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My son, (Ben Davis, Beats-On-Tap) says I am not a good blogger because I don’t post enough. He’s right. After all, he blogs regularly about music and it is worth checking out! I wait and wait until something really inspires me. Well it hit me tonight as I walked into my studio. My husband and I had just returned from the airport after dropping off our daughter Stephanie to fly to Barcelona, Spain for 3 months. No… not as part of a college program, or any program… After Freshman year at Connecticut College, Steph felt she needed to break out and away from the constraints of art classroom assignments and see what kind of artist she could really become. Somehow she landed upon a website for Estudio-Nomada. She applied and was accepted to the independent art program in Barcelona. She found a family to live with and after private lessons of Krav Maga, self defense class by the best in the State at breakthru fitness.… off she went.
For a moment I felt empty walking back into the art studio without her paint brush in action as it had been all summer. She had just completed a large canvas and her palette papers were still there like their own work of art.
Her glass lamp-working table left with glass all about and an empty gas tank.
…but then I found myself sifting through her work table. I had not touched her side of the studio for weeks as she prepared her journals and inspirations for her 3 month art adventure. I admit I was tempted to throw out some scraps and gain some real estate on the 6 foot table but I never did and tonight I could not break away from the table of art books, cuttings of colorful hand-painted paper, mini cards, poems, fabric journals and paintings. With a list of things to accomplish myself, I just sat and let the colors and textures soak into my senses and let the time slip away.
The last thing we had done together at home was sit across from each other on our yoga mats and say a final Namaste. Finding her work left behind was like another ujjayia breath left from her in the room.
I am tempted to photograph every page of her journals and publish them. Don’t worry Steph…. I kept them closed. But seriously. Her writing is Bob Dylanesque and her paintings a mix of Dali, Kandinsky and Matisse wrapped up in one hippy, vibe, mystical, mother-earth-loving imagination. Is that a genre??
It is hard not to get lost in her passion for her work. Her cat is obviously protecting her territory so I guess I will not be cleaning up tonight!
It’s pretty easy to blog about Stephanie Davis. Afterall, she is my daughter. But watching her paint is truly inspiring to me. She changes from a teenager of 17 to a young woman full of experiences and passions that come to life in her work. Her paintings enable the viewer to escape into an ethereal world; magical and mystical.
Her creations inlcude memories, experiences, life lessons and clandestine objects all deep within the complicated twists and turns of color.
Her paintings relieve stress but her palette is so passionate it also explodes with life.
Today Stephanie is having an especially fun time experimenting with Golden’s mediums; Soft, Light Molding Paste, Coarse Pumice Gel and Clear Tar Gel.
Each medium creating a different sheen and viscosity.
Once inspired, Stephanie works the textures and colors in layers. When I tell her I am loving her work she will reply, “mom, it’s nowhere near done”. Her patience and love for her work is like a seasoned, lifelong artist.
What was once an abstract swirl, later becomes a roaring fire, tree, or hillside from a foreign country she once visited.
You might find a figure holding a yoga pose or a small critter or musical instrument wrapped within the texture.
Photos of Nicaraguan children, classmates or decoupaged, decorated paper hides within as well.
Steph loves Golden’s Open Acrylics which allow her to keep the colors wet and work with them, blending until she is happy with the form.
Amazingly these painting are simply a way for her to express and take a study break. I think we have yet to see where this artist will go with her vibrant and dreamy creations.
This summer I read a book that should be required reading for everyone! Pulitzer prize winning couple Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wu Dunn open our eyes to humanitarian issues around the world. Their stories of how giving turns oppression into opportunity gives me hope for the world. You cannot read this book without wanting to do something and every chapter is chock full of ideas for the reader to make a difference in the lives of oppressed women.
While in Senegal this past February I visited the office of Ashkoka, an organization that supports Social Entrepreneurs enabling many women to receive the resources to help them start a trade. Ashoka is mentioned numerous times in the book as an organization helping paving the way for women in developing countries.
There are also many examples of young people in America who make a difference by raising awareness of atrocities or visiting developing countries gaining a richer understanding of other poverty and struggles in other cultures. I am especially proud of my daughter Stehanie who
after seeing the school conditions in La Estrella, Nicaragua begged us to let her return to the small village this past July to teach English in the school she helped build there.
Stephanie traveled through the hills of Nicaragua back to La Estrella, Arriba to live with her host family again where she taught english and art, mixing paint out of coffee beans and giving the people there a new way to express themselves.
“To tackle an issue effectively, you need to understand it- and it’s impossible to understand an issue by simply reading about it. You need to see it first hand, even live in its midst.”
Nicholas Kristoff, Half the Sky
This quote leads me to highlight another social entrepreneur. Someone I greatly admire. Andrea Gottschall.
After performing in the Vagina Monologues in 2007, Andrea became passionate about fighting FGM (female Genital Mutilation) and went to visit The Sakutiek Rescue House outside of Kenya. The rescue house, the second founded by Agnes Pareyeo, a FGM survivor is located in the Rift Valley, 100 miles west of Nairobi. SRC is a safe haven for girls where they can celebrate an alternative “rite of passage” enabling Massai young women to follow in their tradition without experiencing the cutting. Ninety percent of the women in this part of the world have arranged marriages and routinely undergo genital mutilation.
Andrea returned from her trip and created My Empowered Flower, a jewelry line that raises money for the Rescue House. Through combined efforts in the theatre and jewelry sales Andrea has raised over $70,000 for her cause.
I have tried to teach my children an important lesson. If you see something that bothers you, do something about it, even if it means just telling another person and creating awareness. I hope to encourage everyone to read “Half The Sky”, and I hope when you’re done reading, you don’t just put it down.. but find your own small way to make a difference.
What happens in the studio does not stay in the studio.
Often the art studio turns into an actvity to raise awareness for autism. Inspired by my nephew David who was diagnosed with autism at age 2, my daughter Stephanie paints denim jackets and heart shaped pins to raise awareness and funds for programs and research.
But Steph does not accomplish this alone, younger children from brownie troops, elementary and middle schools come to the art studio to take part in the fun for a cause.
Friends are always the first to pitch in and act as roll models for the younger kids to get involved. Jackets are painted to give to auctions for various Autism organizations.
The pins raise money for David’s Educational Program called FAAP, The Foundation for The Advancement of Autistic Persons ( Eden II Programs) and for FAP, Friend of Autistic People, an organization building a farm on which autistic adults can live and work.
You can visit Steph’s site to see how you might help out at Stephcares.com