Beginning at 11:30 am, today, The Sixteen Days of Hope officially kicked off at Lincoln's Gateway Mall. The purpose to this project is to bring awareness to local non-profit Hope Venture and the work they are doing in Asia and Africa.
A number of people showed up to place glass on the work's 3 panels. I can't even begin to share about the amazing people who stopped by and the different walks of life they came from. Some deeply touched by the young girl who inspired this piece. The young Indian girl who took her life because her family could not afford a notebook and pencil to go to school (worth just 16 cents). Others were excited to be part of something bigger than themselves and seemed to understand that we can all bring hope to our spheres of influence. Others were interested in learning more about Hope Venture and getting involved with the work they are doing.
My friend Carol Welker showed up mid way through the work today for a visit. She is a great photographer and gave of her skills today to capture many of the images in this blog. When I saw the images, I was taken by how she captured exactly what a project like this is about. Yes, it is about the Hope Venture and the work they do, but in a broader scope, it is about people standing next to one another .... working together .... to complete a beautiful work.
Though we began the day wondering if it would really take 16 days to complete this project, I can safely say that yes it will. I am thankful for some amazing artists, colleagues, and friends who came out to not only support the work on the project, but also came to lend a helping hand on crowd control and instructing participants in what to do.
I did learn, once again, how difficult it is to let go of an idea and let God take the process as He determines. This is nothing short of stretching for me. And I think the hardest part of letting go today was to let the project be safe in the hands of my very capable artist friends. And yet, it was super fun watching them proceed in the process in a way they were most comfortable. I look forward to working with them more during our next public time Saturday, July 16 from noon to 4 pm.
As I think on some of the lessons I've learned today and yesterday, I am amazed at how they apply to my life as a mother of boys. Lessons like stepping back, letting go and watching them proceed in the process of life -- even when it's not the process I think it should be. And as I write that, I am amazed at how God wired me to learn life lessons by creating pieces of artwork. To learn about relationships, community, how we walk life and view one another. And how to hold my tongue, my email, or my text to calm down and proceed in patience and grace. It is all very humbling, but lessons I need to learn and wouldn't know I needed if I wasn't creating art and doing that which God made me to do.
I'm tired, could use prayer for stamina for the next 15 days, but overall excited to be starting this journey.
The Cat was officially let out of the bag this morning as this article: ((http://journalstar.com/niche/neighborhood-extra/news/artist-to-create-glass-mosaic-at-gateway-mall/article_4d9548be-a3de-5eef-a053-d2f2cbc6b086.html) hit the newpaper today talking about a 16 day art project at Gateway Mall entitled "16 Days of Hope." Starting July 9 thru July 24 (16 days) I will be working to create a large scale mural of this sketch.
The mural is being created to bring awareness to Lincoln-based non-profit Hope Venture. thehopeventure.org
Hope Venture works inside the countries of India, Kenya, and Uganda helping to meet basic and educational needs through local businesses in these countries. The organization has partnerships with locals and seeks to bring a better way of life for an entire community. Hope Venture is partnering with Gateway Mall -- where this event will be held and at the end of the project's journey it will be on permanent display near the Cookie Company entrance of the mall. The mural will be completed on October 21st at The Night of Hope fundraiser event at Chet Hay in downtown Lincoln. That night a small version of the mural will also be auctioned off with all proceeds going to the work of Hope Venture. One amazing fact about the Hope Venture is that 100% of what they bring in for projects goes to the projects they support. There is a totally separate path to give to in order to support their staff. The mural and the name of the event "16 Days of Hope" are inspired by the story of a young gal who committed suicide over a mere 16 cents - the money it would take for her to purchase a notebook and pencil to attend school. Many of us in the USA have that amount of money rolling around on the floor of our vehicle or stuck in our couch cushions. That was heart-wrenching and inspiring to me. Inspiring because it means that it doesn't take much to make a HUGE impact and that anyone -- even the "poor" in our country can make a difference on the other side of the world.
So that's the next path I'm on. God has put me here, I am sure of that and I look forward to what He has in store and who He will have me meet along the way. If you want to follow the process - things kick off at 11:30 am on July 9 at Gateway Mall and the public will have the opportunity to place pieces on the mural. Then follow me on Facebook and on this blog as I plan to keep it updated throughout the process.
