I wanted to share that I was notified this week that I received a MN state arts board creative support grant.  It will provide me with funds to purchase hotshop rental time and glass blowing tools and equipment and I will be providing some virtual guest artist visits to schools, virtual mindfulness classes with some mental health groups helping women and adolescents and creating promotional videos for my work on social media, in addition to creating my glass sculptures and mixed media work.  I am excited and honored.

Stay at Home

In this piece I tried to capture the conflicting emotions of staying at home during Covid-19: Feelings of joy at spending more time with family, playing games, etc contrasted with feeling like you get no time to yourself; feeling happy to have so much time to create art or read and feeling bored at times; enjoying having time to cook delicious homemade meals yet being sick of all the dishes or even cooking some times; feeling safe at home but anxious, stressed or sad because of the pandemic. It is a rollercoaster!

My process: After having the idea/inspiration for this piece, I found a shallow box to paint and added a roof. I cut the silouette to fit into the box. Next I selected several colors of patterned scrap book paper that complimented the silouette. I thought about and typed words in colors to match the papers, cut strips of paper and words and glued them together, then curled the paper into ringlets. It was fun to arrange the curls thinking about the colors, patterns, words and placement around the face.

I have my students and teaching to thank for the piece, “Stay at Home.” I have been teaching elementary and adult art classes online and while I talked to them about their work, I would work on a piece myself to keep my hands busy (pictured above). One great thing about being both a practicing artist and a teacher is that both help you improve the other. When I teach I get inspired to do art myself or to try something new and when I create I gain new understandings and new ideas for art lessons. They go hand in hand, each helping me grow and improve at the other.

Behind the Scenes

During this time of Covid-19, I have not been able to blow glass, so I have been focusing on the multi-media 2-D pieces I am creating as part of a series of blown sculptures and 2-D work focused on teen girls and mental health. Yesterday as I was working on this piece, I was struck by how interesting it looked from the back with the light shining through it. I decided to create this post with photos of close ups and behind the art views, both literally as in the above photo and figuratively with some in progress shots.

I am creating the multi-media pieces using glass, collage, fabric, yarn, paint, lettering and other fibers.

In 1997 I spent a year living in Argentina. While there I painted nearly every day, exploring color theory in abstract and realistic paintings. More recently I have enjoy reading The Aesthetics of Joy by Ingrid Fetell Lee and thinking about the ways things such as color and shape affect our mood because it relates so well to the ways I have described my whimsical glass sculptures. In these 2-D works I have been turning the aesthetics of joy around to use colors and shapes that evoke fear, anxiety, and sadnesses in the paintings.

It is my hope that through this series of artworks I will give insight into the inner feelings of those struggling with mental health and to bring attention to the mental health crisis of our teen girls. As many know this is a topic of great personal meaning and significance to me, so I am grateful for the opportunity to create this work. Stay tuned for the final picture when I complete this painting.

I want to thank Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation for the grant I received to purchase supplies and for expenses so that I will be able to create this series.

Social Isolation

Multi-media piece, “Too Much” in progress for “Disappearing Girl: exploring the myths and realities of teen girls and mental health” compromised of blown glass, fused glass and multi-media 2D work.

While we are all practicing social distancing these days, I thought it would be a good time to think about those who experience social isolation on a daily basis when there isn’t a pandemic in place…those who struggle with mental health diagnosises.  It is a good time to  “step into someone else’s shoes” to create empathy.  I want to point out that empathy is different than pity.  With pity you peer into the hole a person is in and feel bad or sorry for someone’s experience or situation.  As discussed in my daughter’s DBT group, empathy is when you crawl down into the hole with them to listen and open yourself up to any similar pain you have felt yourself, to just listen and acknowledge how hard it must be for them without comparing or judging.  Yet before coronavirus, I doubt many people have ever experienced what it feels like to be socially isolated so it can be hard to have that understanding when you are listening to someone struggling with mental health issues or the isolation some parents of children with special needs feel. Think about the difficult days you are having during this pandemic… whether you struggle with the fear of the unknown length of time, or the dangers if you or a loved one gets it, or the lack of personal human interaction, or the ability to go to work to have a “normal” day or the ability to escape the family issues for a few hours at work where you feel like you know what you are doing, or whatever you find difficult during this time. Then imagine if this was your daily reality for years or knowing that you had no idea how many years it would take to move past. And then you can empathize with those who struggle with depression or anxiety or bi-polar or PTSD or the many other mental health diagnosises or the family members of those struggling with mental health or families that have felt socially isolated from their former friends after having a child with a special needs diagnosis. Open your heart bigger now that you have felt for a moment what they feel daily and remember after the pandemic passes to reach out to them more often. They need you even more when you get back to your “normal” so don’t forget about them now that you have gained empathy.