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

Monday, September 26, 2016


On September 23, 2006 (almost ten years ago to the day) I started this blog. At the time, I was busy planning my first trip to Uganda and wanted to keep my friends and family informed as I made my way. It was important to me that my father, 85 back then, could read about my journey without having to worry each day if I was OK or not.

On of my first posts was about a pair of red shoes. I bought them for the trip, but they became symbolic to me. They were about stepping outside the box, stretching myself, moving into exciting and unknown territory - just like to the trip to Africa that lay ahead of me.

My love of writing and sharing photographs led me to continue the blog after I returned home from that trip. It became a disciplined exercise in journaling; there were many days when sharing what was on my mind helped me better understand the world around me, the people around me... and ultimately, myself. The fact that I actually had readers who followed my musings made me feel connected in a really positive way. I led those readers through the twists and turns of my life, revealing, questioning and learning more and more as I went. I shared a healthy dose of photography, and I wrote about a lot about Change the Truth.

Now it's time for me to step outside this box, stretch myself and move in a new direction, a new unknown territory. After all, not being stuck in the same place is what keeps us vital... and able to move forward.

So, here I go.

Many of my readers have been with me from the very first post; some have gotten on the bandwagon for a while and left, and others are relative newcomers. Thanks to all of you for devoting a few minutes of your day to see what it is I had to say or show. I've really enjoyed this chapter of my artistic life; I hope you gleaned something useful from it every now and then.

If you are interested in keeping up with all things related to Change the Truth, please follow along on Facebook. My photography Facebook page is here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

three more volunteers head to st. mary kevin children's home

Change the Truth is thrilled to announce the next group of volunteers that is now making its way to Uganda!

Andrew Musgrave is a father of two young girls and works full time as a Social Justice Director. He will be making his first trip to Uganda. He is very excited to experience firsthand the wonderful things happening at SMK, and he looks forward to sharing his love of sports and computers with the kids. He also plans to visit some of the schools that CTT/SMK students attend to gain some perspective for his work in Padibe and Gulu, Northern Uganda. 

Joining him will be Erin Alexander. Erin has traveled to Northern Uganda twice before, but this will be her first visit to SMK, and she is thrilled. As a former English teacher and now owner of All Souls Yoga, Erin plans to do yoga, journaling and creative story-telling that will help students tap into their innate courage during her time there. 

Suzanne Garr will be making her fifth trip to SMK to spend time with her kiddos, introduce some new art projects, tour various schools of CTT sponsored students and simply have fun playing games, reading, having a movie night and a few other fun-related activities. She will be splitting her time between SMK and some schools in the North where she will travel with Andrew and Erin to continue their collective work, which includes helping students with their educational dreams. The team travels September 16th and will return home October 2nd

Stay tuned for posts and pictures!

Saturday, September 10, 2016



One of the most wonderful people I've ever known passed away last night. His name was Isak. Read his obituary, and you'll see that this was a man who was extraordinary in every sense of the word. A survivor, a man of conviction, a gentle and caring soul, a loving family man, a kind and dear friend. He was funny, charming, slightly irreverent and always generous. Next week, he and his lovely wife Ann would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. (I took this picture of him at the celebration of their 65th.) They don't make 'em like this any more. Rest in peace, sweet Isak. The world was lucky to have you in it, and I am blessed to have known you.

Isak Federman came to Kansas City in 1946, the only member of his family to have survived the Holocaust. He was a successful businessman, a loving parent, and a generous supporter of the Kansas City Jewish community. He was a character, a dramatic and humorous storyteller who could take over a room and make friends instantly. He died on September 9, 2016, at the age of 94.

Isak was born on March 14, 1922, in Wolbrom, Poland, the third child of Boruch and Ruchla Biala Federman. His father died before Isak was a year old, and his mother eventually remarried Herschel Kalisz with whom she had a fourth child. Encouraged by his mother and stepfather, he left home at the age of thirteen to study at a Yeshiva (a school for Jewish boys), but returned home in the summer of 1939 amid rumors of a German invasion. After his village was occupied he was picked up on the street by the German SS in the fall of 1939, and ordered to help build a forced labor camp nearby. Eventually, he was forced to do slave labor in eighteen camps, including Rzeszow, Plaszow, Flossenberg, and Sachsenhausen. He built roads and barracks, worked in salt mines, and “pretended” to operate a lathe machine. He was also forced to clean up rubble from the German invasion of Russia, and later, he and other prisoners were marched into Berlin during bombing raids, and forced to clear rubble there as well. In 1944, he was shot in the head and wrist while escaping from the concentration camp at Bergen Belsen, near Hamburg, and survived in the forest for several days before being captured. He was liberated by the British Army on May 3, 1945, weighing about 80 pounds, and sick with typhus. 

After Isak had spent about six weeks in an army field hospital, he went back to Bergen Belsen, where a displaced persons camp had been established, in hopes of finding information about his family. He found no surviving family members, but he met Anna (Chana) Warshawski, who remained lovingly devoted to him for the rest of his life, as he was to her.

