Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Building a Learning Community

Yippee! I was selected recently to participate in the Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) Seminar: Bringing Your Art Into the Classroom. This five-day seminar includes 17 other teaching artists (visual, theatre, dance and music). and features one on one coaching with master teaching artists, curriculum specialists, and school teachers experienced in weaving the arts into the curriculum.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Read To Me! Anytime! Anyplace!

An illustration I created in the book Destiny's Gift by Natasha Tarpley is included in the new 2010 Read to Me! calendar featuring artwork by children's book illustrators across the country, depicting cozy images of reading together each month. My illustration is on the September calendar.

The calendar, published by Family Reading Partnership, includes read-aloud tips by Esmé Raji Codell, author of "How to Get Your Child to Love Reading." The mission of Family Reading Partnership is to create a culture of literacy in which all children have early, frequent, and pleasurable experiences with books, together with a loved one, as a special part of everyday family life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

1st class School Without Walls

I started my student-centered art residency, "Clip, Cut, Paste: Using Technology to Piece Narratives Together," as a resident artist for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this fall. The residency will be executed at the School Without Walls Senior High School in Washington, D.C., with Humanities and Advanced Placement Language and Composition instructor, Kamel Igoudjil. The young teens will create blogs, podcasts and ebooks over the course of 6 weeks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Art of Reading

DATE: Saturday, September 19, 2009
TIME: Kids at Pyramid Atlantic: 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Art & Wine Reception: 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
LOCATION: Pyramid Atlantic's ArtSpring Store,
8519 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD

Kids at Pyramid Atlantic: Read-alouds and art projects for the kids are scheduled for 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15, with Maryland Delegate Shirley Hixson, Sharon H. Philippart of PBS, The Great Zucchini and Gillian Clark, chef at The General Store.

The Art & Wine Reception features artists Adjoa Burrowes, Anthony Dortch, Marsha Gallo, Tony Gallo, Liz Macklin, Anita Merina, Ruse and Dave Scavone. A portion of the proceeds from art sales will be donated to The Reading Connection (TRC). Imagination Blooms, art by TRC kids honoring Eric Carle, will be on exhibit.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Search of a Quiet Place

While moving artwork to a storage place this summer, I found a lithograph I created while an undergraduate art student at Howard University called "In Search of a Quiet Place". I remember working in the printmaking studio and the effort it took to grind the thick limestone down. Back then it was a very physical process. Nobody uses stones anymore, but litho plates. Surprisingly the print still looks fresh to me and the sentiment underlying its creation is still alive today, decades later.

Pictured here is the artwork being photographed by Black Artists of DC (BADC) Liberian American Photographer, Desepe DeVargas.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Serengeti On This Side

I'll be presenting some of my new digital prints at "Meet Your Printmaker" exhibition on September 19 at Serengeti Gallery, 7919 Central Avenue, Capitol Heights, MD. joined by artists Liani Foster, William Harris, Wayland House and George Shomari-Smith. http://www.galleryserengeti.com/exhibitions.html

Telling Your Story Through Art

This fall I'm on the Class Acts Arts roster for the first time. Class Acts Arts, Inc. is a non-profit arts outreach and presenting organization dedicated to bringing high quality and culturally diverse performances, workshops and artist residencies to schools and communities, at-risk youth, seniors, and special needs populations throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.

On my directory page, it urges teachers to infuse their curriculum with captivating workshops and residencies exploring multi-media collage, paper decorating, bookmaking and creative writing through my programs Telling Your Story Through Art. These are some of my offerings. Create cut paper collage installations celebrating family in the Family Ties workshop using my book Grandma's Purple Flowers as a guide. Examine cultural identity creating visual narratives in Our Wide Wide World workshop that links history, geography and social studies. Explore science and the natural world in the unique bookmaking and collage workshop called Seasons of Hope, Seasons of Change. As an illustrator of over a dozen books for children, I like to lead students in creative explorations that aid in self discovery and esteem. For more information: http://www.classactsarts.org/index.php/artists/roster?artist=53

