Altered Books (Gift From The Sea & Wollitzer's Abstract Art)

Here are some images of the altered books I have been working on.  I am practicing up for teaching a workshop in February/March for Teens and Adults. I began with a book I treasure, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's GIFT FROM THE SEA.  I had a portion of this book read (by my gifted public speaker sister, Lisa Frazeur) at my 1991 wedding to hubby, Don Fick. Here you see the altered cover - I have bleached and sanded a sepia toned photograph I took of our daughter, Lauren, when she was 3 - she is wearing an antique family heirloom of a muslin slip/petticoat and a floppy white sun hat . . . I caught her in a moment of discovery as she let sand sprinkle through her open fingers at Crystal Beach, FL. Here is an opening page from the altered book - I have added my husband's and my initials from antique oak-tag and doodled on and around them, then inserted our wedding date.  One of the main goals in altered books is to collaborate with what is already there - by eliminating words, you enhance the ones that are left . . . by altering and joining any illustrations with your own theme/artwork - you make them become your own, without stepping on any 'copyright' issues.   Here I have altered an image of a shell.  By adding a glint to the eye (using watercolor pencils) and creating an eye (using gray tone prismacolor markers) I transformed the literal image into a surreal visual. Other aspects of altered books include: use of old photographs, collage from illustrations, distressing with inks and paints, aging with an emery board or sandpaper, gluing, tearing, sewing . . .      These following images are from a drawing book "Abstract Art" by Bernard Gollwitzer from the 50's - his illustrations are on the right hand side, on the left page I painted out the printed images with gesso, then cut out a female dress template from card stock, painted with acrylic then wiped off with a paper towel, using an embroidery needle/thread I stitched around the pattern, glued on a button with YES glue and voila, a finished page!         Altering books for me has become a very meditative event - I get to reminisce, create, journal, paste and glue, sew, a little bit of all all favorite things - and I get to use text and visual imagery together - I can be as sentimental as I want to be. Hope you can pick up a discarded book and transform it with some of these techniques - even if you only are a few pages at a time . . . you will enjoy the process as much as the resulting artwork!
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To Resolution, or Not To resolution?

  "The Call" by Remedios Varo To me the real question about whether or not to make New Year's Resolutions is simple:  No.  I don't do that. What I do is review the prior year and project what I wish to accomplish in the coming year. Many divergent areas of my life are considered.  Have I been the Mother I need to be in 2008 and what can I do better in 2009?  Not just say "I will be a better Mother" - but, specifically, what are the actions I can do to make that occur.  I can turn off the music in the car and actually have a conversation with the children while we are enduring the endless pick-up/drop-off phase of our lives.  I can instigate conversations and ask what their opinions are and why.  I can NOT turn every conversation into a lecture.  I can listen.  I can color more with my 6 year old.  In my marriage I could make dinner a few more times a week and I can turn off my computer and sit and hold his hand while he watches TV.  I can play some Wii golf WITH him instead of reading on the couch.  I could go work in the yard with him instead of holing up in the studio on the weekend.  We could start doing some of the things we both love to do: hiking, nature photography, playing cards, and Scrabble. As a sister I could call my siblings more frequently.  As a daughter I could take some time to mail my mom cards and hand-written notes as she does not do e-mail.  I can collect things I know she will love and always have a gift bag ready for any time I see her.   If 2009 is this cabinet - I get to fill it with all the dreams I have and hope to accomplish: 1.  Better actions as a mother and wife 2.  More completed artworks/applying for grants/fellowships and to VISIT real art again - a major trip for art viewing 3.  More shows to share my artwork 4.  I could finish posting my Etsy shop so people don't have to beg me to sell things. 5.  Start my series about my Italian experiences 6.  Get more active on my own blog ;) - pursue my writing with a more defined goal, write some of those memoir stories for myself and then decide if I want to share with others 7.  Nurture and maintain my new and old friendships 8.  Take time to reflect on my own life and the balance of my selfs: physical, spiritual, creative, and dreaming 9.  Become more fully who I am intended to be 10. Make sure I am following MY CALLING
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Zippy is Better Than Santa!

The following is correspondence between my 6 year-old daughter, Claire, and Zippy (a/k/a author, Haven Kimmel) www.havenkimmel.com : On December 10, 2008 at 6:42 pm Sher Said: from Claire Fick, Sher’s 6 year-old: Dear Zippy - I really like your stories. One of my favorite is when you were little and when you and your Dad thrEw your bottle in the fire, and when you get your hair and blue slippers. My favorite line, which I can say with you is “THEY’RE MY ACTUAL FEET!!!” I like looking at the pictures in your books Zippy and Couch which my mom showed me. I like the picture of your friend, Julie. I like your dogs when you were little, I have one kitten, Snappy. she has a little stump for a tail, because she was born that way, we hope. She naps a lot. We have only 3 pets, 2 are hermit crabs, Ocean and Paco. Snappy has a wet nose. I listen to your stories every night, instead of my lullaby CD.
  • On December 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm Sher Said: Claire forgot to say: “One time when we moved in this new house, Ocean escaped from her playground box, we found her hours later between two boxes. She almost got dry enough to die. I’m glad my Mommy found her. Do you celebrate Christmas? I have my very own Christmas tree I decorated all by myself. Thank You, Love, clairefick   On December 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm HavenSaid: Dear Claire Fick, I happen to know that it is very good luck to have a cat without a tail. As you will remember, I had my own removed and it was the Gypsies who taught me a lot of secrets. I still wear slippers almost all the time, but now they look like cowboy boots. If you would like a pair and will e-mail me your address and the size of your foot, or BOTH FEET IF YOU HAVE TWO, I’ll send you some and we can be slipper twins. I am thinking that you like to have your nails polished, maybe pink or something with sparkles. I highly recommend painting your toenails, too, so they don’t feel left out. Also? Ask Santa for any kind of chapstick or lip balm that tastes like candy. My favorite is Hershey’s chocolate, but really any flavor is good. If I were a Claire Fick, here’s what I would do: not watch very much television. I would pretend in my head a lot and even write some pretends down or record them in a tape recorder. I would always be kind to animals and my mom and dad, and I would WISH CONSTANTLY someone would bring me some cookies. I would play outside and run and JUMP as HIGH AS I COULD. I would always be exactly myself and try not to lie and try not to hurt any feelings, but if someone tried to make me be a different sort of Claire Fick? Some feelings might just get hurt, whoops. I liked your letters very much, and I love the pictures I’ve seen of you, and I love your mom. It seems as if you got really LUCKY, and also you are smart. Never, ever be afraid to be smart. Your Friend, Zippy After tortuous waiting, the package FINALLY arrived . . .  with this message from Zippy: DEAR CLAIRE, THESE SLIPPERS ARE EXACTLY LIKE MINE.  THEY ARE OUR ACTUAL FEET!  LOVE, ZIPPY
      Claire instantly JUMPED as high as she could and then went into modeling mode:     Go buy "A Girl Named Zippy" for everyone in your life - - give it in honor of Haven's mother, Delonda, whom fondly revealed in Zippy and "She Got Up Off The Couch" - both memoirs from Mooreland, IN . . the midwestern stories are universal for bravery, love, and joy. To Haven, our deepest thanks. For Art's Sake, Sher & Claire (your slipper twin!)
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    Book Thief - You Know Who You Are!

