be OK if I shared the poem I wrote for her? It's not long." He was told he could, "'d like to preface this by saying that while I didn't know Robin well or for all that long she was one of the first people I met when I first came to SL. I was struggling with both the learning curve and with a lot of personal issues at the time. She was very kind to me and helped give me a reason to smile at a time when I didn't feel I had a lot to smile about. I'll always appreciate her compassion."

by Zid

Ink and paint by dragons soul.
Tall elves behind both tree and knoll.
Forest paths and storming thunder-
her work a spell we all are under.

Mystic Pagan blessings be.
Bright faeiries floating fast and free.
All not just imagination.
From Robin's hand became creation.

Heart's hearth bright-a warming glow.
Her kindness to all she did know.
With grateful spirit we honor her.
Our dear Robin, Sojourner.

Phrynne had this to say, "I met Robin at Darkovercon in the mid-90s, where she was Art Guest of Honor.  She was friendly and fun.  Someone was asking her about the Music Lover, and she said, "Don't you know, I paint from life?  It  took a while for the dragon to hold still."  And all of us around the Guest of Honor table laughed.

"But I also learned something else about her work -- she created drawings and paintings at the size they were to be printed.  All the artwork on the Robin Wood Tarot was painted and drawn at that size, not done larger and reduced.  I have her deck, well worn and well loved.

"I am glad to have had to chance to meet her then, and to find her kind teaching and the beauty she created here, in Second Life, as well as in offline life.  Robin, may you walk in beauty."

Maggie Hawksby had another poem.

When Earth's last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
'Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They'll sit in a golden chair
They'll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet's hair
They'll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They'll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!

Ilianexsi Sojourner had a third

Gone From My Sight
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

Wendi Linden would say, "If not for Robin, I don't think I wuld have the honor of doing my work here. She was a good friend."

It was about this point the event was ending. Addison added, "We will be honoring her at our full moon gathering tomorrow, I've already bought large packs of her vigil candles and will be handing those out and Mari, or Tompta can you guys advise me on any songs she liked that we can play at the gathering?" Crystalshard stated, "I mentioned how the deck is important for me so I made a little tribute and cloned it here in SL for myself. But hearing how many of you have her deck in real life and how its important to you - apparently it's available in her store, or should be." Marianne invited everyone, "please feel free to explore the island."

And most everyone went their seperate ways, some remaining to chat for a while.

And so, those who knew Robin had given her their goodbyes. But what she did, both here in Second Life and real life, will continue.

Bixyl Shuftan

No comments:

Post a Comment