And I'm requesting prayers for stamina, for myself and the Hope Venture volunteers who will be out at Gateway everyday throughout the event. Also for protection for the people placing glass during public working times.
From September to December I had the honor of leading nine artists in a three walled (made of 16- 4' x 7' and 1 - 2' x 7' canvas panel) mural celebrating how God has related to His people through history. The mural is on display at the Lincoln Berean Church through Easter 2016. The project's purpose was three fold. The first purpose was to express and celebrate the coming of Immanuel, God with us which we celebrate at Christmas. The goal was to be completed with the large mural in time for the Christmas Eve service. In celebrating the coming of the Christ child a team of artists looked at how God came first to man as God the Creator -- large, mighty and powerful (Wall 1 - God wall). Then as His plan of salvation unfolded God sent His Son Jesus into the world (Wall 2- Jesus wall). Jesus would live the perfect life you and I could not hope to live and would ultimately lay down His life by being crucified on the cross to pay the penalty of sin which is death. He wouldn't just die and be buried, however, He would raise from the dead - ALIVE - and then later, after appearing to many disciples, would go back to Heaven preparing the way for those would would choose to give their lives to Him. Jesus - With Us -- Immanuel is what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus is Alive and among us to walk with us always, to reveal who God is to us and to save us for relationship. This salvation is not merely a ticket to Heaven, it is for a personal, one on one relationship of love, acceptance, and grace regardless of our past. Then when someone places his or her trust in Jesus as Lord of their life, He provides a promise, a down payment if you will, of the Holy Spirit (which is the third wall). The spirit is God living IN His children. This is why at times someone may seem so different than the rest of the world. Something about them draws you in. It is the Holy Spirit residing in them, walking with them, and spurring them on. This is honestly what my life is all about -- it is about this relationship with the Trinity - God, Jesus, Holy Spirit (a mystery of three in one). I'm not perfect, I often am way more legalistic than I want to be, but I know without a doubt that what Jesus says is true, what the Bible gives account to is true. I know this God personally and He has changed my life. I wish I could tell you all the ways.
So the second purpose to the mural was to give the congregation at Lincoln Berean Church the opportunity to watch the unfolding of three large paintings. Often people do not see artists in process and it is easy to assume art just magically appears. By working in the coffee shop at the church in full public view, people were able to see the mural change week to week. It was also humbling as the leader, when it became apparent that the public would not only see the progress but our mistakes would be laid bare also, especially if they couldn't be fixed until the following week. This was a good practice in vulnerability as an artist. One lady in particular would make it a point to come up to the second floor coffee shop weekly to see the progress.
And the final purpose was to gather artists together to work on a project in community. As I mentioned a team of 10 artists worked on this over a two month period of time. Many stories, questions, challenges, and cups of coffee were shared while working on this mural. I know I am closer to these artists than before this project.
I am thankful for the faithfulness of the team from conception of the images on the walls to the paintings and vignette work done by individuals. I'm also thankful for the man who worked so hard to create all 17 canvas panels for us for the paintings. Without their help and encouragement it wouldn't have come together and been completed. I'm thankful the for the talented group of people I work with week in and week out to serve our church and community. I'm thankful for their constant prayers as the months in which we worked on this I faced daily physical pain and other struggles. I am thankful for the opportunity to gather in community with one another and build relationships. They are deeper now than before. SO THANK YOU. What an amazing journey.
Let me begin at the beginning. Back in November I received a random email from Noyes Art Designs in Denver, CO. They had found my website and were interested in sharing a piece called "Broken and Praising" with one of their clients in western Nebraska. I gave them the ok to share the work and kind of forgot about it. Then in January I ran across the email as I was cleaning out my inbox and wondered, "hmm wonder what ever happened with that," and pushed it to the back of my mind. So, I focused my energy on the Illuminating Lighthouse Light bulb project and told God how I was looking forward to the summer off. I had to laugh then when the next day I saw I had another email from Noyes Art Designs, this time from a Nancy Noyes and she asked me to call her.
