FIERCE is the best word to describe the Be/Longing exhibition. It is emotional and filled with stories that give voice to the rapture and struggle of fierce identity from the diverse perspectives of South East Asian women. It included the artwork of several powerful women artists: Samira Abbassy, Jaishri Abichandani, Nida Abidi, Amina Ahmed, Shelly Bahl, Marcy Chevali, Ruby Chishti, Chitra Ganesh, Monica Jahan Bose, and Sa’dia Rehman. Click here to learn more.
Did you visit any woman-centered art events during Women’s History Month?
After the session, I visited the AMA’s exhibition, On Common Ground: Dominican Republic & Haiti which featured the works of emerging artists of Hispaniola, the island that these two countries share. I fell in love with the artwork at first glance! It reminded me of my 2011 visit to Haiti with the Heart of Haiti Campaign. Check out some of my favorite paintings from the exhibition below.
Since it’s Creativity Thursday, I thought I would share my news about speaking at the Second National Summit: Arts, Health and Well-Being Across the Military Continuum on April 10, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I will serve as a panelist for the Discussion 2: Re-entry/Reintegration Military Treatment Facilities. My co-panelists are Linda O’Neil, a Smith Center artist, and Tara Tappert, Exhibitions Coordinator at Combat Paper Project and archives and American arts consultant. Ermyn F. King, Creative Arts Program Coordinator at Walter Reed, will serve as a the moderator. During the discussion, I will share my experience of working with wounded warriors, military personnel, and hospital staff as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.
Every person is born with a spark of creativity that can awaken them to an amazing life. Throughout my life’s journey, I have witnessed my spark of creativity expand through the nurturing support of other artists. Today, I am remembering Tasko Bey, an amazing master artist I met while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital. When I met Tasko, he was a patient living with cancer and a graduate student in Howard University’s Master of Fine Arts program. Prior to attending Howard, his work was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Our first expressive arts sessions turned into a mini workshop where he served as a teacher and coach. He even gave me homework. For the next two years, he utilized our sessions as teaching moments. In 2005, he urged me to pick up a pencil and draw and use a paint brush to paint my first series of paintings. He showed me how to tap into my intuition for creative guidance and encouraged me to experiment with watercolor, gouache, and acrylic painting.
I fell in love with acrylic paints. As a result, I created a series of paintings that I later used to illustrate my book covers for Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One and That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery. One of my favorite paintings from this series is “That Which Awakens Me: Kreative Grooviness.” See photo above. It hangs in my sunny yellow kitchen and reminds me of Tasko and his passionate love of art. Click here to watch a video about the painting (starts with an introduction to another painting and some of my collages) and my art studio. Enjoy!
Do you draw or paint?
Who or what inspired you to begin drawing or painting?
Today, I am celebrating the amazing wounded warriors, military families, and hospital staff I get to work with as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts each week at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
I’ve been working as a Smith Center artist since 2002. My work at Walter Reed began in 2010. Since then, I have grown to deeply appreciate the many sacrifices our military women, men, and families make on behalf of the United States of America. I have also been able to witness the fantastic creative expressions of military women, men, and their families. What a blessing!
Click here to see photos from my Walter Reed experiences. Enjoy!
When I am not working at Walter Reed, I am always on the look out for creative inspiration. I find it in books, films, magazines, music, social media (Pinterest), web sites, and yoga. This month, I am getting a lot of inspiration from Poets & Writers magazine.
What are your sources of creative inspiration?
PS: If you would like to read about my creative journey, check out my memoir That Which Awakens Me on Amazon.com. It is available on Kindle.
My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One features a main character who works as a museum curator and art consultant in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit the Love’s Troubadours’ Pinterest board which contains some great information about the novel. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.
Today, I am celebrating the power of creative community. Being around like-minded creative people inspires me to open my heart more to all forms of creativity. It also helps me to express my creativity in unique ways.
On February 8, I attended Live Unchained’s Anniversary Celebration and launch of its “Terrifying, Strange and Beautiful” fundraising campaign at Local 16 in my U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Live Unchained is an international arts organization for women across the African diaspora that was established by Kathryn Buford. Click here to read Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project’s profile of Kathryn.
Live Unchained’s “Terrifying, Strange and Beautiful” fundraising campaign is preparing to bring London-based Somali poet, Warsan Shire to Washington, DC for a “Terrifying, Strange and Beautiful” series and awards ceremony in 2014. The campaign’s name “Terrifying, Strange and Beautiful” is taken from a line from one of Shire’s popular poems, “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love.”
During the February 8th celebration, I had a chance to hug and chat with Kathryn about her amazing work. I hung out with one of my favorite digital sisters and creativity accountability partners, Jessica Solomon, Live Unchained’s Connectivity Director. We chatted about the powerful images Live Unchained has been able to share with its online community for the past several years. In addition, I had some great conversations with my digital sisters Nae Carter, founder of I Choose the Sun blog, and Adrienne Burke, a media curator, as we posed for photos.
