"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

moses and starfish

His name is Moses. He’s adorable, sweet and loving. The first CTT heart he stole belonged to Team 3 member Kaley. That was back in 2009.

Kaley noticed that Moses couldn’t hear very well. She taught him how to sign the alphabet. They hung close whenever the team was at the orphanage. When we left Uganda, Moses gave Kaley some rubber bands so that she would not forget him. He had been wearing them on his wrist and wanted her to do the same when she went back to the US.

We’ve learned a lot about Moses since that trip. All of our hearts have been stolen by him now.

Team 4 member Avis began the process of teaching him sign language this past December. He was like a sponge. He soaked it up. He memorized the books she brought with her, then wanted more.

Moses has some very devoted buddies, each of whom looks out for him and makes sure he is able to make his way through the day in spite of his rapidly progressing hearing loss. Antwain and Francis have got his back. It would warm your heart to watch the boys together. It certainly cooked mine.

Recently CTT Liaison Melissa took Moses into Kampala for a complete hearing exam. Probably his first ever. He didn’t fare so well. The audiologist reported that Moses borders between significantly and profoundly deaf.

Meanwhile, a woman from Amsterdam stepped into the picture. Her name is Monique, and she is planning to go to the orphanage as a CTT volunteer this summer. She read about Moses on my blog and emailed me immediately. Turns out she has a friend who runs a hearing aid shop. His name is Gerben, and he wants to donate a set of hearing aids to Moses. Seems that when a customer dies, the hearing aids he/she wore make their way back to the shop. He just happened to have such a pair that would be perfect for Moses.

After a bunch of emails between Gerben, Monique, Melissa and me, it is now official:

Moses will get the chance to hear. The Oticon hearing aids are now on their way from Amsterdam to Uganda.

Remember the story about the starfish on the beach? The one about a man walking along the beach and noticing 
a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean?

Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?" The boy replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. 
The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die." “Son,” the man said. "Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? 
You can’t possibly make a difference!" After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish 
and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, ”
I made a difference for that one.”

Yes we did.

Monday, May 30, 2011

blaise meya

Blaise is six years old, our youngest doll artist. He is a kindergarten student at Academie Lafayette in Kansas City.

Blaise likes to draw, play with his older brother, and tell stories about his (imaginary) friend Chevy whom he met before he was born. The two of them traveled through outer space together in a place called "Bubble City" (don't get him started on these tall tales). Other than that he enjoys digging in the sandbox and other things most 6-year-old boys enjoy.

His doll is a vampire. He made every bit of it all by himself. His mom, Amy, also a Doll Project artist, sent me these pictures of Blaise working on the piece.

molly emanuel mcglynn

Molly is 1/4 French, 1/4 South African, 1/4 Irish, 1/4 German. She loves to create, sing and do charity work. She wrote this about the inspiration for her doll:

"My banana doll is based on the 'orphan trains'. I chose this because of the orphans in Uganda. Over a period of about 75 years roughly 100,000 abandoned and mistreated orphans off the streets of New York City were put on trains that were going west to try to find new homes. To keep out of danger the kids formed gangs. Police were known to arrest kids that were only 5 years old and sometimes a little younger. A man by the name of Charles Loring Grace was the person who invented the orphan train with the intention of giving them nice homes, but more often than not the farmers thought them to be no more than just cheap labor. Lets make sure that doesn’t happen to the orphans in Uganda and keep helping them!"

Molly is a really cool kid. I met her through her mom, Nicole, who is also part of this year's Doll Project. Molly just had her birthday party. She told me she invited four good girlfriends. Each girl was asked to come prepared to tell all about a different country. She had to dress like someone from that country, bring a food from that country and be able to talk about various customs and traditions. I think that would be a pretty amazing party to attend! Guess which country Molly chose?? Yep. Uganda.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

lou marak

Painter, illustrator and cartoonist Lou Marak attended the University of Oklahoma. After a stint in the army, he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he graduated in 1958. Lou went on to work at Hallmark and eventually as a freelance artist. His work can be found in many collections, including the Mulvane Art Museum, Hallmark, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mushnic Art Museum. One-man shows have included exhibitions at the Jayne Gallery, Hallar Gallary and Late Show Gallery in Kansas City.

