Archive for the ‘Art From the Heart’ Category

Four Years Later….January 8…..

…and we have learned nothing. We still kill with guns, we don’t deal with mental health issues. Four years ago three of us set up a website to look at the Tucson shootings. Suzan Drury, Anne Lockard (who is gone, but her indomitable spirit is with us every day), and myself to showcase healing art. You can name a hiking trail, a playground, or a new courthouse for one of the victims, but that doesn’t bring them back. What happened will always hurt. I have lost customers for Marble-T Design because of my stand on gun control. I am a firm believer in the Constitution – it is a remarkable document. But I also firmly believe that the National Rifle Association has co-opted rationality concerning guns and background checks. Just because “criminals will find a way to get guns anyway” doesn’t mean we don’t have background checks. And we are so far away from any rational dialogue on this.

But this isn’t a rant about gun control, although it very easily could be. Sarah Garrecht Gassen wrote an editorial today in the Arizona Daily Star that talks about how we refer to the victims of the shootings. They are not “lost,” they are “taken.” Here’s an excerpt:

So let’s follow Patricia Maisch’s lead and be more honest with our language in how we talk about guns. She’s the person who got the second clip away from the Tucson shooter before he could reload. She’s fought for gun law reform and watched as politicians have failed to stand up to the gun lobby. She hasn’t been shy in her disgust, and she speaks for a lot of us.

We talked on Tuesday afternoon. “Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. It’s always an emotional time of the year. I just think, how unforgivable it is that this could have happened,” she said.

Maisch doesn’t sugarcoat. She’s working diligently for law reforms. But four years in, something that’s fused into the sorrow and the anger gnaws at her: how we talk about gun violence.

She’s on a mission to change the words. “The horrible takings,” is how she talks about the people who have been killed with a gun.

“These people aren’t ‘lost.’ They’re never going to be found. They’ve been taken.”

If you would like to see artwork focused on healing, you can visit Art from the Heart. Here’s my piece, again controversial. Most of the comments I had was that the shooter was mentally ill, that it wasn’t politics that caused him to kill. And thus was ended what could have been a productive dialogue about the state of mental illness and access to guns. I already know some of you will stop becoming readers and customers. Because of this wonderful Constitution of ours, I support your right to do that.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 10.30.22 AM

You can read about my thoughts constructing the piece here. Ultimately the processing from the shootings has led to me pondering our lack of ability to discuss issues calmly, and now I have based the first in a series of novels on what happens when we can’t  – or won’t – talk to each other.

Reflections

It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.

Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.

By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.

Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.

Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.

March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.

I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art  that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.

But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.

Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.

So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.

Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!

Day One, Season 3

  I chose my “Explosion” piece for today because that’s the kind of excitement I feel starting this new season three. Seasons one and two of Cocreating Our Reality were eye-opening and exciting, and for the last few days I have been building up to starting a new journey today. First, I am so blessed to be retired and able to work on art when and where I want to, for as long as I want to. I get to spend every day with my hubby, and life is pretty much wonderful. Health problems – of course, who doesn’t have them at our age. But – that’s not stopping me from living a great life.

I discovered over the last two seasons when it was time to evaluate my goals, that I hadn’t really stretched myself – or thought big enough. So I have been pondering that for the last week or so. What is it I actually want to do?

First and foremost, kind of came to me last night in the moments before sleep, is probably the one most on my mind. I need to take this season and concentrate on me. It sounds selfish, but it isn’t. I have health issues that really need to be addressed, and for so many years they went to the side as other things – students, work, hubby – took their place. If I expect to be as creative for as long as I want, and get out and be politically active, and write – do all the things I want to – than I need to focus on my health. So that is goal number one for this season: take the cholesterol medicine, take my vitamins, watch what I eat, get out regularly and exercise, track my food intake, get some yoga teachings, get my blood readings where they need to be. I actually started thinking this way a few days ago, and I’m pleased to say the exercise has already increased, as well as having a bit more control over appetite.

A second goal is tied in to all this. I am getting a second opinion on my vision issues and will work to find strategies to help with the depth perception and balance issues. A new doctor’s appointment is scheduled for next week Thursday, and I have a teacher friend to talk to about some basic yoga stretches. I always knew this day was coming, and now that it’s here, I need to learn to work with the new limitations.

Overall, for the first time, these two goals seem very positive. One hundred days from now, March 10, I expect that I will have been enormously successful at these first two. That statement alone is a major change for me. It’s very positive, rather than using the word “try.”

Business-wise I have some very specific goals.