    This story is real, it happened to me, or I happened to it, this is how important my 'books' are to me:

    One time I was traveling 800 miles with 2 toddlers (mine) and I strategically stopped at a fast food restaurant (Burger King) where they had a playground for the monkeys (the toddlers) to wiggle on

    . . . and brought in a book I was dying to keep reading (The Perfect Storm) . . . so first we take a potty break (diapers, pull-ups . . . hands . . .) you know that routine and I accidentally, not-on-purpose left the book somewhere in there (the ladies' room). . .  

    ____flash forward 5 minutes______

    I am standing in line waiting to order when it hits me - my freaking book is missing!!! I holler, drag the babies back in the women’s room as two fat ladies exit . . . no book . . .I get behind them in line and I hear them whispering

    . . . I am telling the kids, somebody stole my book! So I ask the fat ladies,

    "Did you see anybody take a book in the ladies’ room"?

    "Oh no, no" they say as they look nervously at each other.

    I look over and fatty number two has a suspiciously rectangular solid form in the area where her belly should be!

    #*%&&

    So I look right at her, point at her tummy (my book) and say -

    "IS THAT MY BOOK, IT IS CALLED 'THE PERFECT STORM'?”

    She looks away, gets her food from the counter . . . and walks away.

    I loudly discuss with my children that thieves will have judgment from God or Karma in their lives and that they will never be happy because they are carrying such black guilt for what they have done . . .

    I see the fatty with the rectangular object (my book) hidden on her belly go into the ladies’ room . . . then they leave.

    I run in there and

    ******what do you think was in the wastebasket?****

    - my freaking book!!!!

    I was so excited! I finished that book, which was great AND I made that fat idiot feel like crap enough that she gave something back (even if she couldn't face me to do it)!!!!

    Note: I have been fat, some of my family is fat, so don’t make any “oh, you said FAT” comments. They were FAT/overweight/chunky/obese and that is a description.

    They did not, however, have bunheads (which is related to a future posting).

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    Abide With Me

      We are not alone.  We exist in a beautiful community of souls.  This post is dedicated to Haven Kimmel and to her beautiful community of souls which have enriched my life since I stumbled (it was fate) upon them in August.  [  www.havenkimmel.com , click blog]. The above work (entitled CATCH ME IF I FALL) is a perfect visualization of my experience in Havenland.  [begun with this bizarre altar niche I found in a thrift store in Fort Walton Beach, FL, it costed me only $6.00, which is a perfect example of where I get my main inspirations (junking or dumpster diving).  The doll face was cast from my original Krissy doll (the one that you pulled on the string and her red hair went shortor long).  One of my more prominent motifs are the wide-spreading oak trees (as it dominated the 'house yard' of my grandfather's Veedersburg, IN farm) and the handmade wooden rope swing that I spent many hours dreaming on as I strove to walk the sky].  Although this work can be disturbing as you notice the barbed wire which entwines the rope, and you realize that to stay balanced you would have to grip that barbed wire (what is supposed to keep you safe might BITE you), to me it is all about the hands that reach up under the swing to . . . catch me if I fall. As a child, due to many mitigating circumstances, most out of my or my 'guardian's' control, I rarely felt safe or that I had a soft place to fall.  Now that I am grown I am allowing myself to rely and trust in and on others . . . these are souls that have become guardians of my creativity and celebrants of my soul. I hope you can see the resilience of this peace and celebrate with me, the beauty I have found not only in Haven's blogland, but in the world that seems to shine brighter with hope.   Barbed  Guardian, 2006.  (Porcelain Doll Head, Rusted Wires, Encaustic, Gold-leaf) As the child's eyes reveal in Catch Me, we, as adults, are reflections of our childhood experiences.  I want to celebrate those that have been able to nurture 'little sher', she will always be a part of me. In Barbed Guardian, a friend of a friend heard about my search for rusted barbed wire/other objects and she shipped me objects from her farm in Sevierville, TN.  That is love.  To the left is WINGED GUARDIAN.  She is a perfect example of my friend's and family's support of my work.  My sister, Lisa, collected the remnants of a cardinal on a nature walk and carefully saved the skull (with its carmine beak) and the wings . . . this forethought and support is what, I believe, imbues the pieces with the ethereal essence I constantly seek to capture.   Lastly in the guardian trio is DOMED Guardian, she is veiled and unknowable.  She is the hidden spark of resilience I believe we can all find in our own souls if we protect it and treasure what is sacred and pure in our hearts.  She IS BROKEN, yes - but she remains. 'find a sanctuary inside oneself, no matter how small' - Lemony Snickets, A Series of Unfortunate Events
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    The Best Birthday Present a Holly Hobbie Fanatic Could Ever Receive!