This is Lou’s second year participating in the Doll Project. He again enjoyed looking through his collection of found natural objects to locate suitable items for decorating the doll.

**If you look closely you’ll see that the doll’s nose is, for example, an eagle’s talon!

ritchie kaye

Born and raised in Kansas City, Ritchie Kaye attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She majored in Painting and Printmaking, with a minor in Sculpture. She has done graduate work in Richmond and Hampton, Virginia, and Florence, Italy. She currently lives in Fairway, Kansas. Ritchie has shown her work - and is collected - both locally and nationally.

Ritchie wrote this to accompany her doll:

"She dances.
Dances to the rhythms of time.
She dances to the spirit that is the rhythm of life,
Dancing with the elements of life.
She dances for all, and forever
With joy, with heart, with the one."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

jane pronko

Jane was born in East St. Louis, Illinois and has lived in the Kansas City area since graduating from the University of Kansas. She has exhibited work in many group and solo shows in the Kansas City Area. She is represented by Modern Arts Midwest in Lincoln & Omaha NE and the Sande Webster Gallery in Philadelphia. Her last exhibit was with the Leopold Gallery in Kansas City in 2010.

Her work is represented in a number of public, corporate and private collections in the US and Europe. She is best known for her paintings of urban landscapes of Kansas City and New York.

Jane wrote about the process of decorating her doll. I think her account and the completed doll itself are both absolutely delightful.

"I got home with my banana leaf doll, looked at her, and thought about what she might need to be made ready for a night of fun with the other dolls. I had seen these others, and knew that in the good hands of artists, these dolls would also be changed in wonderful ways and dressed for the big event.

I’m not given to throwing away anything I think is interesting, so in my basement there are lots of scraps of cloth, beads and other strange things acquired and collected through the years. In this amalgam of stuff there had to be things I could use in her transformation. She needed features for her face, eyes to look out on the world and certainly a mouth to smile with. I covered her head with a tan piece of felt and sewed it down. A very tiny nose was sculpted from the same piece of felt. I embroidered on the blue eyes and red mouth I thought she would like. I tried to use a piece of an old blond Halloween wig for her hair, but it was too matted, wild, and ugly for Cassandra, my name for her. In a bag of my Aunt Sue’s knitting yarn I found some soft brown wool that looked like hair and could be piled high on her head. She began to take shape as I made her a bosom of foam and buttons, covered with a bra made of lace.

Now, what should she wear to the party? I found a scrap of blue silk from a larger piece, used to make a dress when my daughter was a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding. As I sewed Cassandra’s dress together, I thought of her playing dress up as I had so many years ago with my mother and aunt’s discarded clothes. I strung a necklace of crystal beads and made a hat of real pheasant feathers from what had once been a man’s hat headband. The final touch was a mink stole made from two small animal tails I had purchased at an estate sale. Cassandra was now dressed up and ready to meet some new and interesting friends.

She needed to stand on her own. As a temporary measure I put her feet into an old blue mason jar. After an early plan for a support that wasn’t adequate, I had decided to use the wire and wooden block provided. But, when the time came, I couldn’t bring myself to impale her on the sharp wire. Earlier, I had had trouble sticking pins into her body to hold up the dress until I could sew it on. She had become too real to me to risk causing her pain. In the end I left her, with her feet in the blue glass jar. I felt she could always escape, which would be risky, but along with the risk was the possibility of enjoying some kind of freedom. Maybe, she would be gently lifted out, touched, and admired. She might like that. "