Number three in my list is to solve the newsletter/collectors’ information issue. I am, as was said to a friend of mine, “leaving money on the table.” This has to be a regular business goal. I am considering taking Alyson Stanfield’s “Cultivating Your Collectors” class in February. That will depend on a number of things, primarily finances. I am good at reading and implementing, and since I accomplished four of Alyson’s goals in I’d Rather Be in the Studio!, I should be able to accomplish at least three this new season. So: newsletter, portfolio (which we will need for a major event the end of March), and I will look through the list for at least one other. Newsletter once a month should be definitely do-able. A collectors’ newsletter once a quarter should be reasonable. I’m sure there will be others to add here.

Number four is searching out wholesale suppliers for cutting back basic costs of making marbled fabric. As of yesterday I have a new wholesale account with Kona Bay fabrics, as we use their colored cotton quite successfully. We are looking for wholesale sources for premium white cotton, silk/satin ribbon (like Offray), and probably some other materials.

Number five is ramping up our Etsy shop, our Fine Art America galleries, Cafe Press, and looking in to Red Bubble, Three Sisters, and at least one other online selling site. My overall goal in all this is to be able to update these sites once a week, as well as include items from these sites in our soon-to-happen newsletters. I’ve tried setting monetary goals for Etsy and Ebay, and they are very fickle, depending on the economy. I do tweet my Etsy and Ebay offerings once a week, which certainly drives traffic to the site, but I don’t see it converting. However, I know that it is only a matter of time, as is the case with this blog. I am about to hit 1500 viewers per month, so I know it is consistency. (Concerning the blog…when Facebook changed its latest set of operating, my blog numbers dropped. Turns out, on exploration, Networked Blogs was a casualty and needed to be reactivated. Once that happened, I saw numbers increase again…..I am amazed at how net-savvy we need to be these days!)

Art-wise I also have some very specific goals.

Number six is to enter a major show with new work. The deadline for this is mid-February, and I am already hard at work on the first of two pieces. The fabric has been created, and the ideas are flowing. Here’s just some of the fabric…..

Unpolished red satin

If I get accepted, great. If not, I will have two new lovely large art pieces for our body of work. But I am putting out to the Universe that this will be show-worthy art.

Number seven is to create the kit for Marbled Seasons. Yesterday’s blog post showed the first of the four small quilts/table runners. I used to have several patterns, all of which I sold the rights to. So I just need to make more. For this goal I want this set of kits completed, and two new ideas for pattern kits, plus a rewrite of my Polynomial Quilt pattern – which I used the quilts for that very successfully in an adult algebra class to teach multiplying, and it was highly successful.

Number eight is to be completely prepared – except for minor loose ends – by March 10, for StashFest at the La Conner Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington. We have been invited to participate, and it means marbling about 400 fat quarters in the next three months…..another reason for looking carefully at wholesale outlets! This is an interesting goal, because after our last guild presentation, I put out to the universe that it would be fun to travel and do demos in the Southern Arizona, southern New Mexico area. Well, two days later I had this email…..as Dale Anne Potter, my muse with Law of Attraction said, I was open to the possibilities.

Number nine will build on the previous. Develop a letter/sample to go to local guilds for demos and classes. I think just the development at this stage, because we will be focused on making fabric for Washington.

Number ten, under the category of Miscellaneous, comes continuing to work on Art From the Heart, a site devoted to spreading peace and nonviolence in the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. We had two new entries this last month, and I am hopeful for more.

Now that I have these written, I have to chuckle in that I was concerned about trying to get my goals coherent for this season. These are more detailed than the past two seasons, and they will certainly stretch me.

So Day One – I’m going to sew, work on some lists, and get ready for a small craft event on Saturday. Plus, it’s the holidays, and I want to “do more good” this year on a daily basis. May you have a really awesome day!

Monday Marketing – Update

I’m going to just think as I write for this post. After four full months of almost non-stop marketing – and a whole lot of sewing in there also – the business is very busy. We have some things coming up, some things we’ve dropped, and it’s time to evaluate where we have come and where we need to go.

We have dropped a potential art show for a variety of reasons, none of which are really positive in the long run for both us and the business. That was a hard decision to make, and I learned a couple of things. One, we don’t have to jump at everything and say yes to a possibility if it doesn’t feel right. When we were first starting out, I wanted to go after every possibility, even if it was unrealistic. Two, if we have to “push” to make it work, then chances are it isn’t for us. Three, I really like being able to take things at our speed. Even though we have limited years to build our art business, it is more important for us to enjoy each other, take opportunities to be together, and be able to actually create art when we want to. Those were some good lessons on which to ponder (for my English-language friends, no “ending with a preposition”….).

