Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tanzanian Artists Workshop

Well, it's been some time since I was able to write on the ole' blog. There's tons of things to talk about, but will first address an awesome teaching experience.

On October 15, 2009, it was my pleasure to teach a workshop on "Fabric and Words" at the Ohio Craft Museum here in town. This was a special class held exclusively for 14 women artists delegates from Tanzania, visiting the U.S. More on this later. It was exciting when ten minutes into the class the room became filled with these pure in sound voices as the women broke into spontaneous song in order to "get in the mood to create". We ended up painting on carpentry aprons from Lowes hardware(they were inexpensive and provided a good surface for the acrylics we used). I'm always looking for my tools and pencils while working in the studio and often wear a full apron with pockets. When I saw these gems I immediately knew that their 78 cents price tag was perfect.
The room was filled with an "artists hum" as the women exchanged ideas and kept up with the ususal chatter we're good for.

An awesome exchange it was indeed, for several reasons. One how many opportunities do you get to sit and make art with women from another country/culture, right in your own backyard? Secondly,the women taught me the importance of addressing issues of concern through their created pieces, which led to the third point. The important issues that had been swirling in my mind and heart for some time needed to be released and allowed to take form through my art. Here I stood again, thinking it was about me pouring into them but I truly received just as much from my sisters from Tanzania...and I was glad to be able to share that with them!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mixed Bag of Emotions

Mixed emotions, anxiousness and excitement combined in the same easy swallow gel cap that I threw into my mouth and washed down with a cup of tepid water over a year ago. This is how it always begins as I move towards the goal of the next exhibit. In this case, November 1, 2009, my still untitled solo exhibition at Columbus State Community College. Some anxiousness because I'm returning to the "box art" process for this exhibition and producing approximately 25 new pieces. As always, there seems to be a million things to do(mostly unrelated to the show) and the clock is ticking.

Tonight our son is starting in his high school's varsity football game for the first time and has shared over the past few days his nervousness. As my husband pointed this out to me yesterday, I turned and shared my Mother Wisdom(as I'm always more than eager to do)with him. "I would think something was wrong if #3 child(when did I first begin calling our children by numbers?)wasn't nervous. Why if he weren't I'd think that he was too cocky and that state of mind can set you up for a hard fall. Besides, he'll be just fine whether he performs well or not on the field." Somewhere in that conversation must have been talking to myself!

So it's the mixed bag of emotions gel cap that I swallow each time a date is placed on my calendar for the next exhibit. Emotions that keep me grounded and serve as a reminder that I'm not in total control of this artist comes from a place deep within, so relax and let it flow.

The top left photo shows boxes on my studio shelf awaiting use while the top right are boxes so generously donated by the Norwood family...thanks guys! Bottom photo shows my dog expressing mixed emotions over the huge bag of boxes being brought into the house...guess I didn't check in with her first.

Each week I'll be sharing some of the process of making a "box art" collage.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Teaching the Teacher

Well, my mother shared some insightful words of wisdom with me the other day. As I was excitedly telling her about experiencing a change in my teaching experience this summer( game was stepped up)she calmly informed me that "that's what teaching is all about." Now my beloved Mom is a retired elementary school principal and prior to that taught in the classroom for many years, so needless to say her words of wisdom go a long way with me. So, if this sensing of ones' skills being elevated to a new level as a result of the interaction with students and support staff...why did this feel so new to me after many years of teaching? If you're expecting a profound answer from me, I'm not sure you'll find it here. The only thing I know for certain is at the end of the summer I experienced a heightened sense of responsibility and honor that comes with the profession that many often respond to with a loud guttural "ugh!" I realize that I've been blessed with the capacity to really enjoy working with children. My students are always greatly appreciated for their honesty(even if I don't want to hear it), humor(nothing funnier than a classroom of kindergartners, for example)and capacity to express their love for you through countless pictures that are thoughtfully executed and left on your desk, hugs, and offers to share their candy(even when they've already bitten into it).