      So, if you have followed my obsessions at all you will know that I am LITERALLY OBSESSED with vintage Holly Hobbie items from the 70's. When my sister, Lisa, said she had gotten me the PERFECT birthday present and that she wanted to give it to me in person, I have to admit I was excited. We saw each other in October (2 months BEFORE my birthday), but we exchanged presents anyway. I was just flabbergasted and speechless (which does NOT happen often) - it literally was THE PERFECT PRESENT for me. She found these lovely Holly Hobbie and Heather dolls - and they are very reminiscent of Lisa and I, she had dark hair and I had an unfortunate shade of light brown as a tiny child.  I believe it was frequently referred to as "dirty dishwater".   So this shout out is for LISA!  Thanks, this meant the world to me! We are now on a joint mission to find this type of a rope bed for the girls, make Grannie nightgowns and mop-caps for them (with the gowns embroidered with "Lisa Ann" and "Sissy Kay") and to make a blue striped ticking mattress for the bed.   Here we are on our way to the Dixie Chicks concert in December of 2006 - neither of us knows what our real hair colors are now - we suspect some black and pepper gray with some faded gray brown. Your sis, Sissy Kay (k/n/a Sher) Query:  1 - Have you already received your "perfect" present?  If so, what was it?  or  If not, what would it be??
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    7 Before 7 Feature Artist - Sher Fick & Writing/Marking Workshop = ART

    I was so lucky to be invited as a Feature Artist in Jules Sterp's 7 Before 7 Blog Review http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1461#comment-61390 It was quite an honor and the page turned out beautifully - thanks so much!  MY ART WEEK: This has been a busy "art" week with last Friday's opening at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN for their Regional Exhibition, plus electrician in the studio working on the new lighting and expanded outlets (encaustic work uses A LOT of electricity), and to cap off the week, I attended a great workshop with my art buddy, Aletha Carr (www.alethacarr.com) at the Nashville Public Library.  It was co-taught by Ellen Rust (a poet/educator www.awakeningthewriter.com ) and visual artist Sue Mulcahy (whose work/series "Open To The Night" is now on exhibit at the library gallery).  We began with responsive mark making using graphite.  We learned to express, through marks, the sound of music and the smell of ginger, lemon, banana.  It was enlightening to view the similarities of another artist's expression of the same sense.  At left is my exercise, directions were: beginning with graphite mark, create a lifeline without lifting the graphite from the surface.  I began in the lower right hand corner, dragging and twisting the graphite to create "blooms" which represent my children and other major relationships, as I near the end at the upper left, my line becomes stronger and more focused - a direct correlation to my life. Following a lovely lunch from the Provence Cafe, we began the writing responses, writing free-style about objects provided (roots/pine cone/antler, of which we chose one) and a word ticket drawn from an envelope (I used root and the word "good"). Here is my response to the visual image of the ROOT and my word ticket/GOOD: Roots can be good. Roots can be bad. Fed from the well where I am found. Layers upon layers, filtered through time. Good for cleansing or poisoning the vine. Good for growth - spreading wide, Infiltration, rooted in time. Knotted and twisted, grasping for air - held in the hands of earth's mellow fair. Tangled and battered, growing and spreading - tripping me up, trials above. Roots condescend and fed with bile, cutting them out can take quite a while. Pulling and digging, Cutting, then mending, Roots can be good, but mine are offending. Offending the nurture needed and expected, tainting the cord of mother to child. Uprooting the past to discard in time. Toxic.  Burning.  Poisonous vine. Uprooted now, seeking new earth, re-birthed and replanted - unrooted divine Free now to spread, to grow and to grasp. Now unencumbered of poisonous past. Growing inward and outward, Good has been summoned, sweetness of new water erasing the past. Antidote found. Time will allow, roots will hold onto good things that last. Roots will refine, no longer confine. After several responses we adjourned to the gallery and wrote responses to various of Sue Mulcahy's Exhibit http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080921/ENTERTAINMENT0507/809210326/1069/ENTERTAINMENT05 and then shared with one another. Here is my response to Sue Mulcahy's "Close Is Not Enough" drawing: Internal scapes Chasms divide Peering at memories Revealing and reveling Veering forward Pulled from the past Grasping transcendence Clasping remnants. Traversing Dissolving Signposts and markers misleading, benign. Sequence chaotic Silhouetted and open deluge divine Unbalanced, then broken Sutured and knifed Evoking wholeness bound by time. I attempted another response to "Open To The Night": Veiled in the darkness Formless and thick. Coating the earth Clinging and clawing. Queries are spoken Descending and dim Near far remembrance echo and utterance Filtering bright sky meets earth horizon enlighten breaking the dearth the spirits soaring and sighing Upward and outward absorbing moments cradling time unseen, unspoken protected from site needless emotions bound and unbroken +++++++++++++++++++++++++ It was an amazing day shared by all.
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    Scarecrow Installation - Vincent Van "Cr"ogh's "S(c)a(r)y Night"

