Category Archives: Art

Big thoughts on a blank page

I miss your blog.
You should write more.
You have so much to say.

I need to hold onto those statements by friends and colleagues as I, as well as many others, get occasionally trapped thinking we are impostors. I see this happen to many of my artistic friends and it’s only when we allow ourselves to be authentic do we get to the places we need to go or the results we are seeking. There are so many people in the disability field with different voices, yet each of us has a different story unique to ourselves. Our triumphs, tribulations, strengths, flaws, and so many other pieces are what provides the whole picture. I get stuck in my head at times and as entertaining as it is there, it’s important for me to connect with others. It’s important to remind myself my flaws are part of my whole picture.

I do have something to say.
My voice can impact change.
The fact that I can’t fold my own laundry in a timely fashion has no impact on my ability to help others.

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For those of you who’ve seen this website before you may realize I’ve tweaked it a bit and will be doing some more soon. I’ve also been silent here because it’s taken time getting all my ducks in a row as my dreams are becoming a reality. This fall, I am beginning to offer movement classes for children and adults in the Southern Maine area. Although the intention is for these classes to geared towards the disability community, all are welcomed to attend. The dates, times, and signups will be on this site and my FaceBook page when they become public.

I’ve also begun the first baby steps of creating a non profit on this same area. The Way We Move, based on the title of the Fringe Show I created this past spring, will work to create accessible Movement and Arts programs, performances, and eventually an artistic vocational track. Although the base of operations will be in Maine, there is already interest in bringing this to Colorado, Chicago, and other places around the country.

Right now, I’m currently teach the 3 week Film Camp at S.P.E.A.K.S. for the third year in a row. It’s so wonderful here and the campers are all great. We have already filmed our commercials and this week are creating great group films on the theme of Nature. Some of these kids have been in the camp for all 3 years and to see how they have grown into themselves is wonderful. I was lucky enough to have an artistic mother who supported me and I’m so happy these campers can embrace the arts in their own ways.

Poster Perfect

Back in school, we always were required to make poster projects. These posters would need to be colorful and informative about some random subject matter. I’ve done posters about frogs and constellations and advanced biology topics. Posters and I go way back. When I was younger, my mother would help me create these works of art. I can arrange things, but the actually act of writing all the information down in a neat way is not my forte.

So what’s very interesting is that I will actually be doing a poster presentation at OCALI. Yup, I put myself in a position to create a poster without being graded on it. So my biggest challenge is making things look very neat and clean. I don’t have the best penmanship, but I do have creativity!

Here’s a little sneak peek at my poster. It will be displayed in the exhibit hall beginning Wednesday. I hope to see some of you around the conference!

Act One!

There were some special nights when I was younger and my mother would give us dinner early so the babysitter wouldn’t need to worry about feeding us. After I wolfed down dinner I’d rush up and sit on my parent’s bed watching my mother get ready. There was this perfumed powder she’d put on only on these special nights. Studying the details for a test that would never come, I watched my mother put on her jewelry and the special black dress. My parents were off to the fancy land of the opera.

Decades later, I’m scrambling out of the shower and walking around my apartment half dressed. There’s not enough time for a meal and my mascara is smudged. Most of the time when I’m getting ready to go out I look like I’m in a state of chaos, it’s just how I am. So I scrambled to find two matching shoes and I ignored the tights with a rip in the leg, very grateful I quickly shaved/bloodied my legs in the shower. I was off to the Opera!

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“La più divina delle poesie è quella, amico, che c’insegna amare!”
The highest purpose of poetry is to teach us to love!”
-La Boheme
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 The ability for art to affect us is an amazing thing. I spend the last 20 minutes of La Boheme bawling my eyes out with the raw emotion and then I spend the next several hours plotting new creative endeavors.

Why?
 The truth is very simple; I must create.

There are days I wish I was not this way. I think the world must look a whole lot simpler if you don’t want to make anything new. To be comfortable with the monotony and have no desire to grow, well that sounds like a fairytale to me. Or at least a Fantasy short story. Image that: a world filled with people happy to live their lives without art or creativity. Okay, that sounds like a horror movie even in the blueprint stages.

Most of the people I am close to in my life are creative souls. We have dayjobs to support ourselves and then in our “free time” we preform for anyone who will watch or we put our art on display for others to observe. We are the type of people who put our souls into a 3 minute dance or on a simple piece of paper. We bare it all because, well, we need to.

By seeing the world as Art and Beauty, it is our calling to spread the gift to others. It is a big responsibility; relaying the message of beauty in the everyday to perfect strangers or friends. Sometimes it is easier to preform for a room full of strangers than to preform in a room with just a few friends. Yet we do it every day and every week, we put ourselves out there for others to see.