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm In It Deep

It's been two months since my residency ended at Pyramid Atlantic. Yesterday I delivered a print I created digitally at Pyramid during that time entitled "Bye-Ku: I'm In It Deep". As a resident artist, the print will be included in their archives. As I finished stitching the hem of the silk cloth at painter Marsha Gallo's studio in DC, I couldn't help but feel excited about the new directions I want to take with my Bye-Ku series. I definately want to include more work on cloth, introduce more stitching and printing also.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Showcasing Do's and Don'ts

Today I attended a lively quarterly meeting on Showcasing hosted by Maryland's Teaching Artist Institute (TAI) held at Kumari restaurant in Baltimore. It was great meeting not only other teaching artists (Gail Danley, and Julie Kurzava); individuals that represent teaching artists (Liz Wheeler from Class acts Arts) and representatives from various educational and cultural institutions (ie. Maryland State Arts Council and Young Audiences). Facilitator, Pat Cruz (TAI Co-Director) skillfully orchestrated the exchange of information and responses from the informal panel about "Do's and Don'ts of Showcasing" and the later discussion about "Designing the Dream Showcase". The meeting concluded with a discussion on formats and possible alternative structures and a draft of a Plan of Action. For artists like myself who are new to showcasing, this meeting was invaluable.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Your Art Legacy

Do you ever wonder what will become of your art when you are no longer around. If you consider your art your legacy, I have learned that documenting your art is critical. You can begin by photographing everything you create and keeping good records that include when the art was produced and techniques used to create it. To encourage this notion, Black Artists of DC (BADC) scheduled an afternoon session in late August where photographer Desepe DeVargas was available to shoot members artwork. BADC founder Aziza Claudia Gibson Hunter will offer a seminar on documentation on September 24, 6 - 8:00 pm at Utrecht on 13th and Eye Streets NW, D.C.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back In The Studio

This week I started working at painter Marsha Gallo's studio on New York Avenue to finish up work for the Serengeti show coming up. I worked on some of the digital prints I created during my residency at Pyramid and added collaged elements to them and some stamping.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Of pain and loss, mourning and redemption...

I ended my 5-month artist residency at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, Maryland on Thursday, June 25 with an artist talk. Drawing upon my experience as a visual storyteller, collage artist and designer, I excitedly shared my new work in the series called "Bye-Ku" that explores loss and abandonment in personal relationships. The word "Bye-Ku" is a play on the word Haiku, which is a compact Japanese form of poetry that focuses on nature.

Utilizing African American culture and blues tradition as a basis, I used a variety of traditional media including printmaking, collage, and letterpress as
well as more exploratory digital media, to create visual narratives
that speak of pain and loss, mourning and redemption.

I shared the earliest exploration of this new series with my audience and look forward to an expansion of the Bye-Ku series soon as I make artists books, more prints and collage.

See more photos on Facebook

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Residencies with the Kennedy Center

Today I presented in front of a group of teachers at the Kennedy Center who were interested in learning more about the student centered residency programs that I offer. Each dancer, theater artist or visual artist only had 10 minutes to show what they were working with. It was invigorating.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Than Words Exhibit at Pyramid

Artwork from Pyramid Atlantic Art Center's More Than Words after school art program was on exhibit Saturday at Pyramid's gallery in Silver Spring, Maryland. Students from Silver Spring International Middle School came with their parents and other family members and proudly showed off their creations. For most, this was the first time their work had been exhibited in a professional gallery. Several students led a mini hands-on bookmaking workshop to parents demonstrating one of the bookmaking forms they learned in class - the accordion.

The More Than Words program focused on using storytelling, bookmaking, and printmaking techniques to promote creativity and build youth literacy. This time the focus was on recycling. The exhibit featured altered artist books, prints made from styrofoam plates and collographs, collages made from recycled slideholders, and magazines and a paper quilt featured above, made from paste paper squares created by the youth. I team taught the 20 classes with master storyteller Ellouise Schoettler.

