La Vie Boheme

July 16, 2014 at 2:33 am (Uncategorized)

This Thursday night, I will participate in my first exhibition in almost four years.

The Bohemian Bash Art Show benefits the Cary Creative Center, a non-profit providing artistic materials and educational programs to promote reuse of discarded materials.

My first jewelry collection, The Ephemera Collection, celebrated everyday things often taken for granted like postcards, postage stamps, and labels. While working on The Ephemera Collection, I started incorporating found objects in my work. For Through the Looking Glass, the last exhibition I participated in with Emily Cash and Susan Parrish, both Susan and I used found objects to bring dimension to Emily’s fantastic Wonderland drawings. For an inside look at Through the Looking Glass, click here.

Two of my favorite pieces from the Through the Looking Glass exhibition, including the Altered Book and Alice in Wonderland Talisman will be on display Thursday night at The Bohemian Bash Art Show at Cypress Manor in Cary. For more information or for tickets, visit The Bohemian Bash website.

Text and illustrations woven together transform this Atlas into an oversized altered children's book.

Text and illustrations woven together transform this Atlas into an oversized altered children’s book.

Alice in Wonderland Talisman recreating the beloved characters using found objects.

Alice in Wonderland Talisman recreating the beloved characters using found objects.

 

 

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The Invisible Children: Breaking the Silence

April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm (Art Unravelled, Uncategorized)

In April of 2006, I saw this photograph on The Oprah Winfrey Show that haunted me. The photo was of a group of children in Uganda who on a nightly basis were being locked in cages for their own safety. Known as the “nightwalkers,” they walk—some for as long as two hours a night—to camps run by the Ugandan government and non-governmental organizations. Once there, the children agree to be locked in a cage and guarded from the marauding LRA. In the morning, the children return to their homes and work in the fields.

Aside from the humanitarian crisis pictured in this photograph,  I made the connection to the fact that this photo was reminiscent of so many pictures I had seen of children during the Holocaust. The Germans and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children, including over a million Jewish children.

Two years later, still haunted by the photo I had seen on television, I decided to contact the organization behind the photo called Invisible Children. The organization was founded by three young college students who, in the spring of 2003, traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started as a documentary about the nightwalkers, ended up being a global movement. 

The Nightwalkers brooch, suspended by a "chain" of fibers stamped with the names of all The Concentration Camps.

The organization sent me over 70 photographs, as well as information about the invisible children of Uganda to use in a piece inspired by the nightwalkers story. The “Nightwalkers” brooch was part of my 2008 Out of the Box exhxibition at Artspace. The intention of the piece was to inform and educate the public about the Invisible Children movement.

 
Last week, the three founders of Invisible Children were on The Oprah Winfrey Show again to give an update on the children of Uganda and to promote The 25 Campaign, which started yesterday and runs through tonight with concerts to “break the silence” in various cities around the United States.
 
“There’s so much noise in the world,” Invisible Children’s Jason Russell told Oprah. “We thought, ‘What if we all stayed silent for 25 hours?’ So, on April 24, we’re going silent for 25 hours, and we’re asking people for their time, talent and money.”
 
For more information, on Invisible Children, or to make a $25 donation to The 25 Campaign, visit  www.invisiblechildren.com. To hear what the co-founders of Invisible Children told Oprah about nightwalkers in Uganda today, click here. For first hand account of a child soldier, read Stephen’s Story.

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Not Just Another Ordinary Day: Goodnight As the World Turns

September 26, 2010 at 2:24 am (Uncategorized)

It was just about a year ago that The Guiding Light went off the air. I confessed to you then that years before I moved to Raleigh and became an artist, I spent a summer in the fictitious town of Oakdale, Illinois, the setting for As the World Turns.

When I was teenager, I started watching As the World Turns. As a sophomore in college, I worked for WIOD Radio in Miami. The News Director there suggested that I could get a wealth of television production experience working for a soap opera. The following year, I sent off a resume to As the World Turns Producer Lisa Wilson. I interviewed for an internship position and in the summer of 1989, packed my bags and moved into the dorms at New York University to begin work as a production intern on the show.