I did so immediately and she proceeded to tell me that her client liked the "Broken and Praising" mosaic piece and that she would like to commission me to create two pieces of art for a hospital called Great Plains Health in North Platte to be opening in August of this year. She wanted me to create a piece for the Labor and Delivery wing and one for the Pediatric wing. I could hardly contain my excitement on the phone as she shared the commission details. After I got off the phone my mind kept racing with this opportunity and then she called me again apologizing for some miscommunication on details. It was in that moment God realigned my thinking about the project. He asked me, "What is this going to be about?" "Is this going to be about the money or Me using you for My glory?" I realized I had gotten consumed (in a very short time) with the prospect of making some good money creating art. I was instantly realigned and hit my knees to pray over this project and let God do His thing. I was a bit nervous as I had a short timeline to create sketches to submit for the project. I seemed to bang my head against a wall for the first few days of that week struggling to come up with ideas in the style of the other piece and working off a few ideas Nancy had given me. I couldn't get anywhere no matter how hard I prayed and how hard I tried. Then later that week, God brought to me images of the motions of my own kids make as they play. This lead to the first piece called "On Parade."
So now I had left the piece for Labor and Delivery. Over the years, and especially this year, as my youngest is a kindergarten people continually mention to me how fast time goes. I realize this is so true especially as my baby is no longer a toddler. It made me think of how much I love my own kids, how much they grow and so quickly and all the reminders I've been given to cherish those moments. This inspired the second piece called "In a Blink." I hope the piece will remind new moms to be present in each moment and cherish them even during the first year. The piece has a ribbon that will have the words, love, cherish, and grow on it with five vignettes of relational interaction that occur during the first year for a child and parent.
So the sketch work was complete and now to propose color schemes. Another hard one. I prayed over this and lived in the process of wrestling with this decision much into the final week. I emailed Nancy to tell her I was about finished but would have to get all the information to her the start of the next week as I was struggling with color. Her response to me was so encouraging and exciting and it helped ease the fear of not having a clue what colors I'd submit at that point. I cleared my day that Monday to work out the colors by creating samples of paints and combinations of them. This not only gave me the route I finally decided to go but also some other options for the decision makers at the hospital. So I submitted everything that day and waited.
It was exciting when a little over a month later, Nancy contacted me and said they loved it and we'd proceed. Then the process of prepping an invoice and waiting for the go ahead to begin. And I waited and wondered, and waited and somewhere along the way, God revealed that I wasn't able to start just yet because He needed me to complete an exhibit I was working on for church and to have some rest BEFORE this project was to begin.
Just Friday I received an email from Nancy saying it was time to start and the deadline for the project would be mid-July. After a few days of rest after some huge projects I had just completed it was time to begin. I fretted off an on all weekend trying to rest but antsy to start -- how was this project going to get done in this short time? How with some trips and other things with friends and family going on?
SO THAT BRINGS US TO TODAY:
This morning I laid it all before God. "I can't do this, not without You," I told Him. He reminded me of all the times in my life He has done remarkably miraculous things in the face of little time and my inability. I was, right where He wanted me. I am choosing to live right here, where I am not able but He is able. SO today I began work on the patterns for the sculptures and in just 5-6 hours I had them completed and ready to begin.
I am super excited to really get to work on this project for the next few months. I covet prayers in the process; and look forward to meeting Nancy in person and the people at Great Plains Health in North Platte.
So amazing that this all started with Noyes Art Designs finding my website and taking a chance on me. So blessed to have this opportunity.