    Here are a few views of the scarecrow I created for Cheekwood Art and Garden's Fall Celebration (www.cheekwood.org): Van "Crogh's" face was created over a hard floral Styrofoam ball, covered with crazy quilted burlap and then embroidered.  His "hair" was attached via a rug hooking technique.   I just love creating art that will amuse and entertainment the children, as well as their parents and other family members. If anyone is in the Nashville area, stop by Cheekwood and enjoy its beautiful 50 acre botanical garden, award winning restaurant, and, of course, the art museum! Fall is my favorite time of year - I was so happy to be a part of such a creative event.  I can't wait to see all the other scarecrows!!! For Art's Sake, sher
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    What My Kindergarten Report Card Says About Me

    "My Kindergarten Progress" (7"h x 5"w, encaustic on board with attachments) reveals so much to me as I view the years through the veil of time. Many things still ring true, that I do indeed still "LOVE TO TAKE PART IN ART ACTIVITIES."  But what is so poignant to me is the fact the teacher felt the need to state other things, as well: "The difficult spelling of Sher's last name has made it difficult for her to learn" - obviously I was scarred for life, barred from the learning I so desperately sought. Creating "My Last Name Was Creekbaum" (5"h x 8"w, encaustic on board) was just as cathartic as I reviewed my assessment.  I rejoice that my mother so lovingly stored this and many pieces of my childhood art.  Because of her forethought, I re-discovered and was reintroduced to myself as a child.  Somethings never change:  Unbeknownst at the time I was dyslexic and STILL "Need Improvement" in that area of knowing "my right from left". Although time goes by, I can still see myself in that little brown- toothed girl (I had two crescent shaped "milk" teeth for my two front teeth) and recognize her spirit in my kindergarten progress report . . . and again in this image from 1st grade. Though much heartache has happened since I was an innocent kindergartener, there is still a sense of unbounded joy to be had in life. Celebrate the child you once were and try to relive the innocence and beauty of discovering a new butterfly in a color you've never seen before and in wading in creeks (that were really just sewers) and making mud pies.  Live your life like an innocent child:  one day, one moment, one breathe at a time. Protect the innocence of the children your life - encourage their curiosity, celebrate their efforts, dry their tears.  But most of all, speak with them about life and what it means and how important they are to the world. "you, too, are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars . . . "  excerpt from the Desiderata of Happiness, by Max Ehrmann
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    Even When We Feel Static, Progress Is Occurring

    Even though I feel many days that "I got NOTHING done" - I can look back on the last 7 days and know that progress is being made. Artistically:  I was juried into another regional exhibition for contemporary art - this exhibition will be at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN - a jewel of an art center, literally, in the middle of nowhere - but they have fantastic exhibitions and programs.  This is their 10th Annual Regional Exhibition covering all of the Southeastern States. I will be exhibiting SANCTUARY, 36" x 36" x 36", Mixed Media Installation.  Materials: vintage crinoline/lace/wire/bird's nest/robin's egg/kozo paper/ink/encaustic. The viewer will bend over from the waist to look down into the assemblage, which will be installed on the floor. After creating this piece I saw  A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS and I was enamored of the ending where he mentions that the Boudelaire's "found a sanctuary, no matter how small" everywhere they lived.  As a woman/human, I feel I have to maintain an inner sanctuary where I can go - it is where I hatch my plans and nurture my soul.  The second piece that will be exhibited is "MYTH OF INNOCENCE", an altered rubber doll.  9" x 4" x 3" . . . it refers to some personal icons (safety pins) and the idea of our outer shell (here a girl in her "Sunday best" underclothes and shoes) and our inner strength and resilience (the built-in altar). Materials: Found 1950's rubber doll, vintage lace, acrylic paint, liquid lead, acid, gold-leaf, safety pins (represent the "christian" school dress codes which required safety pins in all slits of skirts and between gaping buttons, and to hold down wrap-around skirts, etc.) I would love to hear back from you, my wonderful viewers/readers, what these art pieces say to you, I learn the most from feedback and can never really be offended as I know all comments are useful to my future pieces. So, what do you think?  Do you see any universe symbols that I didn't even realize I used? Personally: The studio is coming along and I only have about 3 more van loads of supplies that my wonderful hubby, Donny, is promising to get out of storage this weekend.  Isn't he gorgeous???? We celebrated our 17th anniversary this weekend, not counting the 1.5 years of living in sin before . . . Here he is on the boat between Murano and Burano, Italy.  Our first day there after about 20 hours of planes, trains & boats . . . Anyway, I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for his belief in me and his support through the college years, the paxil years, the pregnancies (9 mos. x 3 of puking and hospitals and bed rest), births, breastfeeding, and he is always the primary caregiver once he is home . . . he is a catch!  And, no, you can't have him - I am his, he is mine. We don't believe in any of that - you complete me, Jerry McGuire BS - we are each independent beings with our own interests - he plays tennis, basketball, and Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii, and he is a very gifted nature photographer . . . I paint, antique, read, blog, photograph, knit, crochet, bake . . . and we let each other have our own fun and then get together for major fun - together we like to hike, kayak, make up CSI homicide scenes (then photograph them), no kidding, play Wii, scout out waterfalls . . .watch the birds . . . it is a simple life (except for the 3 busy kids!) Work:  so now I am working on 15 ink illustrations for an art history book: Faking Ancient America by Dr. Nancy Kelker and Dr. Karen Bruhn . . . I also created the cover art of some "fake" Pre-Columbian masks.  I am also working on finishing the Vincent Van "Cr"ogh Scarecrow for Cheekwood Museum. I'm busy, but happy.  Spending lots of time on Haven' Kimmel's blog www.havenkimmel.com and then remember I might want to actually post on my own! Here are some updates on the kids: Claire, turning 6 in 2 weeks, is enjoying 1st grade and making many new friends.  She is wild about the new tire swing we hung up in the 300 year-old huckleberry tree we are lucky enough to have in our backyard. Here she is being the main nurturer for SNAPPY, our new, tail-less kitten.  Snappy is named after Lauren's favorite Monday night restaurant, Snappy Tomato, the pizza buffet. Other names we considered: Waldo, Pompeii, Ash . . . Snappy won out.  But Claire and I usually call her "OOpsey!" Dylan, the soon to be 16 year old is  busy taking driver's ed (god save me), ROTC, Drill, Forensics and Latin Club - he is busy!  He continues to astound me with his philosophical insight, intelligence, and purity of heart.  We are blessed to have a gifted mentor for him at his school, Ms. Z, who is always there for him as he navigates his way through an athletic crazed school, below his level teachers and classes and generally helps push him from behind while I coax from the front - two more years and he will be off to college - we have so little time to prepare him for the big world. Dylan also has this great taste in music: Beatles, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel, Rolling Stones . . . it goes on and on - and he is an actor and even sang 2 solos in the MusicMan this summer at the Algonquin in Manasquan, NJ - I can't wait to see what he decides to do for his life's work . . . we are so proud and admiring. Lauren, 14, has started babysitting and otherwise spends her time on-line, on her cellphone or chattering incessantly to me after school, and to us after dinner, and until we tell her to go to bed . . . she has been doing egg experiments: you soak an egg in white vinegar for 24 hours and the shell dissolves (she can tell you why), then you just have the membrane sack, the whites and the yolk, which you can see, and pick up and it is like jello (don't squeeze)....then you soak it in food coloring water over night and turns that color, but translucent - it is so awesome, she says you can throw it at something and it will splatter everywhere - it is gorgeous and I want to photograph a bunch of them.  Lauren is so gorgeous and beautiful and I am frozen in fear for her in this big bad world. so, we are busy - the kitten knocked over the hermit crab tank, the moles are taking over the yard, I have 52 mosquito bites . . . but all is well in our little corner of the world. sher
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    Shaky Ground