I have started working again on publicizing Art from the Heart, something I really want to do. I am behind on it, but I am slowly seeing progress. I am working on a major commission and learning lots, and I’m nearly half-way through. We are marbling a lot, which we are enjoying, and it seems like we are back to where we were before water and paint and so on became issues. And….we have a guild workshop to do the beginning of November.

Now, we used to do a lot of workshops, and we – not realizing it at the time – blew lots of opportunities to sell fabric. We would go and demonstrate, but never have fabric for folks to buy. Nothing like violating one of the basic rules of marketing – always have product because you never know when someone will want to buy. When I went to the School of Threadology  at Superior Threads a year this past April, I took some fabric and sold out in 10 minutes – I could have sold a LOT more. Lesson learned.

So for this workshop we are doing things very differently. We will go with fat quarters and a couple of gift baskets. We will have hand-out of all our contact information, supplies connections, order forms, and class sign-ups. We need to get back to dealing with all the guilds (and there are a lot more in the city since we were doing this), especially since we have more to offer than when we were originally doing this. And….since we are talking about going east again next year, I need to put the word out and see if we can book a few gigs.

We will do a demonstration in our cookie sheet, so we can create a lot of small pieces to demonstrate patterns, and everything will be easy to transport. Then I have a lot of quilts (as opposed to art pieces) to show a group of beginners. The first quilt I show is my small Attic Window, where I felt the only color I could use with the marbled fabric was black. We’ll come forward to the fish quilt, which I am in the process of re-quilting, since those skills have tremendously improved. Hopefully people will feel inspired to buy/order fabric, and we’ll be busy for the bulk of November.

I need to take pictures of those quilts and get them online to document the journey. October and November hopefully will be extremely busy making and selling fabric!!

Art From the HeART

I’d like to post a reminder here for readers about the Art from the HeART Project and its current push to get 50 works of art on the site by January, in time for remembrances of the January 8 shooting victims in Tucson. Please consider creating a work of art that speaks to peace and kindness, in any size and any medium.

Submission Guidelines

You are about to embark on an artistic endeavor to help change our world. I firmly believe that each one of us can be an instrument of change, regardless of how small. Please join us in creating art to heal our wounds.

Art From the HeART: Healing Hatred, Promoting Peace

An Online Exhibit to Counter Hatred in the United States and Foster Peace in the World

In Memory of: Lives lost and changed forever in the shootings at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.

Who: Any artist who wishes to express his/herself about the growing problem of hatred, hate speech, discrimination, prejudice, and political vitriol in the United States. Any artist who wishes to express his/herself about the need for peace and nonviolence from our neighborhoods to the planet.

What: an online exhibit, complete with process descriptions, of art designed to bring attention to the growing problems of hatred and violence in the United States, as well as the need for peace and nonviolence on the planet.

When: starting as soon as possible and continuing until such time as violence and hatred are no longer problems within the United States or the world.

Organizers: Linda Moran, digital and fiber artist, Tucson, AZ; S. L. Drury, digital and fiber artist, Sedona, AZ; Anne Huskey-Lockard, mixed media artist, Peru, Indiana.

Art: 8 by 10 inches to 9 by 12 inches work of art depicting some abstract or realistic image of the growing problem of hatred in the United States or the personal reaction to events caused by hatred and discrimination in this country. These works of art can be paper, fiber of any kind, oil, photography, weaving, water color, mixed media or digital images. The purpose of every piece MUST BE to shine a light on the growing issue of hatred in America and/or promote a message of peace and nonviolence. Work that is larger or smaller than the indicated sizes will certainly be considered but may not fit the online needs. At this time sculpture or other three-dimensional objects will not be considered. SIZE is NOT a primary consideration. If you work larger or smaller, please continue to do so. The hope is that this size might be comfortable for many who might not otherwise enter.

Submissions: jpgs (one full image and one or two close-ups) at 72 – 100 dpi shall be sent to submissions@artfromtheheart.org along with a written description of why this image addresses the issue. Additional consideration given to personal stories behind the art. Please include media type, materials used, and size of work in description.

Current Deadline: December 15, for art work to be juried onto the site in time for remembrances on January 8.

Jurying: once the jpg of artwork is submitted, along with the written description/essay of the work, artists will be notified of their acceptance within two weeks. Artists retain all rights to their images. Artists will be allowed a link to their personal blogs or websites, but this is not a venue for marketing or selling work. With acceptance of their piece/s, artists commit to spreading a peaceful, nonviolent message.