Banners of Hope

I started leading art workshops for teen girls at a Juvenile Detention Center in Maryland again. So far we've created several accordion books and just finished our printmaking unit. I taught them how to print using stamps they carved out of thick blue foam pads using a pencil. After creating the linework, they inked up the pads and stamped onto handmade Japanese papers. Last week we talked about spring and the hope that is inherent in it. I read from my book Grandma's Purple Flowers as they listened attentively and anticipated the impending death of the grandma. Using long strips of white paper, they stamped their hand carved images on them using bright colors and then cut shapes from paper to add to their designs. The banners they created were cheerful and encouraging.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Express Yourself at the Library

I made books with young people starting with Mount Pleasant Public Library in Washington D.C. as part of the summer "Express Yourself at the Library" program for teens. Students made books out of a single sheet of paper and learned several paper decorating techniques including using plastic wrap to create texture. I'll be visiting 21 D.C. public lbrary branches throughout the course of the summer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Creative Collaborations

The 20th anniversary of the Reading Connection, an organization dedicated to putting books in the hands of children in housing crisis, was celebrated last night at a Gala in Arlington, VA. Pictured above is a collaborative quilt created by myself, painter Marsha Gallo (pictured on left) and quilter Cleo Hurley. In February, Marsha and I led an arts workshop with Reading Connection children in SE D.C. as part of the non-profits' Imagination Blooms project. Using bright beads, sequins, ribbon, yarn and shapes cut from felt, the children cut and pasted lively collaged images of themselves on a fabric background. No two portraits were alike and represented the uniqueness of each child.

Making Handmade Paper

I team taught a handmade papermaking workshop with middle school students along with Ellouise Schoettler and Gretchen Schermerhorn from Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. Above a student has immersed deckle and frame in a vat of dyed pulp to form his sheet.

Here a student transfers his sheet onto pellon, along with others. These papers were made from blue jeans that had been beaten in a huge blender.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Paste Paper's Promise

Many of my art works begin with paper. Paste paper holds a lot of intrigue for me. There's something about working through the pigment with tools like combs and creating linear patterns. The process is very accessible. Simple enough to teach to kids, yet complex enough for incorporation into collages and other mixed media work.

Face Book

Middle school students in the More Than Words after-school program took the altered book project to a whole new level with the creations they made last week. Imaginations soared with the book pictured above made from recycled magazines, and foil.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Altered States of Art

In the More Than Words class yesterday we finished working on altered books from magazines and discussed how to make the books more 3 dimensional. I demonstrated different methods of altering pages such as cutting and curling, weaving strips of paper, making curls from strips, folding to form geometric shapes and rolling cylinders to reinforce the pages. We talked about the negative space under the opened pages to see how hanging elements could be added to add more interest. The students worked so hard. They were encouraged to talk to each other about solutions. At class end, students displayed their books on two tables and we collectively talked about them. Many were impressed by the sculptural feel of the books and the interesting and diverse approaches to altering the pages. I left my camara in the classroom . Yikes. Pictures to come...

Friday, February 13, 2009

My First Ever Altered Book

I worked on my first altered book from magazines using collaged elements to demonstrate the technique to a class I was teaching to middle school students. I love the sculptural effect you can achieve by twirling and weaving and rolling and cutting the pages.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Than Words Exhibit Covered in Local Newspaper

The reception last Saturday at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center of middle school student art in the More Than Words after school art program that Ellouise and I taught was written up in the Silver Spring Gazette today. I must admit the show was quite impressive. The kids were proud and brought their parents to view it.
Here's the link: http://www.gazette.net/stories/02112009/silvnew181448_32478.shtml

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scrapping It

This accordion book was made out of discarded juice packs and other food packaging as part of the Scrapping It: Reuse, Reduce Recycle project I'm working on with young teens this winter in Silver Spring. I made this example to show students some possibilities. We will be making altered books from magazines, and prints using discarded objects.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Art Residency at Pyramid in Full Swing

I started work on my art residency at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center this week in Silver Spring. Pyramid is an internationally renown arts institution. I'll be creating a whole new body of fine art prints, artists books and digital prints for the next 5 months. I was awarded the Keyholder Residency along with two other artists in December. Pyramid Atlantic offers fully equipped studios for papermaking, etching, lithography, relief, screen-printing, letterpress, and digital printing. They are enriched by the supportive, creative community comprised of artist-staff, interns, other visiting artists, and the public.