Each day I find myself praying that God will show me how to make art exciting for those I serve. What I now know, is that he's been answering my requests all along and even threw in a bonus of allowing me to experience many "aha" moments that come when the students teach the teacher. Therefore, to God, Mom and my students I respond with a heartfelt "thank you!"

Monday, September 7, 2009

Aaahh! It's Good To Be Back!

Well, after many months away from the good ole' blog site, busy with the May exhibition and teaching this summer...things are winding down and returning to my regularly scheduled program. This summer was a blur but lots of fun with highlights being: all the children home(and boyfriends) for our nephew's wedding in Dayton, Ohio...festivals...driving to Winston-Salem, N.C. to meet friends for the National Black Theatre Festival...the beautiful catalogue that the King Arts Complex provided for the exhibit and the wonderful words shared in statements by Dr. Barbara Nicholson, Executive Director and Ms. Bettye Stull, Curator... closing reception for Evolution of the Girl Child... and Women of Vision coming down from Pittsburgh to join us and the delicious food we had at LaVerne's afterwards.

This summer had me teaching for the first time at the Ohio Craft Museum, which was such a learning experience for me that I felt that I was enriched as an instructor as a result. Was able to chat with fiber artist, LaVerne Kemp a few times during break periods and peaked in on her wonderful felting projects. The kids were fantastic, thanks Ms. Betty Talbott for getting me involved with the program and the wonderful children. Thanks to the Greater Columbus Arts Council(GCAC)and Ohio State University for our Art In the House(AIH) visiting artist, Jingfei Li and Jeff Chan(OSU)
for sharing the art of Chinese kite making with our students in July.
I'm always excited when there's an opportunity to share a new experience with my kids in the AIH program particularly. To actually have Jingfei visit on her tour of the U.S. from the province of Yunan was quite remarkable and memorable! The history behind the kites was very interesting. Thanks Oulanje for the arrangements made in order to get them to us on short notice. We had great fun even though the weather didn't allow us to fly our kites that day!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Well, guess you could say I took a little vacation from the blog...didn't mean to, it just happened. It's such a good day and I've been truly blessed as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, mother, aunt, niece, granddaughter, artist, teacher and mentor. I love being me and the life that God has blessed me with. I thank him daily for the journey and for everyone and everything He brings into my life. I thank Him for being able to rise each day to address the creativity within me...just love it!

I'm trying to "see" because my eyes are full of tears. Recently worked on new pieces for the upcoming group exhibit "Sistahs of the Arts: Evolution of the Girl Child" which will open on May 7th at the King Arts Complex. This work drew me deep within to look at my life and selected moments from my journey as an artist beginning at age twenty. It's not where I thought the work would begin at all. I had envisioned the frilly dress period and much to do with my birthplace of Kentucky...but it didn't happen that way. Went as far as researching my family history even more, hunted through my stash for additional pairs of "little girls black patent leathers", online searches, many sketches and plans. However, the creative spirit within took me someplace a place and time in my life when I "froze" and couldn't move past the hurt and pain. A time when I said, "I won't do this art any more" a time and place of much
inner a time and place where I no longer wanted to be me(the artist).

But it's an AWFULLY GOOD DAY when you can look back and see where God has brought you...from a place of despair to that of great joy and faith! Yes, IT'S A GREAT DAY!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pushing Past the Comfort Zone

Sometimes while looking at an old piece of my work I experience a moment of "what if?". Typically during this time my mind wanders to a place other than where I think I should be focused at that given moment in time. Most times the current piece of work is set aside so that the birthing of a new idea can take place. Usually this birthing requires me to "push past my comfort zone" to create something that has been swirling around in my mind sub-consciously. A lot of times the urge to "push past" is accompanied by some fear of messing up what my physical eyes see as a fine piece of work. The "pushing past the comfort zone" I do believe is my spirit yelling out "don't become boring for the sake of safety, dare to be new."