Although I did fetch coffee and lunch for the producers and directors, copied scripts, and ran errands, I also learned the value of working hard, going above and beyond the call of duty, and for at least a summer, was a witness to a piece of television history.

With the immortal words “Good morning, dear,” actress Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes) opened As the World Turns on April 2, 1956. As the World Turns (ATWT) was the creation of Irna Phillips who, beginning in the 1930s, had been one of the foremost creators and writers of radio soap operas.  It was the first television daytime drama with a 30-minute running time, along with The Edge of Night, which premiered the same day. 

ATWT became the longest running dramatic series created exclusively for television. Wagner, incidentally, who passed away last May, is also acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest-running character played by one actor or actress on television.

I will always look back on my summer in Oakdale fondly. I have to confess that this week I have missed coming home after picking up my kids from school and watching my recorded episodes of As the World Turns.

“And so, a perfectly ordinary day in Oakdale comes to an end.  Oakdale may be an ordinary town filled with ordinary people, but it’s an ordinary town where extraordinary things happen ever day.” [Dr. Bob Hughes, Final Episode, September 18, 2010]

After he delivered these final thoughts, Dr. Bob closed the final episode by leaving his office and saying, “Goodnight.”  

And so I too bid you goodnight, As the World Turns. You will be missed.

View this classic clip of As the World Turns with Nancy (Helen Wagner) and Dr. Bob (Don Hastings) from 1963, in the middle of which Walter Cronkite breaks in with breaking news of the Kennedy assasination.

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Lesson Learned from Mama Chili’s

September 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm (Uncategorized)

“The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing. ” Thomas Edison

Last week, I met my husband for lunch at the Chili’s in Knightdale, North Carolina. My husband and his coworkers frequent this Chili’s at least once a week, and for the last few weeks he has been hounding me to come and see why.  

For the last seven years, Amber Spencer, also known as Mama Chili’s, has been greeting and seating people first at the Chili’s in  Triangle Town Center in Raleigh, and now at the Chili’s in Knightdale. When I walked in, Mama said to me, “sit down, put your feet up, stay awhile” and “you know, I appreciate you.” She said it with such certitude that I really believed that she did. 

While I was sitting waiting for my husband, I watched other customers come and go. One older group of women who were leaving the restaurant bid Mama goodbye, to which she replied, “let me know the next time you all are coming in and I’ll join you for lunch.” Another group walked in to which she said, “come in, the water’s fine.” Each and every customer was gratuitously greeted with a smile, some with a hug, and all with honest purpose, which one business website calls “saleslove.”

The definition of “saleslove” is “unselfish and loyal care for the good of a customer, prospect, reseller, and/or team member.”

“Follow through with all service needs and requests until your customers and prospects confirm their needs have been handled. Gladly give them your continued attention and increase the chances you’ll become (and remain) their resource.” [www.justsell.com]

Over the last few  years, I have had many young artists come into my studio asking for advice, mostly on how to get started selling and marketing their work. I have looked at countless portfolios, sketches, and designs, and while most of these artists can design circles around me, they don’t have any business or marketing sense.

My overall business philosophy, personified by Mama Chili’s, is pretty simple.

First, find one thing, and do it better than anybody else. Many of the designers who come into my studio soliciting advice, wire wrap, weave,  fabricate, and who knows what else. Their portfolios are chockfull of pieces that show a wide variety of techniques and mediums, which at best demonstrate an inconsistent body of work.

Second, remember that the key to business, especially in a down economy, is in fact personal relationships. For me, that means developing personal relationships with my prospective customers, collectors, galleries, and suppliers. 

“Unless you love everybody, you can’t sell anybody” (Dicky Fox, from Jerry Maguire).

Lesson learned from Mama Chili.

