In 1997, I was invited to teach an art class to participants at the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea. They hold a three-week session twice a year for low income, middle age women who want a better life. I designed an Art For Self-Expression class as a creative way for them to process their three weeks at the school.
I loved these sessions and the idea dawned on me that perhaps working with women was a good fit for me. Twenty years later I’m still an instructor.
Art is not a thing, but a way…a way to give a voice to what lies within. I was beginning to feel clearer about my purpose and developed a mission statement for my work as an artist: "To use the power of the creative process to help others tap their creativity and use it for life reflection, growth and self-healing."
More opportunities to share the self-expression workshops to women’s groups came along. I began leading creative projects for organizations and I made more art.
Yet, I still felt unsettled. I had a good life, health, a devoted loving husband, a happy daughter who was flourishing, a nice home, good friends, and loving pets. Life was much better than where I started, much better after therapy too. Yet there still existed a longing.
I no longer enjoyed making art. I was making sculptures then. It had become to feel much to labor intensive with no color, mostly browns. I looked around me…I was surrounded by natural beauty, forests, flowers and colorful birds. I wanted to experience more joy so I thought I would start with adding color in my life.
I went to a Women’s Retreat and Intuitive Abstract Painting Workshop in California. I had so much fun and felt so adventurous to do something wild and crazy like that all by myself. I started working with bright colors.
One step of the journey leads to the next. I learned the benefit of getting quiet enough to hear and follow that inner voice.
I was invited to go to Japan in October 2008 with the Madison County Sister City Delegation as the artist in the artist exchange program. I found I was full of joy every day while I was there. As I reflected, I was determined to preserve the happiness on my return home. In Japan, I was excited for what the day would bring, I didn’t know what was next. I was present in each moment and I felt, alive.
When I returned home with these reflections fresh in my mind, I started researching what was happening around arts and healing. What were other people doing? I remembered having listened to a radio story that was about an artist, a writer who was providing an artist in residence program to employees at NASA. I thought I could offer that at our local hospital, so I learned more.
A year later I was invited to a meeting with the President of our local hospital. He was interested in the hospital reflecting the Berea Community especially the arts. He said to me, if you could do something here what would it be? You know what they say…luck is preparation-meeting opportunity.
I jumped right in and said; I want to be your artist in residence. He wanted to know more.