The end of March and beginning of April have been full of creative energy for me as God opened the floodgates of creating. The journey began several weeks ago as I wrestled with whether or not to hang an exhibit in our church that featured photographs of people's tattoo along with writings to tell part of their life story. Being a congregation that spans generations, I desired to make the motives for the exhibit clear on all levels so I began important conversations with leaders on the topic. Though most were supportive, I was challenged to walk forward with grace and patience. Those two words stuck in my mind as I entered into difficult conversations as to when the exhibit would be hung. Being someone who doesn't have a problem with tattoos, I felt like I was walking on the borders of the issue which made the decision somewhat easier and somewhat harder. Patience and Grace continued to ring in my ears as I wrestled with God and grieved the state of the human heart. I did my best to look at both sides and in the process, God opened the flood gates of artwork as I wrestled with questions concerning generation gaps, gray areas, and more. I was entering territory I had never been and reality was being revealed. In it God lead me to create -- not to only praise Him but for Him to teach me and show me what I needed to see and learn. From it came 19 paintings that God then lead me to hang in the gallery at Lincoln Berean Church. So that tattoo exhibit was put on hold in the church gallery and instead God opened the door for the exhibit to be hung at a place called The Space for about a month from May to June. As I've now hung the Journey of Wrestling Exhibit (you can click on the image below to see the paintings and read more about the exhibit), my hopes are that it will be a catalyst to start the discussion. And soon the tattoo exhibit will go up in celebration of God in the lives of His people.
So while in the intensity of creating that work, I sat in a meeting with a friend in which we came up with an idea for a mural in a downtown Lincoln space called The Pilgrimer (http://thepilgrimer.com/). With only two weeks to First Friday art walk we decided to go forward with the mural by including the community. So starting on March 30 and all that week we invited people who came to The Pilgrimer to write their fear on the wall. Then I went in on Thursday and wrote out the words "You are not alone" all over the wall making a grid to lay down paint. Then on Friday evening the 3rd of April, during First Friday, people who visited The Pilgrimer to listen to the great music also got invited to help paint the wall. Somehow I didn't consider the scope of the project and so I went back the following Monday and Friday to continue work on the wall and will have one more day of painting this coming Friday. Though I didn't know I would be at The Pilgrimer this many days, I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the atmosphere and experiencing what goes on there each day. The space is set up to encourage makers, creatives, and artists to sell their goods as well as a space for gathering for conversation. It is also available for other events. I have enjoyed working on the mural and it will be bittersweet to finish this coming Friday. It has been exciting to give of my time and talent in support of this endeavor. If you are ever in Lincoln, NE stop in at 228 N. 12th and enjoy the atmosphere and a cold coffee toddy. I have overheard many a visitor order one. It has been a whirl wind of activity lately and I am continually overwhelmed at the opportunities God brings my way.
I struggled to titled today's entry as it spans two days, Saturday and today. I also struggled to decided what to call this blog because both days were different --like most days, no two are alike. So we have subtitles
Saturday, "Bustling and Blessings"
Well, Saturday I had planned to work just a few hours while the boys and my husband headed to Crete to see the grandparents and prepare their cars for next week's Awana Grand Prix car race. I was thankful for something for the guys to do while I was painting. Helps ease some of the mommy guilt for the week. After an exhausting Friday, I wasn't sure if I had the energy to be at the mall Saturday. As with most malls, I'm sure, Saturday was quiet until 10:30 and then it was as if someone opened the flood gates and people piled into the space rushing here and there running errands or filling their need for more. In the midst of the bustle -- which was super over-stimulating to this artist, I had a few visits that breathed life into the day. Two were people I work with at Lincoln Berean Church and their families. It was great to have them there to encourage me and to see what I do outside of my work at the church. I also had a visit from a cousin of mine which was encouraging. There were others who stopped to watch me paint black lines around the colors already on the bulb but many just buzzed by as if the bulb was just another seating area or kiosk. I began to have comments like, "I thought you were done already."
"Nope" I would respond with a smile and then explain how the black lines who emphasize the colors. (Which someone did comment on during the work today.) I was keenly aware of how much time some of my walking friends spend at the mall. Many are faithful to walk ever day!
I finally learned the name of another maintenance man at the mall -- even though we've had brief conversations the past three years. A neighborhood woman who recently lost her husband stopped and introduced me to her son and daughter-in-law. And there were many others who tell me stories and share their lives whether related to Lighthouse or not. By 1:30 pm I was ready for coffee and a chat with a good friend before heading home to the boys smelling like a fry-cook.
Monday, "Miracles and Unlimited Time"
So, today's story starts yesterday when my five year old wasn't feeling well because of a cold. Here, I am, usually flexible with schedule and the week I need to finish a project he is sick! It's par for the course, really, and after fretting about it, I finally decided to pray about it. The answer seemed to be to call my mother-in-law. When my husband called, she agreed to come and watch our son so I could paint today. Relieved that it was taken care of I went to bed still praying God would do what only He could. My son was a bit better by bedtime, but I expected his cold to return in full force this morning. Much to my surprise, other than a stuffy nose, he was just fine this morning and had no complaints what so ever so he was able to go to school!