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“Summer” on the Hudson Valley with Branches

July 20, 2010 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

My family and I just returned from five days in New York City. We saw shows, The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, The Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall and ate. One of the highlights of the trip by far was New York’s High Line, an elevated public park that when finished will run from The Meatpacking District to 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. My husband and I had the opportunity to tour Section One of the Highline (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) , which opened to the public last year.

The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district.  Connecting directly to factories and warehouses, the High Line allowed trains carrying milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods to roll right inside buildings without causing street-level traffic. In 1980, the last train ran on the High Line pulling three carloads of frozen turkeys.

Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. The group successfully worked with the mayoral administration of Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council to reverse a City policy favoring demolition to one ensuring the High Line’s preservation through the federal Railbanking program. Last month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presented the Doris C. Freedman Award to Friends of the High Line for its dedication to preserving an essential piece of New York’s industrial history and for transforming the High Line into an innovative public space [The High Line Blog].

“Rather than destroying this valuable piece of our history, we have recycled it into an innovative and exciting park that will provide more outdoor space for our citizens and create jobs and economic benefits for our City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Ten years ago, detractors thought the High Line was an eyesore. Thankfully, there were a handful of people who looked at the High Line and saw also an extraordinary gift to our city’s future.”

My family and I had the opportunity to take a walking tour the High Line and learn about its unique design elements with  Peter Mullan, Friends of the High Line’s Vice President of Planning & Design. 

One of the many features that make the High Line so exceptional and rich, in addition to the horticulture and the spectactular views, is the presentation of contemporary art in, on and near the park. Currently on display in the park are Stephen Vitiello’s, A Bell for Every Minute, a multi-channel sound installation, Richard Galpin’s Viewing Station, which gives visitors an altered, abstracted view from the High Line, Spencer Finch’s A River that Flows Both Ways, and my favorite, Valerie Hegarty’s Autumn on the Hudson Valley with Branches. For the High Line, Hegarty created a work that imagines a nineteenth century Hudson River School landscape painting that has been left outdoors, exposed to the elements. Hegarty’s painting is based on Jasper Francis Cropsey’s Autumn on the Hudson River of 1860, a bucolic landscape that shows none of the affects of the Industrial Revolution. Hegarty’s canvas is tattered and frayed, and the partially exposed stretcher bars appear to be morphing into tree branches, as if reverting back to their natural state.

Autumn on the Hudson Valley with Branches

 Perhaps the soul that resonates from the High Line comes from the spirit of the  New Yorkers  who recognized the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a public place unlike any other in the world. Special thanks to the three Friends of the High Line volunteers, including Mr. Mullan, for sharing with my family a piece of New York history 30 feet above the ground.

In many places, the High Line's railroad tracks are returned to their original locations, integrated into the planting beds.

Richard Galpin, Viewing Station

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For Nate “Oteka” Henn: Can a Story Change the World?

July 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Several years ago, I saw this photograph on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show was about the humanitarian crisis in the East African country of Uganda. The image of the boys behind the cage were reminiscent similar images I had seen of the Holocaust.

Darfur Nightwalkers: Mixed media panel with removable brooch

Moved by this image, I wanted to create a piece that would help raise awareness. I contacted Invisible Children, the San Diego based organization responsible for this photograph, to see if I could somehow incorporate this image in my work. They not only agreed to help me, but shared over 70 images with me “where children are both the weapons and the victims”.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut, a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers. Soon after screening the film for family and friends, what started out as a movie became a movement, and the boys started the non-profit, Invisible Children, Inc.

According to the Invisible Children website, “Our approach to humanitarian work is founded in the strength and intelligence of the Ugandan community. We learned early on it was not only important but essential to heed the wisdom of people that had not only lived in the war, but were surviving it. People who would know better than anyone what the greatest needs were and the best ways to meet them. What we came to find is that while there have been many efforts to address the issues that stem from living and fighting in such a long-lasting war, the people of Uganda are asking for a future beyond the conflict.”

“All of our programming is a partnership between those of us at Invisible Children and those in the Ugandan community. We focus on long-term goals that enable children to take responsibility for their future and the future of their country. Our programs are carefully researched and developed initiatives that address the need for quality education, mentorships, the redevelopment of schools, resettlement from the camps, and financial stability.”