My creative heart was thrilled to pieces when I viewed the video introducing the “Terrifying, Strange and Beautiful” fundraising campaign on indiegogo.com. Click here to watch the video. And if you are like me, you will make a donation to support Live Unchained. For more information about the fundraising campaign, click here to read the press release.
I hope you had a great weekend! How did you spend it? What were the highlights?
My weekend highlights included attending my Mastermind meditation group meeting, working at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as an artist-in-residence with a retired Army airman who told me some great stories as we created two collages with poems and six word memoirs, hanging out/dancing/sipping on cocktails with my cousin Sharon and her friends at a really cool lounge called Cities, running the Race for Hope DC 5K, spending time with my creative accountability sister Jess at Cafe Collage, writing, going to church, napping, taking some nice long walks, and seeing the Restless City movie at the West End (wonderful movie).
The one thing that really stayed with me was meeting people impacted by brain tumor cancer during the Race for Hope DC 5K race. The conversations I had were deep and at times caused my eyes to water up. When I crossed the finished line, I bowed my head in deep gratitude and dedicated my run to everyone living with brain tumor cancer. Click here to listen to my audio blog that includes some of my Race Day reflections.
So what’s your week looking like?
Mine is all about getting my rest, writing, decluttering, fitness training at the gym, running 3 miles 3x this week in preparation for June 5K, yoga/Reiki/meditation, and finishing my homework from my financial advisor.
I am in the middle of writing my second memoir, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years. It’s my third book in five years!
My creative process is magical, messy, and SLOW right now. I am struggling with the fear of writing a new book and wondering how it will be received. I have turned to my artwork for comfort.
My creative soul has found sanctuary in Collagetry. Collage + Poetry = Collagetry. It is a technique I developed while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital.
A few weeks ago I created several Collagetrys (my made up word) for patients I was working with at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I took photos of the collages because they spoke to my writing fears and life as an artist. See below.
This Memoir Collagetry reminded me to own my story and voice in my writing process. It also reminded me of the collages I made during my first memoir writing process and the energy and inspiration I received after creating them. So I made a mental note to make more time in my writing process for collage.
The message of this Healing Artist Collagetry really touched me: Self-expression. This is you. This is now. Healing artist. Your heart. Watercolor landscape. It offered me permission to use my healing artwork as a path back to my memoir writing.
After reading the book’s description on Amazon.com, I ordered a copy. I started reading the book and have enjoyed the journaling exercises which are forcing me to confront my writing fears. One of my fears is running out of inspiration. So I have turned to Pinterest. I created two inspiration boards for my art and writing. I use them on a regular basis to stay energized. Check out the links below.
I returned to reading Poets & Writers on a regular basis. The February issue focused on inspiration. I have been rereading Frank Bures’ article about creating inner space for inspiration. It reminds me to UNPLUG from technology, my to do list, my writing deadlines, etc. Unplugging creates more time to relax and recharge. When I do it, I am able to surrender. SURRENDER is the key that unlocks the door to my creative process. So wish me luck as I practice the art of surrender from now until the fall season, make Collegetrys to overcome my writing struggles, and complete my fabulous Digital Sisterhood book!
It’s been a few weeks since I last posted. Why? Digital Sisterhood Month! 31 days of celebrating women online and the connections they make, conversations they have, communities they build, causes they support, collaborative partnerships they establish, and commerce they engage in with women they meet online and offline. Visit the Digital Sisterhood Network web site to learn more.
This month my heart belongs to Haiti because I want to honor the resiliency of the Haitian people who experienced a devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. Last year I taught an online yoga class for Yoga Day USA that was dedicated to the people of Haiti. At the beginning of the class, I asked viewers to donate money to Doctors Without Borders to support their work in Haiti. Click here to watch the video.
This year I am serving as an ambassador for the Heart of Haiti campaign, a Macy’s partnership that was created to provide sustainable income to Haitian artisans impacted by the January earthquake. Read my November 29th post to learn more. Also, listen to the following December episodes of Digital Sisterhood Radio that mention my work with the Heart of Haiti campaign:
December 20th show featuring ‘Digital Native’ Lauren Thomas, founder of Digital Aftershock: I discussed how I met Lauren Thomas, former Digital Coordinator of Everywhere, at the Heart of Haiti booth during Blogalicious 2010 and had a powerful conversation that convinced me to sign up for the campaign. I also shared how I interviewed Lauren about the Heart of Haiti campaign with my cell phone for my Cinchcast audio blog at Blogalicious.
I almost forgot to mention that I organized a Digital Sisterhood Month field trip for DC area women in social media to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts on December 3 to see the “Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color” exhibit. During her lifetime, Dr. Jones (born November 3, 1905 – died June 9, 1998), a Howard University art professor (one of my favorite artists), created a body of artwork that was inspired by Haiti and her marriage to Haitian artist Louis Vergniaud Pierre-Noel. One of my greatest treats was showing the women who attended the museum field trip some of my favorite Haitian-inspired paintings created by Dr. Jones. Check out the amazing “Water Carriers” painting on the left side of the blog post.
What do you think?
I LOVE IT and HAITI!
Drop by my blog this week and next week for more posts about my passion for Haiti and work with the Heart of Haiti campaign!