With that being said I'm now "pushing past my comfort zone" into an area that I've desired to go for some time and that's fabric and embellishment. Above is one of my mini mask which originated from a piece done a couple of years ago titled, "The Voyage". The image was scanned, elongated a bit and printed to canvas. Hmmm, what else can you do says Spirit? Well, I immediately thought the mask would look great on a piece of craft felt(can never have too much color). So on to the felt the mask went, but again Spirit spoke and said that's safe and boring. So the mask asked for a few stitches and a shirt. By now the piece has titled itself and asked to be accompanied by the rest of his family members. So the creation of the "Urban Warriors" was born. This series pays tribute to some important unsung stay tuned.

1)First image is safe and boring.

2) Responding (on right)to the urge for stitching and embellishment which includes various beads including seed.

3) Now the third image(below) is my response to Spirit when urged to try a digital enhancement which resulted in the woodcut image.

All images on this site are copyrighted.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Passing The Torch"

Well, last weeks reception at the Rhodes Tower for "Passing On the Torch" was great. There are so many talented artists in Columbus and around the state. Ran into some old friends and met new ones as well. Antoinette of Ancestral Blessings has her dolls showcased in the main entrance behind the security desk...check 'em out. Stephanie Matthews B/W photos are amazing and her website photos of children of the Congo brought tears to my eyes. Textile artist LaVerne Kemp has a wonderful family tree including roots that cascade and trail across the floor. Met painter, Curtis Goldstein, who does some wonderful the way love your paintings of various landmarks around town, especially the old diner in the Short North. Teri T's mixed media work continues to evolve, while one of Aaron T's paintings is coming home with me. Lauren Luna's black and white paintings are also evolving...And of course, I have to thank all the ladies from SOTA(Sistahs of the Arts) for coming out and supporting us...Freda, Nora, Xantha and Voszi. The exhibit is up through the end of the month if you haven't had a chance to catch it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Heart's Desire

What's the object of my heart's desire? Depends on what day you ask me...but typically my heart's desire is to honor God in all that I do...learn to love as Christ loved(unconditionally). Thought I had that one down until the end of last year when God made it so apparent to me that I wasn't "walking in love." I'd been estranged from a family member for too long and God wanted restoration to take place in my family. It's amazing how an act of restoration could impact my art.

All I know is that the work has been jumping off my table since making peace with my family member. Sometimes we encounter offenses in our lives that we feel are too great to forgive...the nonsensical killing of a loved one...spurned love...or someone who just didn't treat us right! Sometimes we don't even remember the original offense 'cause we're just plain old mad. What I've come to realize is that my unforgiving spirit was a huge stumbling block. Got anyone you need to forgive?

On a different note have two pieces along with sistah artist Antoinette at the "Passing the Torch" exhibition for Black History Month. Looking forward to the reception this week. Included in the exhibit which features 60+ artists from Ohio are my two pieces titled "Rose" and "Domestic".

Both "Rose" and "The Domestic" were from my first large solo exhibition in 2007. With both of these pieces I was exploring some different techniques with my collage work. "Rose" was the first time I experimented with the use of bees wax and melted crayon. The outline of her body is black fabric, while the rest of the clothing and accessories utilize paper towel, vintage wallpaper and buttons. Her face is again my collage and acrylic with color pencil on black fabric. After completing her I covered the entire stretched canvas in melted bees wax. The background began with a bright red(you know I luv some red) and then a layer of walnut dye was brushed on. "Rose" is a hard worker but makes a point to never miss church on Sundays.

"The Domestic" actually began with a piece of archival fome core that I normally use as backing when framing. It has a couple of layers of green paint with a reddish brown acrylic added with a sponge for the background. The face is the collage on fabric with acrylic. She was fun to do and yes, it's a woman (she's been mistaken for a male on many occasions) she's not had an easy life. Clothing is white duck cloth, buttons and paint for the shading. She pays tribute to all our mothers and grandmothers who have done "day work". Cooking, cleaning, ironing and looking after other peoples children.

So, guess you could say right now my heart's desire is to continue birthing these art pieces and trying to discover all that's within.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Well, the cast is off and I did a rather odd thing(not unusual for me)as I was leaving the exam room...I tapped the discarded cast with the tip of my crutch, as it was laying on the floor and told it good-bye. Mind you, this piece of fiberglass had become a part of my life for the past three weeks. It continued to hug my left leg even when I didn't like it's presence and had said so out loud or when I felt like crying because "my life" had been so annoyingly disrupted as a result of it's undying devotion to me.