Yesterday, Raleigh native and Invisible Children volunteer Nate Henn was killed in a terrorist attack in Kampala. Henn, given the name “Oteka” or “the strong one” by some of the Ugandan students he worked with, was killed in the explosion that ripped through a rugby field where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the final match of the World Cup. 

“Nate worked with us at Invisible Children for a year and a half and leaves behind a legacy of honor, integrity, and service. From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s war, to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation. He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated.” [Invisible Children Blog, July 11, 2010]

Darfur Nightwalkers Brooch

The Invisible Children organization continues to serve the children of Uganda through its Legacy Scholarship Program, Schools for Schools Program, Bracelet Campaign, Teacher Exchange Program, and MEND, a sophisticated, competitive, and internationally inspired brand catering to style and function. Most recently, Invisible Children partnered with Charity: Water  by using $100,000 to fund water projects in Haiti.

“As a non-profit we work to transform apathy into activism. By documenting the lives of those living in regions of conflict and injustice, we hope to educate and inspire individuals in the Western world to use their unique voice for change. Our media creates an opportunity for people to become part of a grassroots movement that intelligently responds to what’s happening in the world.” [Invisiblechildren.com]

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Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

January 16, 2010 at 4:10 am (Uncategorized)

It’s hard to blog about jewelry when not too far from our shores there is a tragedy unfolding. Today, Cornelia Carey, Executive Director of CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund), e-mailed the following:

“A new decade is upon us and it begins with the hard tragedy unfolding in Haiti. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families as well as those who are on the front lines of the relief efforts there. A number of you have written looking for suggestions about where to send contributions and aid. Our friends at Artist Trust in Seattle have put together this list of aid organizations helping in the relief efforts and this link to a New York Times article lists organizations providing aid. We will be back in touch with you if we have more suggestions to share with you. In the meantime, please find a way to help out in this dire situation and please hold those in Haiti in your heart.”

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) is committed to supporting the careers of craft artists throughout the United States. Through business and career-strengthening programs, emergency relief support, advocacy and research CERF helps professional craft artists strengthen and sustain their careers so that they can thrive and, thus, contribute to the quality of life in our communities.

In addition to the above links from CERF listing legitimate aid organizations, here are some additional aid organizations in the Raleigh/Durham area:

Hearts with Haiti
26 Horne Street, Raleigh
Taki Donovan
haitiart@gmail.com
(919) 758-8085

 Hearts and Hands for Haiti
2013 Midwood Drive, Raleigh, NC 27604
stan@heartsandhandsforhaiti.org
(919) 755-1903

The Haiti Connection
www.thehaiticonnection.org
206 New Bern Place, Raleigh, NC 27601
Bonnie Elam (919) 786-4478
(919) 417-4644 (cell)

Haiti Outreach Ministries
Bill Glass (207) 388- 2263, haitioutreach@hughes.net
Local Contact: Kathy Walmer, RN, MSN, CPNP
Executive Director
Family Health Ministries
2344 Operations Drive, Suite 201
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 382-5500
cell phone  (919) 368-6591
www.familyhm.org

So, keep the people of Haiti in your hearts. I know after seeing the devastation that Hurricane Andrew brought upon my house and South Florida in 1992, that these kinds of disasters last longer than just a sound bite, and that long after the news crews clear out, the people of Haiti will need our support, most likely for years to come.

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Happy New Year

December 31, 2009 at 3:43 pm (Uncategorized)

Sorry the holiday posts have been a little bit inconsistent. I have been enjoying the holidays with my family and am vacationing right now in Florida. I will return January 4th and I will resume with regular posts on the blog. I did want to let you know that due to New Year’s, First Friday is rescheduled for January 8th. Artspace and Studio 109A (along with many of the other downtown art galleries and studios) will be closed January 1st, but will be open late January 8th. Artspace will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I hope to see you there.

Happy New Year!

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