Please help to spread the word and message of Art From the HeArt. You can view the website here.

Linda, Anne, and Suzan

100 Day Challenge – Season 1

Monday was the 100th day of Season 1 in the Cocreating Our Reality Challenge to practice the Law of Attraction and Abundance and bring more into your life. It has been a pretty amazing 100 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have been more than converted to positive thinking and goal-setting for what we would like to attract into our lives.

I started by setting some goals. I really gave some thought to these, as I tend to blow off this part of an exercise. What I have realized as these 100 days went by is that I dreamed too small. I am now thinking about a new set of goals for these next 100 days and Season 2, and I want to think bigger – I WILL think bigger.

The goals for the first season:

Order storage and redesign the apartment for better creativity and “flowing” work space; well, I redesigned the studio and spent money to buy better storage. The difference is amazing – more productivity, better sense of energy flow through the space, everything has its place, and I am more productive. In fact, I have an organized marketing notebook that seems to be working to guide me through what I want to accomplish.

Break 200 pounds by August 8; hasn’t happened. I have spent more time working on being positive about my body image and what I really want to accomplish with this goal. I am trying to be positive. I have spent over half my life overweight, and I am not expecting miracles, but I know healthwise this has to happen. So I need to get rid of the negativity in that last sentence and expect miracles. I KNOW I can do this.

Dream/think regularly about money coming to me; this took a while for me to work on. I am not used to thinking about money coming to me all the time. Usually it’s about how I need to have enough money to pay the bills. This is a major mental change. And there is money in the bank, the bills are paid, and two trips are planned. That Law of Abundance check only took one month for me to see how it works. I am hooked on those checks. I also am learning to recognize when my thinking is somewhat pessimistic about money, and I am trying to change that vibration.

Set up tutoring goals; I updated my Linked In profile to reflect the tutoring, and I have had business cards made, as well as asked for some recommendations for my skills from Linked In. I have been putting off a brochure, primarily because school is just now starting. I have realized that I am not at all enthused about either substitute teaching or even tutoring because it would take away from my time on my other pursuits. Definitely no subbing in the future for me, but I need to rethink the tutoring.

Plan my life after teaching (retirement); this is working very well. I have had to change my sleep schedule since I don’t need so much sleep, which has been challenging. I am marketing, sewing, designed, taking art classes, reading – all the things I said I wanted to do.

Get back to blogging on a regular basis;  I’m doing this pretty successfully on this blog, not so much with the art blog and the weight loss blog. But the focus for all of this is to build the art business to help support retirement (which seems to be happening), so I am focusing on this blog. The numbers have grown from just over 500 in June to over 800 for the last 30 days. Definite progress.

Make conscious plans and activities to work for peace. This has to become a priority for the next 100 days. I haven’t done anything this season, but I have been thinking about what I want to do. Now I have to implement the plans.

NEXT SEASON’S CHALLENGE GOALS, starting Monday, August 15 and ending November 19:

Break 200 pounds.

Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans.

Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt.

Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center.

Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on).

Take three tutoring clients in mathematics.

Update Art from the Heart website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings.

Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined.

Complete the first three action plans in I’d Rather Be In the Studio by Alyson Stanfield.

Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals.

Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four.

And so it goes……

 

 

 

Art from the Heart – My Entry

I finished my entry for Art from the Heart today. This was a tough piece to do, but it had to be done. It started last Sunday, the day after the Tucson shootings. I wanted to do the Journal Project from 3 Creative Studios, and my goal I set was to work in a 8.5 by 11 inch piece, using only scraps from  my stash.

Well, last Sunday I was in deep depression over the shootings and had to work with some fabric. I pulled some blacks that looked like barriers, fencing. One looked like chicken wire, and one like barbed wire. Black and white, barriers. I used the traditional courthouse steps pattern from quilting, and then used red thread for “blood” to stitch those into place. I was staying pretty literal at that point.

From there I wanted to look at the words and ideas that continue to divide us as a country, but I didn’t want it to just be words. What about action on our parts? I printed out the words on white fabric and then sewed them to the background. If you look at the words closely, you’ll see I used a large needle with very fine thread, as I wanted the needle holes to show…like the bullet holes that wound us.