Friday, May 27, 2011

robert quackenbush/reilly hoffman

The title of this year’s doll by Robert and Reilly is “The Guardian". These two creative souls have once again brought to life something very light and ethereal despite the weight of the copper and steel used in the construction. This is a beautiful piece. As soon as the guys selected the unadorned doll, they were zooming her around in the air. I think they knew right away they wanted to make her fly.I was very moved when Robert and Reilly sent along the following description and poem to accompany the piece. "The Guardian watches over the children and staff at St. Mary Kevin’s. She serves as a shepherd and protector for all who work and reside there. She sees to their safety and well-being and serves as a source of perpetual hope and inspiration. Guardian Angel I will sing a lullaby When sleep will not come I will hold your hand Through good times and bad I will brush away your tears When emotions begin to flood For I am your Guardian Angel. I will watch over your soul Should it ever go astray I will always hold your heart Even after judgement day I will comfort your sadness And keep your pain at bay For I am your Guardian Angel I will always be there No matter when you call I will be the one Who helps you through it all I am the one sent by God To always watch over you For I am your Guardian Angel I am your Guardian Angel. -Tonya Michael Copyright 2001 All rights reserved"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

two brushes with fame in one week

My daughter loves to say, “Mom, you’re famous!” whenever I win an award or get an image published or have a solo exhibition. It’s kind of a reoccurring family gag. Eddie presented me with a very legal looking certificate a few years ago that proclaimed me famous, and my son chimes in on occasion about the (elusive) fame issue, as well.

I guess I probably started the whole thing when, in my forties, I declared at dinner one night that I was going to be famous by fifty.


At any rate, as I have continued to plod along as a photographer (who, like so many others, does try to achieve a certain amount of recognition for my work) I have (fortunately) discovered that being in the moment of making the work and being filled up by the joy of making that work is really what it is all about.

I mean really, who needs fame? It’s totally overrated.

Why, then, did my heart start racing when two times this week fame was on the other end of the line when I answered my phone?

Let me explain.

Over the course of the past four years, various people have tried to let Oprah know about Change the Truth and its founder (me). Once her assistant and right hand woman, Libby, even made a personal contribution and said she’d pass our info along to the producers of the show. Lots of things kept happening that kept putting CTT back in front of Libby, and finally, well, she just picked up the phone and called me! Libby sort of speaks for Oprah, I guess.

I remained very calm and casual on my end of the line, congratulating her on the season finale and wishing her luck on her next chapter of Life With Oprah and asking about the weather in Chicago. We schmoozed for a few minutes. Then she got down to business and told me that I couldn’t be on the show because they already had all the final guests lined up and the show was ending anyway. She told me that they couldn’t give any money because all of O’s private funds were committed to her school in Africa. But, she did say that she was going to pass along all the information about CTT (which had been squeezed into an oversized manila envelope and handed directly to O by the cousin of one of CTT’s supporters) to the OWN network and to O magazine.

Famous by sixty? (Doesn’t have the same ring, but maybe I’ll take it.)

The next call was from the New York Times. I have been trying to get my foot in the door there as a freelance photographer. I’d been told they liked my work, but I’d have to wait until something big happened in my part of the country before they’d ever need to use me.

Something pretty big happened the other day. A rather large tornado.

A few calls back and forth. Maybe going to the area on assignment? Finally not… too far away. They’d send someone else. During the last conversation with the New York Times photography editor, I was hunkered down in an office building bathroom stall with four women I did not know as tornado sirens wailed outside. I told him this, and he said to call him back immediately if anything happens, and I would get the assignment. (I started taking pictures in the bathroom with my cell phone just in case.)

Luckily, Kansas City was spared a tornado.

And luckily, I received a contract from the NYT this morning. Once I sign it, I’ll be official and will be ready to go should there be something to cover in my part of the world.

Thanks, O and NYT for making me feel like a famous photographer this week.

Truthfully, though, as I get older and wiser, I realize how petty and silly that quest is.

