The Chicago Marathon was one of the most amazing events I’d ever attended. I went to cheer my local domestic violence shelter’s runners. We went to the corner of 33rd and State Street with our hand clappers and noise makers. I have had two people in my family who have run the marathon and their courage has actually inspired me. It was said that two million people came out for the event.
I have been asked to write about this event for a while and I have refrained because words cannot even describe how important this art instillation was to me. It was important on a professional level because as a former psychiatric nurse, I have seen a lot of people who have been depressed and suicidal. Personally, I have had my share of trauma, but as I have said before, textiles have greatly helped me.
The art instillation was covered on WCIU. There was an anthology made about the event. It was a mixed media art instillation. We had to write five pages on nonfiction or poetry. Then we had to make a visual piece of our choice in any genre (collage, paint, pottery, clay, photography, textiles, etc.). I learned how to complete a grandmother’s flower garden quilt (finally!).
The event was held on the seventh floor of Macy’s on State Street. There were art stations and we had to demonstrate to people how we made our pieces. Someone I didn’t know decided to paint a picture of sunflowers, inspired by my art quilt and I took a picture in front of it.
The food was incredible. My hairdresser dyed my hair 10 shades lighter than I wanted it to be. My black patent platform high heels were completely uncomfortable. It was my first art instillation in nearly seven years, but I personally felt great things came to me because I waited. My identity as a mixed media artist became more solidified by participating in this project. It definitely got me thinking about the possibilities that existed for me as a mixed media artist.
But this year wasn’t just abundant creatively for a few people. My dear friend Tanima Kazi made her own dream of becoming an author come true as well. We have known each other from our very first creative writing class together at Harper College in Professor Greg Herriges class. She had a very special spot just for her at the Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row, the largest Midwestern book fair. Her book How to Escape an Arranged Marriage in High Heels is a cross between women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Much like Eat, Pray, Love, Tanima’s book is a coming of age story about a young woman who goes on an inward journey to find herself before finding Mr. Right. Much like the road to publishing, our heroine finds quite a bit of adventure along the way.
I am sorry if I have never publically acknowledged this fact, but I will right now. It is through the genre writers, most especially the romance writers, that I have been able to recover my creativity, both as a writer and as a textile artist. I have always read everything: fiction, nonfiction and poetry. I am a part of a number of professional writing organizations, which is essential if you are going to be a writer. One of those professional writing organizations is Romance Writers of America.
There are smaller groups that meet on specific days of the week at specific times, such as Windy City RWA and Chicago North RWA. I joined RWA with a story based on my experiences as a nurse that I wanted to develop, but didn’t know how.
I have spent most of my time with Windy City RWA in Naperville because their meeting times fit best with my work schedule. This where I met Sonali Dev. She literally took me under her wing, told me what craft instruction classes I needed to take and exactly what I needed to do to benefit from this wonderful organization. I am very grateful! To become a published author is a dream she has harbored for a very long time. I am also happy to see her out here promoting her books.
October is National Domestic Violence Month. I’ve been putting more time in at my local domestic violence shelter to help out. Volunteering is very good for people with backgrounds of trauma. It allows time to get out of your own issues and help someone else. I even made the purple ribbons. No one wanted this job. “It’s too time consuming, artsy and crafty,” people told me. “You do it.” I was happy to. There will be panel discussions at local colleges, discount dinners at select restaurants where the money goes towards domestic violence shelters, runners participating in the Chicago Marathon on behalf of local shelters. And more posters like this are hanging in public areas offering the services of local shelters.