So instead of only getting till 1 pm to paint I got till 3 pm. I very much wanted to get the black lines done today so I started as soon as I arrived at 9 am. The traffic at the mall was super slim today so I was able to work quite a while at a time between talking with folks. I was visited by the mother of a highschool friend of mine. We chatted about how God directs our paths and sometimes uses accidents and diseases to alter our life path and how it causes us to focus on what is really important. I was visited by the neighborhood woman again today and this time we had a longer discussion about our lives and about how faithful God has been and how when we choose to obey His leading He takes us on amazing journeys to challenging and wonderful places that grow and stretch us in big ways. It is true as I have learned to hear His voice and obeyed when He called me, even to the challenging places out of my comfort zone, I see Him in big ways and remember I can't put God in a box. He is able to do so much more than I can imagine and every time I am left speechless. To close out time together, she leaned over the stanchions and gave me a hug. In that moment embrace she prayed for stamina for me and strength for the remainder of the day. The exact prayer I had prayed this morning as I was so tired before leaving the house this morning.
So God brought people I needed at just the right moments today and provided space and time to work. I was 2/3 done by 1 pm and had the lower 1/3 to line. I started praying for God to extend time -- I have experienced Him imparting His limitless time (for God is not bound by time as we are) to me in the past and I prayed for it again today. It was a relentless prayer and during some moments I would stop and talk to people including one of the security guards and then continue back praying for extended time. As 2:30 pm rolled around I still had a bit to go but I kept praying excited to see God do His thing. And as the alarm rang at 3 pm (an alarm so I don't forget to get the kids from school) I was super close to done. I hit snooze -- and 15 minutes later -- DONE! Completely done. The black lines were done. I did one of those pulled in punch "yeses" (or fist pump or yes-fists) Anyway, I was super excited -- God had provided the time to complete the project -- He had stretched the minutes and blessed the hours. The lines were done and my hand was aching BUT it was done! The only thing left -- to clear coat it Wednesday and Friday.
I had so much fun talking with people today about the project, about where the bulbs are going and that there are 50 that will be all over Lincoln between May and October. Many were familiar with projects like this and are looking forward to the auction in October at Haymarket Park. It has been exciting to meet people associated with Lighthouse and to tell people who know nothing about the organization about the amazing work that they do. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my gift of painting with my mall family and use the opportunity to get to know many of them on a little bit deeper level. I have been amazed and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response by those at the mall and those who have watched the process through Facebook. I am thankful for all the comments and all the encouragement along the way. I am blessed to have so many cheerleaders in my corner.
So the hard work is done on this one but I ask that you keep in mind the other artists working on their bulbs at this time. Pray that the sacrifice of their time to create a bulb for this project will help bring awareness and funding to the Lighthouse in Lincoln so more teens can find a safe place during after school hours. And I hope you will enjoy the bulbs this summer as they are out in Lincoln. The one I painted at the mall is to be located at 70th and A streets at Seacrest Park.
What a day at Gateway Mall. I'll be honest, if it weren't for some very special folks I wouldn't have made it through today. I woke up exhausted from the intensity of this week. Not just on the bulb art, but also in my work with artists at Lincoln Berean Church. SO how was I going to make it through today? It was going to have to be the grace of God and the provision of His energy and stamina. I've been praying all week long for energy and stamina and today it was clear a strength other than my own would have to pull me through.
I dropped the boys off at school this morning and headed to the mall. Since I wasn't scheduled to work first thing, I unloaded, set up, and then did my usual three lap walk around the mall. It was nice to move my body before getting to work. I knew that my husband was planning to stop by with lunch so I started working around 10 am. I'd worked a bit when a good walking friend of mine stopped for her daily picture of me working and I watched God provide the first bit of encouraging energy I needed. I was tired and thinking I needed to stop and go get a cup of coffee and my dear friend offered to by me a latte and include an extra shot! WHAT A BLESSING! God heard the need and before I could even ask, He provided. My dear friends interest in my work and her documentation of the process and sharing it with her friends has encouraged me beyond imagination. A special gift.