    written Aug 31, 2008, during insomniatic wakening

    There are layers.

    My truth is only one view through a convoluted, rippled memory.

    As a child, my experiences and observations came with no contextual identifiers.  Even reactions were downplayed and re-assigned in acquiescence to an elder's (church's) desires.

    In what format does a child live?  One person's most tragic day could be another's fantasy castle.

    Pastelsplitself_2 The fact of some tragedy (ies) does not rob a child of their memorial joy, but it does cast a long shadow on their psychological future.

    Sensory triggers are psychoneuroimmunilogical and those re-wired synapses cannot be re-instated to their seminal semantics.

    This time of personal archetype development can overrun the soul.  Souls become lost in the netherworld of loss.

    While surrounded by birds chirping in the clear blue sky, this, my tattered soul, is grasping at slippery roots to regain a sense of solid footing.

    Shall it come to pass?

    In my life, moments glimmer with mica-glittered foundation stones, until a new tremor comes along - it is hard to stand on such shaky ground.

    What are my "seismic" pre-tremor shocks?

    - thick, twisty "devil" eyebrows

    - greasy, slicked-back, receding hair

    - fishhooks

    - knobs turning under a porch awning

    - jelly

    - banana seat bikes

    - flyswatters (especially if shaped like a butterfly)

    - keys or money being jangled in a pocket

    - creaky swings

    - fish eggs pouring from a fresh fish

    - black, glossy tarmac from the glare of the sun

    - dirty fingernails

    - vans with no back seats

    - trailers

    - pencils

    - having my head pushed down

    - "Good Girl"

    - religion

    - blankets too light to feel "safe"

    - the urge to pee at night and the danger of going to the nearest bathroom

    Raggedy_digital Images:

    Image 1 - above - "Split Self", pastel on paper, 32"h x 24"w, 2006.

    Image 2 - immediate left - "Your Story Begins At Home", Found Object/Altered Doll Sculpture, Self Portrait, 42" h x 16"w x 17"d, 2006.

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    Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part III)

    By representing oneself and one's creative outlet, it can be learned to respect others and their forms of expression.  Abuses against others, including animals and children, would be eradicated in general.  In addition, by each individual's ability to self-nurture and self-respect, instances of physical ailments and emotional neuroses will also diminish. These physical and emotional ailments can be directly related to repression and denials which can be expressed and embraced through practicing the arts.  Science has proved through the study of psycho-neuroimmunology that the mind and body are unequivocally connected.  Thosed emotional concerns, which are not dealt with and settled in the spirit, will adversely effect the physical health of the individual.  Conversely, if one is taught ways in which to EXpress them as opposed to REpress, we know that physical health and wellbing will be established and maintained.  Your body is an instrument that sends messages to your mind, illnesses are to be considered wake-up signs and warning signals of underlying emotional concerns. Friedrich Nietzche reminds us that "[t]he role or purpose of art is to enhance life . . . to increase . . . the concentration and force of the vital spirit" (Barzun 123).  By nurturing our creative consciousness, more meaningful and long-lasting solutions will be found for the world's ills.  "Through the arts we learn to see our environment more clearly; to sense its color, song, and dance; and to preserve its life and quality (Panel 3-4).  Our "pursuit of happiness" needs to include our relationships with others and the world in which we live.  The world does not revolve around any human individual; indeed, we evolve within our world. Through the integration of arts in our everyday lives, the world can be changed to one in which full human potential may be achieved.  A world in which every species has an equal opportunity to reach and fulfill their intrinsic purpose of being.  The arts are one form in which humans may be utilized as healers and teachers of the universe. Copyright 1999 by Sher Fick, all rights reserved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WORKS CITED AND REFERENCED Ackerman, Diane.  "Why We Need to Play", Parade, Daily News 25 April 1999:12-13. Barzun, Jacques.  The Use and Abuse of Art, (The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1973), Princeton University Press, 1974. Carbonetti, Jeanne.  The Tao of Watercolor, A Revolutionary Approach to the Practice of Painting, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, NY, 1998. Frida Kahlo.  Dir(s) E. Herson, R. Guerra and W. Von Bonin, RM Arts, 1983. Gaines, Susan.  "The Art of Living", Better Homes and Gardens, March 1999: 58-62. The Getty Center for Education in the Arts.  Arts for Life, videocassette copyright 1990, J. Paul Getty Trust. Mellencamp, John and Green, George M.  Your Life is Now, Compact Disc "John Mellencamp", Little B. Publishing/EMI April Music Incl, 1998. Offner, Rose.  Journal to the Soul, The Art of Sacred Journal Keeping, Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996. Otto Dix: The Painter is the Eyes of the World.  Dir. Reiner E. Moritz.  Poorhouse Productions, 1989. Panel, The Arts, Education and Americans.  Coming to Our Senses, The Significance of the Arts for American Eduction, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977. Williamson, Marianne.  A Return to Love, Reflections on The Principles of A Course in Miracles, Haper Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1994. http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . 4/19/1999.  Website of VH1 Registered.
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    Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part II)