Oh, wait. Gotta run. The phone’s ringing!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

johnny naugahyde

Johnny Naugahyde has had one-person exhibitions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, the University of Central Missouri, the Writer's Place and the Dolphin Gallery. Johnny's work is in the permanent collection of the Boulevard Brewery, CitiBank, the Pony Express Museum and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, as well as numerous private collections. This summer he will be having a two-person exhibition at the Racine Arts Council in Racine, Wisconsin. He is currently represented by the Dolphin Gallery in Kansas City and Pierogi in Brooklyn.

** That's an old organ pipe that the doll is leaning against. It makes a nice, low sound if you blow into it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The scene around much of the Joplin, Missouri area is one of destruction and devastation. Mother nature has been unkind to a number of areas throughout the Midwest but on Sunday, May 22nd she was ruthless.

A severe storm came through the area and dropped a large tornado that tore a 6-mile path across southwestern Missouri, to date killing 116 people and injuring 400. This twister was the single deadliest tornado to strike the U.S. since a June 1953 tornado in Flint, Mich., that storm also killed 116, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather forecast for today does not look promising. More storms, high winds, hail and possibly even more tornados are predicted for the area.

A state of emergency has been declared and the National Guard has been activated to assist with the clean up efforts.

How You Can Help Joplin

If you would like to help the victims of the Joplin tornado there are a number of different ways to do it.


The Joplin Red Cross could use donations. You can contact them at (417) 624-4411 in order to find out what is necessary.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)

A list of major non-profits that operate regularly in Missouri can be found on the National Donations Management Network website. You can also call (800) 427-4626 for further information.

The Missouri Interfaith Disaster Response Organization is taking donations for longterm recovery efforts.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is in need of blood — particularly type O. You can donate at your local blood center.


211 Missouri is helping organize volunteers in the affected areas. More information can be found by calling (800) 427-462.

Nurses or doctors looking to help can call (417) 832-9500 for the Greater Ozarks chapter of the Red Cross.

Monday, May 23, 2011

suzanne garr

We were lucky that Suzanne was part of Team 4, and we are even luckier that she has chosen to return to Uganda this December as a member of Team 5! The children will be so happy to see her again. Suzanne was a warm, nurturing, loving presence; the children were constantly by her side so they could soak up as much of that good energy as possible. Rarely did I ever see Suzanne walking around the orphanage without two small hands locked in hers.

After the KC artists completed their dolls, and I started posting them here on the blog last month, Suzanne decided she wanted to decorate her own two dolls which she had made under he tutelage of Rosette (doll maker extraordinaire). She has entitled the finished piece "The Sisters."

Here is her story:

"As a part of Team 4, Gloria had charged me with working with Rosette to make banana dolls for the fundraiser. I was slightly intimidated to say the least. I was following in the footsteps of Eddie Feinstein. With oodles of patience, Rosette taught me the art of banana doll making. My first attempt was a ‘tall, skinny’ doll, which had Rosette breaking out in pure laughter. I quickly learned that I needed to ‘fatten’ up my dolls.

Rosette and Suzanne

As each day rolled into the next we made more and more dolls and Rosette and I became closer, like sisters. There was a moment one evening, Christmas Eve that I was not feeling well so I sat down while waiting for our ride back to the hotel. Rosette came over and put her arm around me for comfort. She quietly sat there with me and waited. We did not speak a word. She simply held my hand. The irony was, I was there to be with her and the other kids… to comfort, to hold a hand, to listen and she was the one that was there for me. She was my new sister and it all happened in just a few, short days. We had this unspoken bond between us.

As the dolls were beginning to be posted on Gloria’s blog, I was in awe of them and their artistic interpretations. They took me back to the days spent making them with Rosette. I thought I would love to donate & create a doll in honor of Rosette.