Imagination Blooms

Using books to support the Imagination Blooms project
The phrase "Imagination Blooms" was given to the creation of art projects that will be produced at 24 DC area shelters. I was invited by painter Marsha Gallo to share my books and help children to create self portraits using shapes cut out of felt, buttons, sequins, feathers and a bunch of other materials. I was delighted by the creativity the young people displayed. Earlier in the evening I read my Grandma's Purple Flowers book to them and another book I illustrated called My Steps. The art the children created that day will be stitched into a quilt and displayed at the "Of Wine and Words" gala celebrating the Reading Connections 20th anniversary in Washington D.C. in March. The Reading Connection is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing books and a lifelong love of reading to children in housing crisis.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Than Words Exhibit and Reception

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Director, Jose Dominguez
and art student discuss flag book.

Guest views glue prints made by students.

Saturday, February 7th, 2009, 3 pm to 5 pm
More Than Words is Pyramid Atlantic Art Center's new after school program at Silver Spring International Middle School led by myself and storyteller Ellouise Schoettler. The program focused on using storytelling and bookmaking techniques to promote creativity and build youth literacy. This exhibit will feature the artist books, prints and collages created by the youth in the program's winter session where we focused on the presidential election and all the differences between people and ideas that resulted. Come to the "Meet the Youth" Reception at Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center, located at 8230 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Was There... One In A Million

I braved the cold and wind yesterday to witness the Inauguration of President Barack Obama and witness history. Along with three friends, I rode the train from Virginia to arrive on the mall at 6 a.m. in Washington as the sun was rising. The energy was so elevated. We were greeted by volunteers smiling broadly and welcoming us to the Inauguration. We didn't have tickets, so we stood among a million others from all over the nation. I must admit, it was quite a challenge to stay warm. It was especially challenging trying to keep my toes and fingers warm inspite of extra layers of socks and gloves. At the end of the day (we didn't make it back home til 5 p.m. and must have walked more than 5 miles) and after Obama's speech and the prayers and songs and poetry, I felt it was so worthwhile and such an exhilirating experience. The photo above was taken as throngs of people lined up to enter L'Enfant Plaza to take the train home.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Books and Books

Last night I spoke to a group of writers at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) regional conference at Books and Books in Coral Gable. What an amazing book store. I opened with how wonderful it is to be alive in this particular time in history at the dawn of a new era with all the hope and promise it entails. And how as keepers of the culture, our responsiblity to be sensitive to and reflect the full diversity of America.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I'm still in Miami. 70 degrees and sunny! The opening of my COLOR ALL AROUND exhibit was Thursday at Miami-Dade Public library main branch. I addressed a group of children's librarians who had convened for their annual meeting. I talked about how I entered the children's book market through the back door and my exciting journey. I then walked them through my collage technique and showed examples of watercolored and textured papers I painted and use to cut out shapes in composing my illustrations. I've been visiting branches all over the city and working with children.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cut It Out

Kids cut out self portraits from cut and torn paper at workshops I gave at 4 library branches thoughout the city while in Miami.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Children's Librarians in Miami

I addressed a group of Children's Librarians at their annual meeting at the Miami-Dade Public Library System main branch where my exhibit "Color All Around" was being shown. I talked about my process creating the mixed media collages for my books and how I entered the highly competitive children's book market through the back door.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First Workshops of the New Year

I give two workshops today at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, VA with third graders. It's an inter-generational book project. I will talk about my career as an author illustrator, share my work and display boards and have the children create their own collages to use as a page in their books. This sounds exciting.