And it’s scary,
Terrifying,
Heartaching,
Petrifying,
and the most rewarding thing in the world.

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It’s the little blonde girl in the pink sundress, too shy to say “Hello”. She stands behind her siblings as they pop bubbles. She is keeping her distance for a bit until she knows what is going on and how to act. It’s the Mime she talks to first and when she does talk, the conversation comes easily. She asked questions with the answers given back in pantomime. I always find it adorable when people try to talk to the mime. I let the family know our show will be starting and we need to go get ready, but they should come see the show.

From the stage, which is just an empty corner of a large antique hall, I see our friends sitting in the front row. Eyes fixed on the stage the entire show, the children look as if they are taking notes or memorizing everything for later re-watching.

Our show wraps and we begin to pack away our gear when the Aunt of the little girl comes over to talk to us. She’s never seen her sit still for so long or have the attention span for anything like that. She tells us the girl is Autistic. I just smile when I hear this because I know she was taking notes. She was thinking about what she can create and what costumes she can wear.

To help to change a life for a second, even if the little girl never remembers seeing our show, that makes everything worthwhile. That is the love of Art.

Review You

List 1 personal goal for the upcoming year. (Optional)

Shit.

Normally I can BS my way around this question, but it’s seriously making me think. It’s very difficult to simplify my goals because they are so grand. Dreams should be big so even if you can’t reach them, you at least get somewhere. I’ve always dreamed big ever since I was a kid.

I was raised to believe I could do almost anything. Being an Astronaut was out of the question due to my height, as I was informed by my father at age 8 and thus forever crushing my space camp dreams. So when you raise a creative child with the belief that they are limitless in their possibilities, it tends to stay with them into adulthood. I firmly believe I can do anything I set my mind to and reach any goal if it’s truly what I want.

There’s the problem.
I have goals, I’m not sure what I want.

My goals are scattered on the backs of random pieces of paper like treasure maps.

Three paces past the square rock.

If someone else is trying to read my map, they won’t understand any of it.

Spit towards the wind and hop three times that way.

Although appearing disjointed and unrelated, there are things connecting the goals.

Spin around until you fall towards your next move.

It’s not always obvious….

Grapevine twice towards the water.

But I know where I’m going.

X marks the spot.

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

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It was during a martial art’s class when we were asked the question so familiar to kids.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Sitting on the matted floor, I raised my hand high.

“I want to be happy,” I said.

My friends and instructor laughed.

The other students talked about being doctors and lawyers and bakers. They dreamed of stability and had already planned out the person they wanted to be. Their job was going to define who they were. They would be Doctors or Lawyers or Bakers. If someone where to ask them what they do for a living, they would give their job title.

People ask me what I do and I tell them I play with fire or I say a I’m a professional pirate in a vaudeville troupe. My titles are not important and I’m unable to fit in a neat little description. Some of my goals for this week involve laundry, mermaids, and hair dye.

And sleep, I always forget that one.

List 1 personal goal for the upcoming year. (Optional)
-Figure out what I want.