My doll turned into two dolls, as I wanted to channel that feeling I had with Rosette into the essence of that unspoken bond we now share. Rosette is the big sister because she taught me, the little sister, how to make the dolls, much like ‘big sisters teach little sisters.’ Rosette is adorned in bright colors, as that is her: vibrant, full of life and a beautiful young woman. I wanted the sisters to have some similarity, but also personalities of their own. I also wanted to include every detail from their necklaces to the head wraps that matched one of the fabrics in their skirts. They each share a charm between them that simply says, ‘sisters.’"

Friday, May 20, 2011

archie scott gobber

"Archie Scott Gobber has been earmarked as a clever, if at times sardonic, painter of words. He is known for slyly deconstructing social catchphrases and articulating the result with the facility of a consummate sign painter. Sometimes political, sometimes personal, his text paintings are always bereft of punctuation, void of imagery, and never intended for a single interpretation. Gobber revels in the idiosyncrasies, failures, and ruptures inherent to written communication. The mutable essence of words, their ability to flex with context, is at the very heart of his work."

The above was written by reviewer Alaska Noyes for Kansas City's art publication, Review, on the occasion of Scott's recent exhibition at Dolphin Gallery.

I'm a huge fan of Scott and his work. He agreed to take a doll last year and felt really stretched when working on it. He made a gorgeous piece, and he must have felt OK about it because he said "yes" to me again this year. This time around, his doll is truly a reflection of the type of work Scott is known for. The simple word CHANGE is painted directly onto the banana fiber, and it extends up and over the doll's head. The red wood of the base is rich and luscious.

When I first laid eyes on this finished doll, I got goose bumps.

Scott is a Kansas City treasure. He is unassuming and even self deprecating when it comes to what he does, but he happens to also be one of the most talented and best recognized artists in the region. He has again made a beautiful piece, and once again he told me he is very moved to be involved in this project. I believe him; he's a man of his word.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

birthday gift

These are the kind of letters that really brighten my day and give me hope about the next generation of kids. I thought I'd share, so you could feel hopeful, too.

The letter came from a fantastic professional photographer I know in Seattle. After I read it, I asked him to send me a picture of his daughter, and wow, is it wonderful!

"Hi Gloria,

My daughter Claire turned 9 last week, and as we were walking to school she started talking about donating food to kids in Africa. She wanted to send some canned tomatoes and stuff from the cupboard.

I told her that that was not very efficient approach because it was expensive to ship the food, and then the farmers there would lose money from not selling their crops.

So she decided to send her money instead. She got $60 for her birthday and wanted to donate it, and I told her about you and your good work in Uganda. I showed her your website and she is pleased.

I can send you a check if you like or just donate on the website with a credit card. Which would work best for you?

Best wishes,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

mike lyon

Mike earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. He is nothing short of a Renaissance man; he is an experimenter, artist, scientist, engineer, art collector, inventor, entrepreneur, musician, athlete (he holds a fourth degree black belt in Shotokan Karate), and a sensei (teaching karate at his downtown “dojo” for martial arts).

His work is included in many collections, including the Miriana Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Springfield Art Museum and the Art Museum at the University of Kentucky.

I am honored that he was part of the Doll Project last year and that he is onboard again this year. Here is what Mike has to say about his doll:

"My doll appeared at my door in her thoroughly modern zip-lock baggie. She was female from the start, though I haven't a clue how I knew that. She seemed too small to me, the head and body very tightly bundled leaves, as if she could be unwrapped to reveal mummified remains (of WHAT, I wonder?) within.