    continued from Part I . . .

    More importantly than the skills which are applied in our business worlds are the values gained through an exposure to the arts.  Values can be practiced where it really counts for something - in our communities and family relations.  Tolerance of racial and ethnic traditions is required to move our communities forward in cultural and socio-economic settings.  Peace can only be achieved through communication, and the arts are a universal form of communication.  Isadora Duncan has stated: "If I could tell you what I mean, there would be no point in dancing".  The language of the arts can bridge any cultural schism.  Marianne Williamson reminds us in A Return to Love that to communicate is to love and to attack is to separate (160).

    Otto Dix, a visual artist who lived through both World Wars, refers to the creative energy as a form of "exorcise"; and Frida Kahlo, another visual artist who lived with physical torments from an accident, stated that painting "purged her memory" and helped her deal with chronic pain and physical anguish.  Eco-psychologists consider art to be an integral form of therapy, one in which our communion with nature may be fully expressed and that our psyches require this communion with nature to effect emotional and spiritual balance for atonement (being at one with nature) in our lives.

    Through open mindedness and an ability to express oneself, a generation schooled in the arts will be capable of reaching the peace and cultural acceptance unknown on our planet since "civilization" began.  Only through seeking creative solutions to our differences can we avoid the apparently automatic urge to "bear arms" (emphasis mine).  When an individual is unable to express their confusion and disillusionment with their world in a non-violent manner, we view their expression through violence.  As is apparently the case in the recent phenomenon of adolescent males using firepower to demand recognition and retribution in our schools.  This irrepressible need for attention was obviously not fulfilled in their younger days, they were not taught or given examples of acceptable expression, therefore they need to act out against their supposed or imagined oppressors.  World wars have always begun because of intolerance of others; we are currently suffering the consequences of our own condoning attitude towards intolerance.  One cannot hide these attitudes from family and communities.  Intolerance needs to be recognized for what it is - a sickness of the heart and soul and treated as such.  When words are not heeded, actions will follow.

    Once an individual has learned for themselves "non-judgment and patience" (Carbonetti 102) through arts, these same values can be enacted in their families and communities and, eventually, universally.  By learning to express oneself through art so that one might live authentically; and by expressing one's own realizations and manifesting (i.e., making evident or plainly show something) those beliefs, an individual will be capable of sharing with the world the greatest gift.  A human who understands and has experienced their own beliefs can authentically express himself or herself.

    Ackerman refers to art as a form of "deep play", wherein an individual may reach balance of mind and spirit.  Having "peace with one's self and the world" is a necessary element of living the human experience in a fulfilling manner.  To choose an outlet for one's emotions, whether it be through writing, drama, visual arts, dance or any other form of expression is to lose yourself in the merging of the creative moment.  By doing so an alternate reality is reached, troubles may be left behind, and an individual becomes the conqueror, creator, invincible; literally - "an ideal version of oneself".

    Therefore, children must be given the means with which to express themselves.  Children must view peaceful and meaningful examples of communication.  Our perceptions are comprised of more than the written word; therefore, our training should include other forms of communication.  We express our emotions through body language, visual aids, cadence, and eye contact, and many more forms.  However, rarely do you ever see a curriculum that lists "non-verbal communication" other than sign language for the deaf.  A class need not be so literal, but the attitude needs to be in the learning institution that art is vital to the overall emotional and intellectual development of a child and has an inherent worth in and of itself (emphasis mine).  Art is an essential part of being human and in expressing ourselves as individuals within a larger society.  Only through expression can similarities be identified and those similarities can be the building blocks of a new understanding between cultures.  Art historians have been the major contributors of theological study in ancient cultural beliefs, daily regimes, and historical significance.  It is through their arts that we can visualize ancient Rome, Pompeii, and Egypt.    Understanding of diverse cultures may be reinterpreted into any form of dance, theater, philosophy, poetry,  . . . the list is endless.  Through shared expression a new relationship is born between the cultures and the grand collaboration of peace can begin.

    . . . to be continued in Part III along with Works Cited references.

    copyright 1999 - Sher Fick, all rights reserved

     

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    Why, In Our Current Culture, Bother Making Art?

    Throughout human existence, individuals have spoken through their arts. 

    By studying a culture’s uncovered arts, we discover clues to their spiritual beliefs, daily lives, traditions, and human relationships - to name just a few benefits.

     

    Therefore, artists in today’s world can bring forth these same revelations.  An artist has a chance to make social commentary (to me the most important), statements on spirituality, celebrate life, question the unanswerable, and reconcile their struggles. 

     

    By communicating visually, the artist traverses the cultural/lingual divide.

    No one needs to know your race, religion, or gender in order to view and interpret your art.