So, as I continued to work, I stepped off the ladder to take a sip of the much needed latte, I look up and low and behold I see an old co-worker from my days at GPN (Part of NET - Nebraska's Public Television Station). I hadn't seen this lady in a few years so I ducked under the stanchion tape and trekked over to the seating area to have a chat. We reminisced, caught up, and I was introduced to her friend who'd come to the mall to have lunch her. I used to head down to the basement shipping department at NET to visit my friend often when I interned there in college. She was one of those people who became very special to me and helped me learn the ropes. So today God orchestrated the reunion as another encouraging pit stop on the painting journey.
I got back to work and a bit later Jason showed up with lunch. As we sat just steps from the bulb, a couple we sit near during service each weekend showed up just to see the piece. I was dished guff for not "working" when they arrived and told them to "take a lap" and I'd be back at it soon. So after we chatted they left. It was so encouraging to see them and know they had stopped by just to see the piece in person. After Jason left, the couple returned to see me work for just a bit and then my sis showed up. I braked for a bit to chat and it gave me energy and gusto to get back to painting. I was greeted by several on lookers all day -- many full of questions including "Do you have any jeans at home that don't have paint on them." To which I laughed because the only ones that don't are the ones I only where on Sundays or to special events. I met others who knew of Lighthouse or supported their efforts. Met another mother / daughter pair who were able to take advantage of the afterschool programs Lighthouse had to offer. The daughter was older than high school age but she asked me if I thought she could volunteer at Lighthouse to give back for what she had received and I got the opportunity to encourage her to ask if she could volunteer. I was amazed at the encouraging words from passersby. The questions kept coming and I got to meet the mother of another artist working on at bulb for the Lighthouse Project.
I got special visits today from 3 other artists working on bulbs for the project as well as visits from a cousin and her boys, my mother and father-in law and a special friend who serves with me on the Visual Voice Team at Lincoln Berean. These visits, especially my friend helped carry me from 4 pm to 7 pm. I was the most tired during this leg of the journey and the visits were the gifts of encouragement God sent. My friend stayed with me through the completion of the colors on the bulb and we talked and laughed and she even stayed to help me load the van with my supplies. I really don't think I would've made it without her.
So a day I went to bring awareness about Lighthouse and serve the community and related to people turned out to be a day God used to encourage, bless, sustain, strengthen and love on me. I am humbled by days when I head out with Jesus to do as He calls me to do and instead of finding myself giving to or sharing with others, I wind up the one being blessed and served. God knew just what I needed today. He knows what I need tomorrow and He has provided all of this while do what He created me to do -- create art! I am thankful that he has given me this project to work on.
Oh and one final thought of the day. A little girl asked me how long I'd been working on the bulb. As I counted the hours, I came up with approximately 22 - 24 hours to this point. After realizing the amount of time -- I remembered why I don't keep track of how much time it takes cause it's lots of time! But all worth it.
So colors are done and next it outlining.
Another full day of painting went on at Gateway Mall today. Although bitterly cold today I was out at the mall as soon as I'd dropped the boys off at school. I wasn't nearly as nervous today about working but more so about my insurance going through. I've never had to get insurance for working on a piece of art but because it is in a public space I'm getting exposed to the need to have coverage in the event of something terrible happening. I have had a wonderful insurance lady, though, who has busted her hump to get me a great policy even though she has been out of town for a few days. So with that finally settled this afternoon, I feel a little better about leaving the bulb there by her lonesome. Although the bulb is never really alone. I have found working with Gateway Mall to be AMAZING. Brian, head of security, and his team are super and so good at making sure the bulb is safe and making sure I am comfortable. I am so thankful to be working with the staff at Gateway for my first time working publically like this. They have bent over backward for me and are great at coming to see the progress and encouraging me. So thankful to have met them years ago when the boys were in a stroller and along with me for my daily walks. Who would've known that that connection would lead to this. God sure works in mysterious ways.