I've been liking gold leaf of late and had a packet of very fine 23k gold leaf in my box. I tinted her black with sumi, gilded the lower body from the 'belt' down, but was disappointed with the effect. So I began pulling the leaves apart into strips and eventually she seemed to be wearing something like a hula skirt with surprising gold strips on the outside... The inside was way too light in value, though so I mixed up a quart pail of dilute black ink and dipped the lower half in several times until it seemed dark enough. I was sorta thinking 'King Tut' when I ran out to Target and bought a cheap off-brand Barbie-like doll for 'parts'. I cut her plastic face off, gold leafed it, stretched it out. and glued it to the head -- like the death mask on a mummy's sarcophagus. I gold leafed the plastic doll's legs and hands, too, and cut them off with a razor blade and glued them into the doll as well (LOVE hot melt!!!)... Her necklace, before gilding, had been the plastic doll's glittery transparent tiara... I considered attaching fairy wings to her (I gilded some large butterfly wings in preparation), but decided she really needed to rest in a sarcophagus and not fly around.

I made her a box from Spanish Cedar (cigar box wood). I debated whether to 'break' her arms so they'd be at her sides or belly. Ultimately I decided to allow her arms to penetrate the sides of the box. Maybe provoke some curiosity about what's inside?

I have a fast and easy way of making a neat box of any size -- I cut all six sides to size with 45 degree angles, lay them out flat with the outsides up and tape them with masking tape so the sharp edges touch. Then I glue the edges and fold the box together. The tape keeps the joints tight and relatively glue-free -- more tape to complete the closure and get the ends on... when I'm done, the tape peels off and I've made a neat rectangular solid with tight joints -- then I cut the lid off and... Voila!

Before I cut the lid off this box, I decided it needed some legs. I thought about getting a couple of more plastic dolls and chopping off the legs and gluing them onto the box -- that might have been a little TOO demented (and expensive)! I looked around my shop and found a 'perfect' 16 by 3/4 by 3/4 inch scrap of cocobolo (a super-hard and dense Central American wood -- so dense it doesn't float and has a beautiful and very pronounced grain). I stuck it into my lathe and began turning the legs starting at the end away from the drive -- the only tool I used was a very sharp skew chisel to sorta plane the legs to typical spindle-turned shapes -- by starting at the free end, I could carve ALL the legs, end to end, without fear of breaking the very delicate thin areas -- when I was done, the legs were shiny smooth (no sanding or finish needed) and I just cut them apart and glued them to the box with 5 minute epoxy -- 10 minutes later I used my table saw to trim them to standard length so the box would sit flat -- then I cut off the lid... It seemed too plain -- the doll looked a bit sad inside the unfinished box, so I painted the inside deep blue. The doll was lost in the blue, so I painted the inside red -- I liked the texture of the blue showing through the red and more or less kept that in the lid... Then I wanted a shadow of the doll's figure (like a Sudarium) inside the box and I cut a stencil out of copier paper, laid it in the lid and stippled the blue outline of the doll -- I did the same to the bottom of the box, but didn't like it and painted it back out with red again -- the figure showed through a bit... I added the gold leaf to the lid -- the dots etc. Then I thought of the white ink pens my sons Scott and Andy had given me for Xmas. I sat for half an hour and drew inside the box, then on the lid and I thought I was done... But the box needed something... So I gilded the outside of the box with 'straps' to butch it up a bit...

In the end, I was torn between staining the exterior of the box very dark (to contrast with the 'straps' or leaving the unfinished wood showing... Maybe I screwed up when I decided to leave the wood 'natural' -- a darker box might have made the gold leaf really pop -- but... In a few years, the cedar will darken quite a lot, and turn a rich deep orange. Then I expect there will be just the 'right' amount of contrast between the wood and the gold...

She's not very huggable, but I think she's elegant and mysterious (and tons of 23k gold)!!!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

isaac vandepopuliere

Stacie Pottinger is a photographer I’ve been mentoring for a couple of years. She regularly makes the trek from Columbia, Missouri to Kansas City to show and discuss her photographs with me. I featured her work on the blog not so long ago. I invited Stacie’s cool son Isaac to participate in the Doll Project because he has been interested in and supportive of the children at the orphanage ever since he first heard about them.