Model Citizen

After following directions down gravel roads in Maine, the picturesque house nestled in the woods almost looked out of place. This house had  perfectly manicured flower beds weaving around the lawn, beckoning people to come closer. No cars could be heard from the nearby roads so the soundtrack was only of nature. The song birds were singing their stereotypical pretty songs as I parked my car behind other cars and walked into the house.
The door was open and a friendly voice called me into the living room where people were setting up. Up and up the narrow staircase went as my feet carried me to the bathroom door. Once inside, I could hear and see the workmen dotting the backyard with their tools and ladders. The bathroom door locked with a ‘click’ and I began to disrobe. Naked inside the beautifully decorated bathroom, there was a moment of hesitation. The insecurities of my body tried to bubble up to the surface but were quickly muted by the draping of my silk robe over my body. 
Down and down the narrow stairs my bare feet carried me back to the living room where I was expected. Placing my purse by the draped chaise lounge, a purse which had the important things like my car keys and my clothes, the only thing left to do was lose the robe. With all eyes on me, I removed my robe and reclined into the gorgeous piece of furniture in the center of everyone.
“Your left elbow was higher.”
“The head was a little more to the right. Yes, there.”
“That foot does not look right.”
“Can someone move those books of the table, they are blocking me.”
“Your hair was… oh yes… like that.”
“Is everyone good? Let’s go for 20. Okay?”
Hearing the ticking of the egg timer, I focused my eyes on a grand antique clock directly in front of me as every muscle in my body began to try to relax. The sound of papers, pencils, paints, canvas, easels, and water blocked out the pounding noise of the workmen just feet away. Never making eye contact, I scanned the room as people fell into their own rhythm. 
So began my first nude modeling session.
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Growing up with an artist for a mother, modeling started before learning to walk. She would take photos and create drawings based on those pictures. Being the first born, I had a baby book with hand drawn pictures of me being an adorable child. When I became old enough to understand the phrase “don’t move” my mother upgraded to sketching me directly. Lounging in a way I felt comfortable looked ‘artistic’ or ‘stylized’ so more and more the sketchbook would come out. The only downside to modeling would be the occasions I’d read a book and come to the end of it when my mother had just begun to sketch.
During the difficult time of battling the forces of darkness, my father, the sketching stopped. If someone compiled all the sketches my mother has ever done of me there would be a sharp transition from a chubby cheeked blonde child to a tall red headed 20 year old; the cheeks and eyes always stayed the same. Unlike child stars, I was fortunate enough to go through puberty without it being recorded in any way. My hiatus from modeling ended midway through college. My mother, the one who started me years before, was the restart of my modeling. Her drawing groups were in need of models and I was in need of cash. She had been an artist model before and thought I would be perfect for the position.
My hesitation came from the nudity part of the job. I’ve never been modest, truth be told, but those were situations with others in various states of undress. Nude modeling requires being naked while fully clothed people look at every detail of your body. I worried about imperfections like scars or blemishes or bruises. What would they think of me? It was the nakedness, being vulnerable in a room of strangers or peers, that terrified me.
I was terrified before I ever booked my first session.
My mother reassured me that artists care more about the model not moving than some physical attributes I thought important. They were not looking at my unshaven legs or if my roots were showing. They only wanted a model who would not move at all, which is surprisingly tricky for those who have never done it before. I was a form, an image for them to draw and nothing more. It didn’t matter if it was a bowl of fruit or a cat or a nude, the artists were trying to capture an image. 
She was right, of course.
My body was a flesh colored bowl of fruit.
Since restarting modeling, my opinion of the human body has…shifted. The body is a beautiful thing. It is a vessel we have control over, for the most part. Our bodies tell our life story in pictures, shapes, and contours. You can tell a lot about a person by their body. It is not just what the body looks like, but how it moves and how it rests. The beauty of the stripped form has nothing to do with sexuality, it is just raw human essence. Across centuries and cultures, the human form connects all individuals who have lived or who ever will live. In a world where everyone is separate and distinct, it is so amazing that we share a basic template of appearance. 
Head
Hair
Eyes
Nose
Ears
Mouth
Torso
Legs
Arms
So many different combinations! It really is amazing if you stop to think about it.

The vulnerability of being nude never really hit me. Yes, I have been nude in rooms of strangers dozens of times so far but I have never been truly naked in those situations. My body is inspiration, a blueprint if you will. Some of the art created looks nothing like me because the artists made the choice to use a different face or different hair. I’m fine with nudity, but nakedness is something else entirely.

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There were four of us in the car driving southbound on Interstate 95 in the evening after preforming in a show together. The car was warm with laughter and conversation between good friends. We all knew each other well and I considered these women sisters in my crazy Vaudeville life. We did not just get the social niceties afforded for passing acquaintances, we took interest in each others lives and shared the bond only other artists can have. The bond connecting the type of people who value beauty in the world and actively seek out ways to bring more beauty into the world. Artists who take 9-5 jobs to be able to live sequin dreams instead of only seeing others while wondering “What if”.

After a good show and in the privacy of the darkness, also after a nice Rum, I talked.

My strongest medium so far is not with oils or with watercolor, but words.

So I talked about my father and I talked about myself.

The story I’ve told so many times, I sometimes forget it belongs to me and not someone else.



In a world where silence gives power to secrets it always was my mission to reclaim the power.
My power.

I wrap myself in stories, both good and bad, to cover my body. Some stories show my smile, in my eyes or with my mouth. Other stories let you see the scars, never noticed until pointed out. My modesty does kick in at times because not every can see me naked, most people I can’t trust to see me like that. Some have run from my nakedness as they are startled to realize their own nakedness. Others become angry and think my nakedness vulgar. I take no offense as I redress before them. Nakedness is not for everyone.

The reason for my nakedness or nudity is the same; to give inspiration to others.

My friend reached over to hug me after I finished talking. The car was silent as the passengers in the front thanked me for sharing a piece of me. My hug continued as my friend had no words strong enough to give, but needing to let me know she felt my words. We drove on the fog covered roads towards our homes. There we would undress alone or with partners or with pets; our own stories written on our skin and in our movements.

Me?

Well I fell asleep in my bed wearing the same clothes I had preformed in and still wearing my makeup.

It was too cold to sleep naked that night.