I can't begin to share how many lessons I've learned over these "few" weeks...about myself, my family, priorities and how time is spent. One of the greatest lessons happened Wednesday around noon when I said a quick good-bye to the cast. Webster's dictionary shows one definition as, cast: to throw off, out, or away : as (1): to get rid of : DISCARD (2) SHED, MOLT (a snake casts its skin). I feel as though I cast off old ways of thinking about myself as an artist...yes, I am becoming more business minded, organized and productive.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
- Marianne Williamson (from the film "Akeelah and the Bee")

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Hmmm...four more days until my next visit to the doctor to check the status of my ankle and to see if the hard cast comes off. Can't believe that I'm actually enjoying this time in a way. One of the reasons is that I've learned how much time I waste on a daily basis due to distractions, running around in the grocery and art supply stores, etc. Having these weeks of convalescence has also given me time to think about the importance of organization in my studio...OK Antoinette, now that your studio is done can I get on your list for help? As a working artist, organization is crucial and can translate into a loss of income as a direct result of wasted time in your work space. I'm amazed at how many pieces of work I'm completing on a daily basis. I've continued to work on "boxart" for the "Dancing Divas" and "Masks" series with much hope that the work will continue to evolve over the next few weeks. The colors are vibrant and have a cazy energy about them that I love.

A couple of weeks ago I was writing about the "Hard Cast Blues" because I felt like whining a little and handling the crutches was a lot harder than I'd expected and hey...Mom needed some attention! By day 4 I realized the sympathy wasn't coming from anyone in this house(they're a tough bunch)and that I'd better figure out the crutches fast before I broke my neck! By the way my son told me he has a greater appreciation for me and what I do for the family...OK, they're not so tough after all. The"Hard Cast Blues" may take on a different meaning once I'm able to return to my normal routine(laundry, transporting our son, cooking, cleaning, working, etc.)and all those things that seem at times to interfere with the creative flow.

Well,the 'ole camera batteries are dead...need to get some before Wednesday so I can post shots of recent works and the cast of course!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well, last Saturday Antoinette and Nicki dropped by in the early afternoon with a delicious Caribbean lunch from Ms. Ena's and their art supplies in hand. Nicki(artist and jewelry designer) came prepared with a beautiful black handbag filled with her infamous puff paints, while Antoinette(doll maker and seamstress) brought cowrie shells, cloth, needle and thread. Since I'm still unable to move about much(see Hard Cast Blues post)they were good for both my sanity and creative juices.

After lunch my husband brought the latest issue of Cloth*Paper Scissors in from the mailbox...right on time. In the January/February issue is an article by Alisa Burke called Paper&Plastic, which outlines how to make some funky handbags out of plastic grocery bags. We decided to give the technique a try and it actually worked quite well,but we never got as far as constructing the actual purse. Needless to say the plastic bag fusing technique held so much promise that we found ourselves looking at a plastic bustier, bows, faces and beautiful lacy textures that would serve as phenomenal backgrounds in my collage work. It's amazing to find yet another opportunity to recycle another throw away item. Probably sent my youngest daughter up the stairs looking for more precious items(washers, screw eyes, small canvasses,etc.) that would be added to the heaping pile of materials we shared over the next eight hours or so, more times than I can remember.Imaginations and creative juices flowed as we huddled over the kitchen table grooving to music, talking and making art in "the zone" until 11:30 p.m.

Yes, how time does fly when you're having fun! Talking about having an art attack...yes, it was quite an experience. By the time the evening had wound down, pizza and wings had been consumed along with coffee and those delicious Godiva biscuits Olivia sent me. We looked at what we had created, new techniques learned, insight we had gleaned from each others creative flow and realized the importance of sharing and encouraging each other as artists. In the meantime I'm looking forward to the next Art Attack!

God Bless and Happy New Year!