Stacie wrote the following about Isaac:

“By the time the CTT friend/fund raiser occurs, Isaac will have completed 1st grade at Grant Elementary in Columbia, MO. His favorite subject in school is Art and he also enjoys Math. Isaac's favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is ‘be outside in nature.’ Whether that's going fishing, collecting sticks, walking the many creeks in Columbia, camping with his family or simply running around in the back yard or enjoying his tree house; Isaac is definitely in his element when he's outside.

When asked if he'd like to participate in the Doll Project this year he didn't skip a beat and replied with a resounding, ‘YES!’ The kids from St. Mary Kevin hold a special place in his heart ever since he watched the video about them last year and, with his older brother, Joseph, headed up a baseball/stocking cap drive at his school. They've already pooled their allowance to purchase stocking caps for next year's trip.”

**The legs of Isaac's doll are made from bottle caps. This is a pretty cool kid-to-kid connection that Isaac probably didn't even know about. The children at SMK use bottle caps they find on the ground for all sorts of games, including checkers. They also use them as wheels when they construct cars out of found wire and metal.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

the graduate

Surely it wasn’t four years ago that I wrote about how hard it was to let my baby fly from the nest.

Yet this past Friday, on a gloriously sunny southern California morning, he flew even further. Max graduated from college.

I got goose bumps when the grads filed by. All those hopeful, beautiful faces, beaming with pride - their mortarboards tilted just so, their robes and tassels waving in the warm breeze. Delighted friends and family members snapped pictures, the marching band played, and I was surprised when a few tears welled up in my eyes.

Little Jeffrey (he changed his name to Max at age five) became a young man just when I seemed to turn around for a minute.

He gave us a run for our money; he’d be the first to admit that. We had our moments. But don’t all the amazing and spectacular moments stand out at times like this? And don't those tricky curves we navigated along the way make these moments that much sweeter?

I could list those amazing and spectacular memories here, but I think I’ll keep them tucked away to myself just now.

There is one I’d like to share, though, and it happened as recently as Friday night.

Our little family had gathered at the hotel. We talked about his future plans. Max never looked or sounded more confident, optimistic and pleased. As he spoke and gestured, I caught a glimpse of his independent spirit - a young man excited and eager to go off into the world on his own to see what he may find, to see what he might do.

And just as I was willing to let him go once more, a wonderful thing happened.

He reached over and took Eddie and me in his arms. Through his tears, he thanked us for all the opportunities we have given him. His handsome face rested against my cheek, and for just a few seconds, he was my little boy again. The stubble on his chin brought me back to the present, but my own tears had already begun to fall.

How proud I felt, both of what he was as a young boy and what he has become as a young man.

How grateful I am that he is still willing to let us see him at his most tender.

Our children are special gifts.

Go well, Max.

And, by the way... thank you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

more artwork by the children

Here are a few more pieces that will be included in the exhibition/auction on June 24th. Gorgeous creations by a talented bunch of young artists: Oscar, Ivan, Brian, Margaret and Nicky.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

ari fish

Ari Fish is a 2006 graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute. Her art has been shown world wide in such various mediums as ceramic installation, painting, fashion design, writing, film, costume design, drawing, television and music. Often her work contains themes of prayer, ceremony, universality, post-apocalypse and ergonomic-consciousness. Artistic collaborations with Ari include Whoop Dee Doo, Carnal Torpor, The Ssion, Chicks on Speed, Peaches, The Gossip and Urban Noise Camp. In 2008 she finished filming for Season Six of Project Runway as a contestant.

Ari has written for Vice Magazine, is currently developing articles for ReadyMade Magazine online and works as a freelance writer on topics such as pop culture and fashion. In 2010, she received the prestigious Charlotte Street Visual Artist Award, along with a $10,000 grant and a show at GrandArts Kansas City alongside the two other award recipients. Fish continues to work on designs for her clothing company, "Made in America by Ari Fish", while putting more focus on public art installation.