    Ideally, art can be the great connector.  I believe expressing yourself also sends energies into the Universe – thus communicating with all forms of life.

     

    It is of vital importance to express yourself in some creative manner (all liberal arts are inclusive in expression) in order to avoid repression and illnesses of mind and body.

     

     

     

    Written August 2000 for Advanced Sculptural Form, University of West Florida, Professor John P. Donovan’s class.

     

     

     

    Post Script - "Note on SOLE MATES, above":

     

     

     

    Assignment was for a found object/recycling project: 

     

    I utilized junk from the trash pile at my favorite antique/junk store in Niceville, FL - the legs and an old cabinet door was part of my loot.  I wanted to reassign the purpose of objects as well, thus changing a door into a table, etc.  While working on this project my favorite pair of boots literally fell apart while I was working in the studio.  It was a pair of "parachute" boots I had purchased while engaged in 1990 (so they were 10 years old by this time).  I was so mad, they had molded to my feet and were like working in bare feet, but safe!  I was ticked and was dropping them in the trash can (something I would NEVER do since) when I glimpsed some ART? on the sole of the boot . . . I quickly retrieved them and found this amazing rubber stamp design on the sole - in fact it was THE SOLE of the boots!  A gorgeous global map with "leave footprints of peace" or something like that . . .

     

     

     

    I had been leaving those footprints for 10 years, completely unaware of my effect on my environment.  It was what we consciously and unconsciously do in our daily lives that effect the world around us. 

     

     

     

    I now try to be aware and choose the footprints I leave behind.  I still re-cycle/pre-cycle my garbage, as any view of my studio can attest . . . you NEVER know when you can use/re-use something.

     

     

     

    For Art's Sake,

    sher

     

     

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    Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part I)

    Written April 27, 1999 for Philosophy/Ethics Class, with Dr. Dirk Dunbar, University of West Florida.

    If we want our world to be still, gray and silent, then we should keep the arts out of school, shut down the neighborhood theatre, and barricade the museum doors.  When we let the arts into the arena of learning, we run the risk that color and motion and music will enter our lives.

    -David Rockefeller, Jr.

    By examining the benefits of integrating the liberal arts (theater, music, philosophy, dance, and visual arts) into our educational system, we see that humans can learn to effectively change the course of our culture and environment.  Through directly integrating the liberal arts into our educational curriculum, the enhancement of all individuals will be achieved.  Currently the "arts" are viewed as "extra-curricular" activities, which are not considered essential to a child's emotional or intellectual development.  Required subjects are the "three R's - reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic".  Only if additional funds, volunteers, and resources are available do the children receive the benefit of exposure to the arts.  Yet, "the arts, properly taught, are basic to individual development, since they, more than any other subject, awaken the senses - the learning pores" (Panel 6).

    Humans require means through which to express themselves, separate from the written word.  If an individual is unsuccessful in expressing themselves through the visual, theatrical or musical fields, we know that frustrations build up from repression and anxiety - these stresses lead to physical and emotional illnesses.  Art can be a catalyst for filtering and expressing our life experiences, positive and negative, so that one might better handle the future, and not be buried in the past or in negative experiences.  Through exposing children to the act of collaborating with others on art projects (writing plays, painting murals, building large sculptures) they will learn how to work with others.  By working out divergent opinions and ideas, by problem-solving, and by creating their own joint successes - confidence in themselves and other humans can be experienced.  World leaders of today could utilize these same collaborative skills in effecting world peace.  In learning to respect differing beliefs, yet by focusing on commonalities, human potential can be achieved.

    Unfortunately, to date, most conventional educators have not accepted the integral necessity of incorporating the arts into the everyday experiences of our lives, "nor as a legitimate part of education" (Panel 6).  By separating the importance of arts from education, the educational community is sending a clear message that art is not necessary for success and wellbeing.  Clearly, the opposite is true:  "Segregation of art from education is unnatural . . . art is indivisible from life and education" (Panel 6).  By providing our children with artistic experiences from their earliest learning experiences we will offer unique ways of viewing the world.  Art teaches diversity, patience, and problem solving; while at the same time motivates the individuals by creating successful experiences which will encourage deeper and further learning challenges.  Direct benefits are currently being revealed:  music study leads to higher mathematical comprehension; dance positively influences physical wellness; visual arts expand problem solving and communication skills; and philosophy teaches tolerance and flexible thinking.  "Art is power . . . it influences the mind, the nerves, the feelings, the soul . . . " (Panel 7, 16; Gaines 58-72, Barzun 21).  As an example, VH1's "Save The Music" program is trying to insure that all children will be able to "expand their brain cells" by being exposed to musical education in public elementary schools (http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . April 1999).

     

    Once the arts are encouraged and the natural creativity of a child is nurtured, or in essence midwifed/birthed" (emphasis mine), these skills will be carried throughout their lives.  In the professional world, artistic skills are highly coveted.  The ability of an individual to think "outside the lines" (emphasis mine) is beneficial in the technological fields where capabilities are challenged in this constantly evolving field.  Being able to think originally is what sets apart individuals and businesses into the successes of a generation.  For instance, the world would be less enjoyable without the creative thinking of Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, or Rosa Parks, to name a few.