After, Monday's experience, I couldn't wait to get back to the mall to paint. I was able to distance myself enough yesterday and get other work done but was more than ready to spend the day painting again. As with Monday the first couple of hours were full of my fellow walkers coming to say hello including Shirley who takes many pictures. Shirley is special to me and to my youngest Ian as she and I have walked together 2-3 years already. She brightens my day and is such an encourager. She even brought along a couple of friends today to see the progress. She makes me smile. I also got to talk with a gentleman I met just this year. After our talks on Monday he came back to chat. We discussed how wonderful it is to give to others. He has found his joy in making dozens of Kolache and giving them away. And WOW what a blessing when he brought me one to munch on today -- it was spectacular and reminded me of my grandmother (who was Czech).
I was a bit tired today, but the many "good jobs," "keep up the good work," and "look mom she's painting" seemed to help keep me energized and going strong. There was even a little boy about 2 or 3 yelling "HI" every time he and his dad walked by -- made me laugh and smile every time. Reminded me of my own boys at that age.
I had a special visit from a lady I work with at Lincoln Berean Church -- what a surprise and encouragement to see her and meet her family. Finally, met one of the security guards (by name) today. We've said hello in passing and Monday he told me about his own artistic pursuits and those of his brother and today I finally have a name to got with the face.
An artist I met through another project, stopped and chatted for a bit today and through our conversation, I was reminded of how blessed I am to have a spouse who is SUPER SUPPORTIVE of the calling God has placed on my life to create art and serve at the church in the Visual Arts Ministry. I know there are so many artists out there who are not encouraged by spouses, children, or parents and I have to say I've been gifted with one of the best men. He supports me and is even willing to spend extra money and time to help me afford a heater for the garage (so I'm not working on my other bulbs in the cold), purchase insurance, and help me haul these huge bulbs ALL OVER LINCOLN! I have met several today who but down their creativity long ago. That makes me sad because God has created us all to be creative and for art minded folks creating is SO essential to life. So if you don't have someone who is encouraging you, may I be that voice of encouragement that says "go for it." Be creative -- do that which God has made you to do! Just see what it does for your state of mind and life. It isn't easy to be an artist - especially if you work a "day job," but creating is worth it all.
I also have to say a very special lady stopped by today. What an encouragement! Although her husband died recently she still walks at the mall and she took time to say hello to me today and I was able to share how I pray while I paint and how hours just fade away when I'm working. I have often said that painting is the closest I will ever be to heaven on this earth. There is something amazing about doing that which you've been created to do. I am so thankful that we are all created unique and special and that we all play a role in a greater community. It is becoming ever clearer to me that it takes all of us to make our city and community the best it can be. As I told people about the meaning of the bulb design I was again reminded of this -- that we each need to do our part so that we can accomplish much -- together.
And as I packed up to leave I met an amazing group of Bettys. Yep, they were all named Betty and there is actually a Nebraska Group of Bettys that meet ever year at a conference. That is SO cool. I was even encouraged to start and Ann(e) group. So what do you think fellow Ann(e)s? Again, makes me smile.
So the day is over. It was a good one. Learning so much about people and enjoying everyone I meet and loving sharing Lighthouse and this amazing project with others. So thankful for the opportunity to share. I hope that the time at Gateway will bring more awareness to the amazing work Lighthouse does for Lincoln, NE and how they are affecting lives of Middle and High Schoolers. So thankful for my friend Liz who has supported me working at the mall from the time I presented the idea and for her coming to me and saying, "I'm leading an art project I want you to be an artist on." Again one of those friendships that God has blossomed. (I met Liz while she was taking some classes at UNL in the printmaking studio). What a gift.
So the painting continues on Friday for an extended time -- 11 or noon to 7 pm.
What an amazing day painting the third of my three light bulbs for the Illuminating Lincoln Project. Last night Jason, the boys and I delivered the light bulb to Gateway Mall. We quickly placed it in its temporary home between Riddles and Kay's Jewelry at the far end of the food court. I am painting at the mall to bring awareness to the Illuminating Lincoln Project as well as to Lincoln Lighthouse which provides valuable afterschool programming for middle and high school students here in Lincoln. I was a bit apprehensive to paint but I couldn't have imagined what the day was about to hold!