Ari wrote this about her doll, which is 14" tall and is entitled "The Higher Priestess":

"This doll is a sacred object and a lot of times, when sacred objects cross into the art realm they don't get touched as much, thus losing their power I believe. When I was recreating this doll, I was really concentrating on what felt nice to touch, what was warm and inviting and also what posed a threat of intrigue, hence her slightly turned head. She is the granter of wishes, a direct line to the maker of the doll, the earth as well, and the creative spirit that lead me to re-appropriate her very essence here in the United States. When sacred objects are born into this world, the makers are in direct line, direct thread, with the ultimate creator. This doll was made from the energies of the original seed that planted the plant, the Earth, the maker of the doll, Gloria Feinstein for putting into action this cross communication, and myself. I hope her light spirit will fill your spirit with love, hope, and focus."

[Ari's photo was taken by Kevin Schowengerdt.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

susan white

A smart, versatile and extremely talented artist, Susan is a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. She has pursued graduate studies at Rhode Island School. Her work is held in numerous private and corporate collections, the latter of which include Sprint, Hallmark and H&R Block.

About this project... in her own words:

"There is something reminiscent of playing with dolls involved in the making of this piece. I was constantly placing the banana leaf doll in front of the thorn house, on the side of the house, next to the house, playing around with size and scale, standing back and looking, and looking again; playing around with ways in which different forms fit together, burning a hole in the thorn, securing it and moving on to the next.

The main thing I think about when making this work, is that I can’t think of anything else. It is an absorbing, meditative process that pushes all other thoughts from my mind. I draw a parallel with the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. I suspect that they find a similar quiet absorption in making the banana leaf dolls. The focus on the form, on the twisting of the leaf, no doubt consumes them for the period of time that they are creating their dolls.

The thought that kept wandering through my mind as the work was nearing completion was the sense of slowness in life. How it takes a long, quiet time to make change, to cause an effect to happen.

It reminds me of the kind of slow craft inherent in working with the children at St. Mary Kevin. There are many ways for a child to grow, but with careful consideration, time, love and attention, lots of trial and error, and a healthy dose of play, these young children are growing into strong adults who will find their place in the world."

Monday, May 09, 2011

first mother's day

I got to be with Abbie on her first Mother's Day as a mother. She's a fantastic mom, and Henry (who just turned eight months) is one lucky little guy.

Hope all you mothers had a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Thursday, May 05, 2011

janet watkins

Janet feels very fortunate to be surrounded by budding artists each day at The Pembroke Hill School where she has taught elementary art for ten years. The contagious energy, creative problem solving and amazing ideas generated from these students inspires her to stay open minded and on her toes.

Janet earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and fine arts from Vanderbilt University and her master of arts in art therapy from The George Washington University. She spends most of her free time with her three children, two dogs and one (and only) husband.

**Her colorful, elegant doll is entitled "Rainbow of Love" and stands 17" tall.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

tom johnson

Because of the Doll Project, I have had the pleasure of meeting several local artists for the first time. Tom Johnson is one of them.

Presently an architect in private practice, Tom was initially an art major before completing his Masters in Architecture at the University of Kansas. Often his pieces, usually three-dimensional, incorporate found objects. Over the years Tom has explored a variety of media including acrylic, wood, paper and concrete - and more recently, textiles.

Tom has his own textile company called Ridge and Furrow Fibers. His fabrics recall the tradition of quilt making while adding texture and subtle variation beneath the surfaces.

It's obvious he had a lot of fun working with the banana fiber doll. He included several colorful and playful elements; it's a joyful piece!

** The fabric "drying" on the clothesline is attached with very tiny wooden clothespins. There are even extra clothespins in the bag dangling from the doll's waist.

Monday, May 02, 2011

ground zero

These are some of the images I made a few weeks after 9-11 at Ground Zero in New York. Seems fitting to revisit them today.