I actually had trouble coming up with the words to use. So many words I thought of are far more inflammatory than I wanted for this piece. I wanted more general terms that would not cause people to fixate on them and get angry. Yes, the vitriol is heating up, but the purpose of this piece is not to add to the anger. I included left-wing as well as right-wing, and if you look, they are on the opposite sides of the quilt. This needs to be about “us,” not “we” and “them.”

I knew I would have a candle with a flame to illuminate the darkness. Again I printed out the names of the shooting victims. I know from visiting the Vietnam Memorial how powerful names can be, and I do not want us ever to forget these six people. I want their lives to shine down on us and help us overcome these horrible things that divide us. I used three different colors of metallic threads to develop the light from the candle. It doesn’t photograph as brightly as it actually is, so I may still add more  strands of candle light.

I don’t think – in fact, I know – I’m not done. There is more I need to say through fabric, but I need to get a week or so of distance for myself, as well as work on the website. Plus, I am having to think through my own issues with some of these words – monitor my own language and actions.

The Events in Tucson, Part 4

We made it through the week, but not without a lot of extra angst. We planned on Thursday what we would do to keep the kids save if the WBC protested outside out school. It is not easy trying to convince teenagers that doing nothing is the best course of action.

I got to school on Friday at 6:45 AM to find several police cars already in front of the school. That was a comforting sight. Those of us volunteering met in front of the school, only to hear that the WBC members hadn’t gotten on the plane to leave Kansas, so good news for us. The police wanted us to stay through the next half hour to help students enter in case others decided to show and protest.

When we went back out, the Angels were across the street. This is a group of people who show to protect groups from the WBC protests. They do this around the country, and specifically in Tucson to keep the families of shooting victims from having to see the hate.

I got tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful site, these people who don’t know us who came to protect our students from these hate-filled people. The kids thought they were the “bad guys,” and so we were explaining to them this whole situation. A lot of students were convinced they were the KKK, so yet again we had interesting discussions in class, rather than doing a lot of math.

Everyone was tired, and it was certainly difficult maintaining the usual classroom decorum, but as I’ve said, sometimes systems of equations take a backseat to life. I’m still feeling very raw about everything, but I’ve been getting good feedback for the Art from the Heart project. I spent a few hours today working on my piece, and I should be able to finish it up tomorrow. It is raw, like my emotions, but I think it conveys a powerful message. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

The Events in Tucson, Part 2

This has been a long, hard day at school. My high school made the New York Times this weekend about our ethnic studies program being in violation of state guidelines, according to our state attorney general. He has  been after the high school for what he calls subversive teaching, that the Hispanic studies program encourages students to question the actions of our government, and the program also builds unnecessary ethnic pride.

I am trying to be as unbiased as possible here and just state the facts. This specific action is targeting only our Raza Studies, not Native American programs or African American programs. Well, let’s face it, if any groups should question the actions of our government throughout history, it should be these two groups. With the presence of the national media in Tucson this week, I am sure they will descend on the high school for more information.

Our staff meeting this morning dealt with registration issues, as well as with the moment of silence. I was ready for the moment of silence, but there was so much laughing and snickering about being quiet. I wanted to get so angry, but too often laughter is a response to events that make you uncomfortable. The kids in all my classes had questions, from “what happened this weekend that’s got everyone so upset?” “what’s bigotry?” “who’s Gabrielle Giffords?” and “he should get the death penalty,” just to name a few. Rumors abounded, many from news stations outside of Tucson, as well as off MySpace and Twitter. The adults were somber, but the students pretty much accepted it as just another act of violence from so many they have already witnessed or been exposed to. That’s also a very sad commentary on what our inner city students have to deal with on a daily basis.

I’m still stunned, and last night I just felt I had to do some kind of positive action. I had been sewing a piece during the day to represent all the vitriol I see around us. This has morphed into plans for a website to host artwork that carries a message of peace. I plan to unveil the website on Monday, January 17, the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be more to follow in the next days.

This involvement with peace goes back to college days, advocating against the Vietnam war, and World Peace Day, an activity sponsored by the high school chapter of the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council of the high school I taught in on Maui. Students wanted to do some type of activity to promote peace in 1972, and that morphed into a student-run day-long look at peace activities. This was an eye-opener for me, as I was followed, called a Communist, and questioned constantly on the purpose of this day-long activity.

What is it about peace that is so controversial? What is it about nonviolence that is so controversial? Through this art website, with Art from the Heart: Healing Hatred in America, I am hoping we can shed some light on these issues through personal stories and artwork.

If you need to express yourself about the tragedy here in Tucson, about the need for rationale discourse in this country, or about the need for peace, start thinking about how you would express yourself in art.

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