    (to be continued, Part II & III, with Works Cited provided on last installment)

     

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    Hiatus Ended

    It is unbelievable that I have pulled an ostrich for the last few months. OVERWHELMED would be the only word to describe my state-of-mind. Fabulous things have happened since I last posted . . . 1.   We FINALLY, after 10 months, sold the house 2.    We bought our dream house with an 1,100 sq. ft walk-out basement studio for me. 3.    I am now trying to balance decorating and furnishing the house, pulling a rabbit out of the hat to set-up the studio, settling the kids in school and after-school activities . . . 4.  Maintaining a busy exhibition and commission schedule. Anyway, I'm back.  Ready to conquer the world.  I've been doing tons of reading, researching, sketching, dreaming, sharing, and am ready for several new series of work as a result of this low energy ebb - as is all things, my life is cyclical and I feel on the output upswing! Here is the empty (pre-purchase view of the studio) i.e., my "blank canvas" - still figuring out how to set it up, run some electricity, etc. So I am back in the saddle and will be posting with more regularity . . . For Art's Sake,
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    Made it into the SEJE 2008 Biennial

    At left, KERPLUNK, has made it into the SOUTHEASTERN JURIED EXHIBITION 2008, A Biennial Competition for Artists in a Twelve-State Region, which is held at the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, AL  www.mobilemuseumofart.com. I'm really excited about this exhibition as it is highly competitive, it has a great contemporary curator and provides a fabulous catalogue - I'd have to say that my hard work is really starting to pay off and that I am beginning to feel the fruits of my labor. I'm also getting revved up for working in the studio again - really interested in creating some of the installations that I have been imagining over the last 4 months of production on Rapunzel - the new works will be delicate and evoke the same type of childhood innocence that was coming forth in the Childhood Game series . . . will keep you posted! This Biennial will be exhibited from July 11 - Sept 14, 2008.  The opening is the afternoon of July 13th (Sunday) - which I don't get to attend because it is the same weekend as my niece's wedding.  If you are planning on going, let me know and maybe we can meet there another weekend! For Art's Sake, sher
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    Happily Ever After - Rapunzel's Tower Unveiled

    Installation on Rapunzel's Tower went great!  In fact, I was finished 2 days early! Here I am with artist Denise Johnson (me on the left, Denise on the right) at the Designer Party given May 21st. Cheekwood knows how to put on a spread - the Brie with honey, brown sugar and grapes reminded me of Italy! Wednesday was the first day we got to see our fellow artists' designs installed. This year's selections were fun-filled and I especially enjoyed Kristina Arnold's "Three Billy Goats Gruff" installation.  Another favorite had to be the "Three Little Pigs" by Andee Rudloff - especially seeing Andee trying out her own slide!   From the time we arrived on Saturday morning Rapunzel's Tower was swarmed . . . Here are the first visitors descending the hill . . . I really had to catch my breathe - but it really couldn't have gone better - the smiles on the parents' faces at times out-shined their childrens' - literally, the best compliment possible. We knew when we saw parents spreading out blankets and camping out around the Tower that we had a hit on our hands! Since I finished early I decided to add just a few additional elements: a birdhouse based on the model I presented to the Curator back in January, a balance beam (built by my husband, Don), and a mailbox. They were all a great hit and gave ample opportunity for the children waiting to climb the rock walls or get their turns in the sandboxes, to have some fun, too: This blond darling is using the ringing bell as a microphone or megaphone - I think she thought she was talking to Rapunzel!   And here you can see some of my family getting in the "balancing act": at front, my niece, Grace Victoria (6) followed by my daughter Claire (5) and niece Morgan (10). One of the best surprises of the day was the special notes left by admirers and potential "Prince Charmings" to Rapunzel - how adorable is that?!  The above image is thanks to fellow artist and friend, Aletha Carr. The day was a blur and I now understand what my teenagers mean by saying "I'm skyin' ."  That is exactly how I felt. Here's to all the people that made my day so fabulous: my sisters Lisa and Susan for bringing their families (from Indiana and South Carolina) to share my joy, my mother (from Illinois)for her proud smile, my brother-in-law Steven (from Kentucky) for bringing his great wife, Shawn, and their daughter Taylor JUST FOR THE MORNING - I'm so glad we all got to enjoy luncheon on the deck at Cheekwood's Pineapple Room - it was a true delight! Additional thanks to: artist Denise Johnson for the Enchantress panel, to Selena Long for the Queen/King panels, to Aletha Carr for helping install and photography (not to mention our lovely art days), to hubby Don for putting up with me and helping whenever and however he could, to my kids for not abandoning me, to Leigh Anne Lomax for her great help as Cheekwood Garden Director . . . the list goes on and on . . . I feel that I have climbed the golden stair, thanks for your assistance and needed "boosts". My side of the family . . .
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    TAKE CARE: The Art, Science and Bioethics of Motherhood

    The TAKE CARE Exhibition has found a home on the web:

    www.n-cap.org/take_care.html

    Please view the exhibition essay by Veronica Kavass, New York Based Writer-Curator, in the Exhibition Brochure.  You may also view the included artists and their websites:

    Annette Gates - Kristina Arnold - Adrienne Outlaw - Sher Fick - Lindsay Obermeyer - Monica Bock - Sadie Rubin - Jeanette May - Libby Rowe

    Many thanks to Adrienne Outlaw for organizing the critical essay, brochure and website!!!

    I'm really looking forward to exhibiting with such a fine group of strong female artists.

     

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    Rapunzel Installation Finished!

      Rapunzel is finally ensconced in her tower - finished the installation yesterday, May 19th. Whew - I'm exhausted.  Thanks for help from Don (hubby), Denise Johnson, Selena Long, and Aletha Carr. It was great to finally see all the components merged together for the first time - I had never been able to have all three levels together in the studio. Looking forward to seeing it "in action" with the children on Saturday and also seeing the previews of the other installations Wednesday night at the Designer's Party. A friend reminded me this week that after I moved to Nashville in 2003 we had visited Cheekwood and that I was so enamored of the Museums and the Gardens and mentioned at that time that I would love to exhibit there . . . wow!  It really confirms that "Reality is a Dream Enacted." I added the birdhouse, sandtoys, and the mailbox after the fact and my husband built in a balance beam nearby . . . just a few more things to see and do spread out around the footprint of Rapunzel's Tower. Cheers! For Art's Sake, sher
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