In December 1945, he heard a radio translation of a speech in which President Truman announced that 100,000 displaced persons would be allowed to immigrate to the United States. He encouraged Anna and her surviving family members to apply. In June 1946, they traveled to New York under the sponsorship of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. When they arrived, the Joint representative suggested they move to Kansas City. In Yiddish, Isak asked him if Kansas City was in America; upon being told that it was, he said that they would go. That September, he and Anna, now Ann, were married, the first survivors to do so in the Kansas City area. Five hundred “strangers” attended their wedding, and they were embraced by the Jewish community in Kansas City. They were immediately invited to join Kerem Israel Synagogue, now Kehilath Israel. Over the years, Isak and Ann made a number of lifelong friends with whom they shared a commitment to Kehilath Israel. Isak served the synagogue in a number of ways, including as its President. He was actively involved in B’nai Brith and Jewish Federation of Kansas City, and was both a Mason and a Shriner. While he referred to himself as a “newcomer” (“green-ah” in Yiddish) he was bold and self-confident, a salesman who was hard to resist, genuinely liked by his customers, and a hard worker.

In 1948, while still learning the English language, he co-founded Superior Upholstered Furniture Company. He sold that company in 1976 and after being retired “for a weekend” became restless and started K.C. Textile Company, which he eventually sold in 1996. While he would point out that his secular education stopped after seven grades, he was an astute businessman, a dealmaker whose handshake was his bond. Indeed, he was a founding director of Lenexa National Bank, and was the Board Chair who led the negotiation of its sale to Commerce Bank.
In 1993, along with his good friend Jack Mandelbaum, he co-founded the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, which teaches the history of the Holocaust as a means to counter indifference, intolerance and genocide.

Isak had always been reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences; despite that, he decided to share those experiences to help raise funds for MCHE. None of his friends were spared his pitch, as he and Jack worked to help build and finance an organization that continues to serve the entire community. He loved reading about and discussing current events and history, attending sporting events, and traveling with Ann. He was a patriot, proud to be a citizen of the United States and grateful to Kansas City for welcoming him when he had no home to return to.

In addition to his beloved wife Ann, he is survived by three children, Rachel Altman (Avrom), Arthur Federman (Diane), and Lorie Federman, by five grandchildren (Rebekah Altman, Audrey Federman, Carla Federman, Elijah Knight, and Maya Knight), and by seven great grandchildren. The family thanks the staff of Suites 2 and 3 at Village Shalom and that of Kansas City Hospice for their devoted care of Isak during the last years of his life. Special thanks to Sonia Warshawski for her love and support of Ann.

Friday, September 09, 2016

gloasters now at a store named stuff

I'm really excited to announce that my Gloaster coasters are now available at STUFF, a wonderful store in Brookside in Kansas City. Years and years ago, the dynamic sister duo at Stuff, Sloane and Casey, did my very first book signing/release party. It was for my book Convergence. I'll never forget how wonderful that night was. Sloane and Casey made me feel like a million bucks, and the crowd that assembled did, too.

I'm thrilled to be back in the fold at STUFF. There are 60 other artists represented in this store stuffed with wonderful stuff, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

Here are some of the new Gloasters you'll find among the 39 designs now available.

Bowed Head

Colorful Leaves

Handful of Leaves

Head in the Clouds



Pears on Hair

Tulip Tree

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

sunflower field

Ted Grinter's Sunflower Field is 40 acres of huge, splashy, smiley flowers. The farm is between Tonganoxie and Lawrence, Kansas. I went there yesterday and made some photographs.

Father and Daughter


Waving Sunflowers

Quick Trip Cup


Monday, September 05, 2016

news from natalie

The Disney film, Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo is scheduled to be released in just a few weeks. Based on the book of the same title by Tim Crothers, it's the true story of a Phiona Mutesi, a young girl who defies the odds of growing up in one of the toughest slums in Uganda to become an international chess champion.

The story itself seems a little unbelievable from an abstract perspective. What are the odds that this young girl who is struggling to survive, would happen upon a mentor, who grew up much like herself, and he could arm her with the skills to discover a talent that would enable her to change her circumstances? The unlikelihood of it all is perhaps why it will make a great movie.

The thing is, it's not that unbelievable. In fact, I know a lot of Phionas--children who have defied the odds and found their passions in music, art, dancing, and academics. 
This past week I invited five of these young people to join me in reading the Queen of Katwe as part of a small book club. We met after they read the first half and they have already identified so many parallels between their own lives, and the lives of the two main characters, Robert and Phiona. 

As a visitor in their lives for only a few weeks a year, I have struggled with finding a balance between being a role model, and encouraging the children at SMK to find the role models that surround them everyday. This book, and the conversations that have arisen from discussing it, has helped strike that balance. We have been able to talk openly about the challenges they have--and continue to--face, and the pride they should feel in working to achieve their goals. Despite the fact that Change the Truth has been there to help along the way, their accomplishments are a result of their own hard work. Nothing our volunteers can provide can do the work for them, and what they dare to achieve is a result of their own dedication to their dreams.