At about a quarter till 9 this morning I was at the mall hauling in a ladder and paint for a day of painting. After a quick lap around the mall to calm down and center, I was ready to step inside the stanchions and start the piece. What an amazing response the whole day! Much of the first couple of hours was spent conversing with the numerous friends I've made while walking at the mall over the past 10 years. They were excited to learn that I was an artist. And those who knew I was an artist were happy to see me sharing with them what I do. This 2-3 hour timeframe included a young 7 year old artist joining me for about 20 minutes. She drew a picture in my sketch book while I painted on the bulb.
I was amazed at how excited kids where all day about the bulb. They had so much to say and often made their parents stop and watch for awhile.
Off and on all day people stopped by to visit. Some I knew, many I did not. Each conversation important, many very memorable. The interest from people all day was exciting. I even got to meet a lady who attended Lighthouse when she was in high school. She shared some of her story with me and I am hoping she can help me with my second bulb which will share the stories of those who are alumni of Lighthouse. What a God-sent and answer to prayer in the process of bulb #2. I think sometimes when I try so hard to make something work and it doesn't God just smiles. Then I let go and when He provides He smiles again. He knew all along what He had for me, all I needed to do was trust, wait, and watch for Him to provide. Meeting this lady was one of those moments. As she walked away I just chuckled and smiled, "thank you," I said.
I hardly wanted to leave I was having such fun painting. But after 6 1/2 hours it was time to pack it up until Wednesday. I am looking forward to making more progress on the bulb. But what I'm super excited about is talking to all those who stop over to visit.
Schedule for Painting
Wednesday Feb. 18 -- 9 am to 3pm
Friday Feb. 20 -- noon to 7 pm
Saturday Feb. 21 - 10 am to 1pm
Monday Feb. 23 -- 9 am to 3 pm
Wednesday Feb. 25 -- 9 am to 3 pm
Friday Feb. 27 -- noon - 3pm and then again from 6:30 pm to 9 pm
Last fall I submitted three proposals to work on 6' light bulbs for the Lincoln Light house Public Art project. This project benefits the work of Light House, an afterschool program for youth in the city of Lincoln. I was blessed to have all three bulb designs juried in and sponsored SO NOW I'm up to my eyes in light bulbs to finish in April of this year.
I have been super excited to work on the pieces already and have been able to share the limited knowledge I have working with mosaics on the fiberglass resin material of the bulbs with the other artists. I am sensing a great community beginning to form as the artists share with one another about their test materials and how products are working on these sculptures.
I had the great opportunity to spend an afternoon with the kids at Light House last Tuesday as they created their own works of art to go on a Light Bulb I have entitled "Stories of Value." Collaged on the bulb with be stories of the kids and alumni of the program. Although nervous to go work with the kids (I'm somewhat scared of teenagers), the whole atmosphere of the place set my heart at ease. It was like going home. Then to see the staff greet each child as their own with warmth and a reassuring hug. It was amazing! Something truly special is happening at Light House. During the after school program, the youth can study, finish homework, participate in rec time or talk with each other or the staff. Academics and graduating high school are a high priority and I sensed many of the students beginning to discover their dreams and goals beyond high school. They impacted me more than I could've imagined. Whether they knew it or not, many of them accepted me just as they were accepted by the staff. I can't wait to go back again and see the youth and work on more art together.
Another Light bulb I'm working on is going to be painted at Gateway Mall in Lincoln, NE. As I paint almost daily for 2-3 weeks I will be available to answer questions about the project and also about Light House as a whole. I'm excited to have the opportunity to use art as a catalyst to share about creating and making a difference in the lives of others. Not sure on all the details here but will hopefully soon.
As for my mosaic light bulb (as seen above), I'm working hard on it in my garage often having to heat the space several hours before I can get good work time in. Navigating the temperature changes the past weeks has been an adventure to say the least, but I'm excited for the 30 plus degree days ahead. There have also been material challenges too, but it's a good learning process and I've seen the artists on this project as a whole open to sharing which is so sweet.
So light bulbs will continue to fill the garage for the next few months but I am so thankful for a husband who encourages me by letting me take over his side of the space and parking outside so I can work on art.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.