In 2019 I met an artist while taking a road trip. We were both sharing a short stay with our spouses at Rose Island Lighthouse in Rhode Island, U.S. Britta lives in Berlin, Germany; I, in Takoma Park, Maryland. We maintained a virtual friendship when we each returned to our countries through social media, especially with our art at the center. In February 2021, after COVID sequestration began to feel so very long, we decided upon a collaboration.
I began with calligraphy, pastel, type & collage from torn book pages. Using a standard paper for mixed media (Canson XL), I played. Reminding myself that I needed to leave her room to work. Restraint and on two pieces simultaneously yet allowing room for creativity were challenges.
Sending it off with no deadline or expectations, it arrived sooner than expected in Berlin. At least there was comfort in knowing the mail systems in our country were working well!
This week, Britta sent back my finished piece. I am thrilled to see what two strangers who are forming a long-distance relationship can accomplish with trust and an understanding of our love of art.
My hope is that others take a leap of faith in their fields to venture into new friendships and creative work whatever your media – visual art, writing, car restoration…..and it goes on. Just take that step and surprise yourselves!
Between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, I kept a journal and recorded notes, quotes, observations, sketches, photos and collaged ephemera on a 3’ x 30’ roll of Canson mixed media, 90lb. weight paper. I’d never been able to stick to a journal for very long; I always ended up misplacing the notebook. But a big roll of paper is hard to lose.
Having worked on small surfaces, the scroll had been rolled and rerolled constantly. I fell into a rhythm of writing the text, using pencils, in vertical columns; I glued in drawings, small watercolors and photos, willy-nilly. This journal was not intended to be exhibited but at the end of fourteen months I found I had a very personal record of an extraordinary year. The work was part of a group show, “Intimate Hand Work” at the Studio Gallery in Washington, DC, which ran for three weeks in March (2021).
You can’t say that!: Writers for young people talk about censorship, free expression, and the stories they have to tell
There is no denying that Leonard S. Marcus is a master of compiling information, stories, and interviews with a wide range of children’s authors, and topics in children’s literature. Yet, again, he continues his enlarging the field with the issue of censorship in YA and KidsLit using his interview format with twelve contemporary and classic authors, some of whom have since died. The “Introduction” while somewhat personal, gives context and history to the evolution of banned books in this country; the emergence of organizations pro and con, including the OIF (Office of Intellectual Freedom). These are an invaluable few pages that summarize a complex history.
The thirteen interviews range from those conducted on the phone, through emails, and in-person throughout recent years. Authors’ viewpoints from LGBT, mixed race, Latina, African-American, White, and with learning disabilities – all young and old.
It is a valuable lens when delving into teaching and presenting the issue of censorship, ethics, and First Amendment rights.
The cool floor underneath my tired feet is welcome after a hard day in the early summer sun fighting with the English ivy. I don’t really mind the fight to be honest; no living thing wants to die. Yet, I am a killer of sorts as I yank at its roots mercilessly.
Now away from the heat upon my face and the hard clay under my knees, I sit in utter stillness despite the smallness of the space. I don’t need much, just some quiet, a cool breeze from the overhead air conditioning, and the shades pulled low.
A sliver of light peeks in. Oh, this intruder! She does not let me go. Even here.
Ah, but anyway here there are scents of sandalwood and lavender. They soothe the tired soul. They remind me of love.
Written for all those souls struggling through this ongoing pandemic. 2021
During the late autumn of 2020 through this late winter of 2021, children’s book clubs emerged in my neighborhood. This came about through passing conversations with my neighbors who have young children at home during COVID, combined with the difficulty in letting go of my former school librarian life. So, I sent out a questionnaire on the listserv to see who might be interested; several responses came in. While these were small book clubs in number, they were not small in scope or fun.
One was geared toward kindergarten and first grade children. We met on our farmhouse, wrap-around porch in all weather (except when it snowed and the kids HAD to experience sledding!). Masked and wrapped up in warm coats, hats and gloves, and one time with an electric blanket, we meet almost every Sunday afternoon to read picture books. Each youngun’, with his or her own book in hand, followed along stopping to ask questions, make comments or just exclaim something that took his or her fancy. Each reading included a snack (sometimes relevant to the book) and an activity. Parents were relaxed and able to see their children interacting with each other and with adults. It was a delightful time during the darkest days of COVID.
Another group of 4th grade students who are being home-schooled during this crisis met through ZOOM. Over the span of several months, the four of us read three works of fiction, tried our hand at vocabulary crosswords, listened to author interviews, and talked. And talked. And talked. Each child offered his and her unique perspectives bringing an energy through the wireless connection that was truly remarkable. Parents were updated after each session via email, and truly gave this time to their children for enjoyment without the pressure of a graded, class assignment. Bright minds early in the morning are something beautiful to behold.
But, with the change in seasons the call of the “wild” comes on the heels of warmer temperatures, as it should. Nothing can replace being in nature to run and play. Nothing. So, we now put aside our neighborhood book clubs for another time – hopefully, post-pandemic.
Yes, spring is coming. Crocus. Daffodils. Barbecues. Dogs running and chasing squirrels. And always, children throwing balls, squirting hoses, or just sitting under a tree reading quietly.
It is my honor to state here that I am invited to be one of six women artists participating in a group art exhibition at Studio Gallery DC at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. All of the women’s work is and was created during COVID. This was extended to me by not only a woman who I consider to be a dear friend, but an artist whose work and work ethic I so admire. Thank you, Beth Curren of Camepleopard Press, for this kindness.
See, A Blue Bunny Studio for more of Tina’s artwork.
Call for an appointment to visit. Wed. – Fri., 1 – 6 pm, Sat., 11 am – 6 pm. Special hours and private consultations by appointment 202-232-8734 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s a silly thing to think that the felis catus is a tactile doorway to love. Running my hand over her back as she prances back and forth with tail held high soothes my self-loathing, despair, and even simple crankiness. Oh, I am well aware that she does not love ME; she loves what I provide - her comfort. Plain and simple. But, this is my comfort, too for I am so much like her. Self-centered. I look for a soft place to sit, a warm hand to stroke my back, a plate filled with juicy morsels. I look to be left alone, to only do what I choose to do, to shake my own tail at annoyances, and walk away from others when they bore me. Yes, I am Narcissus and felis catus is my reflection. And, I love her.
Exquisite Images from a book by – Otani, Shin. The Cats of Venice. Chronicle Books, 1998. Print. Given to me by my sisters as a birthday gift in 1998. Who know it would take me until 2019 it finally see Venice…and their cats?
Inspiration – my weekly writers group at Project Write Now.