Keeping Dreams Alive Charity Gala 2017

“Making dream catchers is fun!” is what I thought about this year’s charity gala for South Suburban Family Shelter’s Keeping Dreams Alive charity gala for 2017. At first, I wasn’t planning on going, but my schedule opened up.

I will admit the prospect of making dream catchers became another appeal of going this year! This was my first time making a dream catcher. Oh sure, there are books that detail how to make dream catchers, but we allowed ourselves to have a “creativity workshop” so to speak, before the event to let our imaginations soar!

We had yarn, ribbons, gold hoops, satin flowers and doilies all around us, in addition to banana bread, pizza and great company to further fuel our imagination. I made the Purple Heart dream catcher. It was not easy. I wanted for the yarn to be all over the dream catcher in a web like pattern with the only hollow part being the heart. Well, that didn’t work out.

As a matter of fact, it kept not working out for three whole hours! I had the choice to either give up or come up with a new, improved and simplified design. What can I say? I love making things, so I came up with a new design: Place yarn on the heart only. Then use purple ribbon on the bottom. No one but me knows how much I had to use the glue gun and two sided tape, like one layer after the other, to make that yarn stick to the heart and the entire hoop to hold together and not fall apart. There now! Problem solved! Actor Samuel J. Jackson said, “Sometimes we suffer for our craft.”

Don’t I know it. . .

The people who had an easier time had the crochet dollies to tie onto the gold hoops. They were done with those dream catchers in thirty minutes. They were smart. Now why didn’t I think of that?

Anyway, it was a fun time as usual. I volunteered for the event. The tables looked lovely with their dream catchers. There was a dream wall with requests of needed items for the shelter. The wall had clouds and stars. There were written descriptions of our “Wall of Dreams” on each table.

Within the current political climate and our resources dwindling, our dream came true to continue to keep going, even for a night.

Manifesting Healthy Futures Art Instillation at Macy’s

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.

Manifesting 3Manifesting 2

The Smart Ass Cripple!

People with physical limitations have a high rate of domestic violence. There are articles written about this issue in nursing journals and magazines specifically geared for people with physical limitations. Sometimes people who are wheelchair bound have their wheelchairs taken away from them and are locked in a room for hours at a time with no assistance. People who are unable to see or hear are assaulted because they cannot see who is trying to hit them. These abuses occur with both men and women with physical limitations.

Within this post, I use the term “physical limitations” as opposed to “disabilities” because my experience has been that many times, people with physical limitations have just as many, if not more intellectual and spiritual capabilities than people who are considered “able bodied.”

There are also people with physical limitations who decide to create a platform to join their artistry and activism together concerning this issue. That being said, there is a man named Mike Ervin in Chicago who has his own blog site and one man show known as The Smart Ass Cripple. Even Roger Ebert said, “I am a fan of Smart Ass Cripple, who is very disabled and also very eloquent and funny.”:

 

http://smartasscripple.blogspot.com/

 

Just like anyone else, Mike Ervin believes that telling our stories empowers people.  The Smart Ass Cripple one man show is both comedy and activism joined together! This event took place at Assisted Living in Chicago a block away from Yoga Now studios. There is an art to comedy, but comedy and activism joined together is even better.

Here is something to note in light of all the rioting and police misconduct taking place: Although Mike Ervin is wheelchair bound, he is proud to let you know that he arrested 12 times in peaceful protests.

The crowd loved him and an interesting conversation was generated about the misunderstandings that people with physical limitations face: They do not want to work, they should just stay at home instead of taking up the best parking spaces in the parking lots at the grocery store, etc. “I am not about to just lie down and die just because someone doesn’t have respect for me as a human being because I’m not like them,” I heard one woman in the audience say, “I want to get out here and enjoy my life just like anybody else.”

And obviously, Mike Ervin shares this sentiment. It is also nice to know he has retained his sense of humor. I aspire to his greatness when I grow up.

 

 

Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn for Chelsea’s Law

A lot of people asked me over the years, “How do art and activism come together?”
Let me explain.
Chelsea King was a San Diego high school student who was murdered by a convicted sex offender named John Albert Gardner in 2010:
http://chelseaslight.org/programs/chelseas-law/

Chelsea’s Light Foundation was established by the family to create laws to protect children. Dream in Color, a yarn manufacturer, created skeins of yarn to make shawls (or whatever you want really). A portion of the proceeds from the yarn sales go to Chelsea’s Light Foundation:
http://www.dreamincoloryarn.com/2013/09/11/chelseas-shawl/

Further, Chelsea King’s brother was 13 years old when his sister was murdered. He created a documentary about his experience stating that creating a documentary was actually better than therapy. I also heard that same sentiment expressed by Mariel Hemingway about her own family challenges and how she became an advocate:

This is how art, albeit making documentaries or textile arts, and activism come together. I buy my Chelsea’s Shawl yarn at Gentler Times Knit Shop in Naperville, Illinois, just a block away from where I meet my writing group. 100% super wash merino is one of the better textures for me to work with. Needless to say, my next bohemian strippy scarf will be made using Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn.

Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 1Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 2