Archive for the ‘Autobiographical’ Category

It’s so out of my comfort zone to create art somewhere other than my studio.  I know how that might sound, but I’m a Taurus and we like our home environment.  I work on that.  I had an awesome opportunity to stretch myself and my perspectives this past May with a week-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

I had the opportunity to work with the VSC staff and take a tour of the place before the residency began.  When I was led into one example of a studio room that I might be assigned while attending, I was stunned.  I asked if I would be working in that type of space alone, and were all the studios that large.  To my surprise this was so.  To go from a small studio of about 100 square feet at my modest home, to a huge 250 to 300 square foot space on the campus of an internationally known artist center is quite mind-blowing.  I was thrilled and terrified.  A natural response I suppose.

I had been given some great advice from other artists who had done this residency before.  Being that it was only a week, a plan for what I wanted to work was hatched, supplies and materials gathered, and I brought extra canvas and boards in case those Muses ran amuck with me.

The first day or two I was in slight freak-out mode, and I suspect that I was not the only one.  It’s quite exciting and frightening to have an entire week of unfettered time that you can choose to devote to art 24-7.  VSC is a place that not only provides the space and meals in an incredibly supportive environment, but they also know that everyone finds their own unique way into the creative process.  So you can spend as much or as little time in your studio as you want.  But no one wants to waste that precious time and space.  For me, I have a habit of needing to settle in before getting to work.  I have to arrange my space just so, which some could see as a type of procrastination, but it works for me.

I’m happy to say that I did accomplish my goals and more.  I had deliberately let go of any silly attachments to needing to complete a piece, which also helped me relax into the creative process.  I had a specific piece in mind to work on, and my main goal was to work in a much larger scale than I have ever done.

I found that I had the most wonderful balance of time in my studio space, time to connect and converse with other amazing and interesting artists, and time to meditate which always helps to spark my relationship with my Muses.  Let me tell you, there were lots of Muses at VSC, both physical and non-physical.

I’m sharing some photos of me working in my studio space, taken by my VSC alumnae friend, Zoe Barracano.  I’m so happy she was willing to take time from her projects to help me do some visual documenting of this incredible experience.  See her work here.

I had some amazing conversation with fellow artists and writers.  I stretched myself beyond what I was hoping for, and I discovered new ways to articulate my relationship to color.  I’ll save that intriguing topic for a new post in the near future.

In the meantime, the summer has been filled with adventures in bringing accessibility to the arts, and I hope to bring more people with disabilities into the arts as they become more accessible.  I’m quite excited to be in the 20th annual Art Hop in the South End of Burlington.  My work will be hanging at VCAM, 208 Flynn Avenue, and also at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery at 266 Pine Street.

Hawaiian Dream was started at VSC  and is hanging up at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery for the entire month of September.  The photo of the finished work was taken by Dan Lovell.  Hawaiian Dream is 30 by 22 inches and features a colorful landscape of shoreline in the foreground, a watery swath across the lower half, with mountainous landscape on the opposite shoreline.  Mountains rise up in gradations of texture and color, depicting a range of distant peaks.  The landscape was done with a combination of cellulose and paper clay with acrylics.  The piece is very textural and features bright colors of greens, yellows, blues, and touches of white and purples.

And please check out my new look on my website where I’ve had a makeover.  I also have a new gallery section with more photos of my latest artwork.

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Healing Work

I’ve enjoyed teaching my first level 2 class from the School of Earth Centered Healing; Healing Our Energetic Connection with Mother Earth.  Students have been learning about the  Earth’s energy system, how to dowse for Earth’s energy lines, and are connecting with all kinds of nature spirits.  We have enjoyed the summer weather in our outdoor classes as we learn to relate to our Earth in deeper ways.  One of our themes is understanding that what happens with the Earth’s body, is very much like what goes on with our own bodies.

I will be returning to teach level 1, The Energetics of Self-Care, in October.  For more information, please e-mail me.   I’ll be posting more info on dates and times later in September.



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My life has been absorbed with art, art, and more art — and the business of art.  In February the Engage Exhibit, a juried show of Vermont artists with disabilities, debuted at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery in Burlington.  This show will continue on as it travels around the state.  Engage will be opening at the Catamount Arts Center in St. Johnsbury on July 20.  I’ve been honored to be one of the juried artists in this show and to be offering consulting services on making Engage a true model of disability access in the arts.  See VSAVT.org for more details.

I continue to create art with healing and spirit in differing forms.  I recently attended Vermonters Week at the Vermont Studio Center which was a fantastic experience to work in a large studio space, connect with 60 other fabulous Vermont artists and enjoy not having distractions of mundane life.  What a gift, and I will be sharing more on this experience later.

Two events are coming up… Firstly, I will be participating in the 20th annual Open Studio weekend, along with 2 other talented artists, Kristin Richland and Lynn Powers.  We will all be hanging out at Kristin’s Sweet Enemy Art Studio from 10 to 5 on May 26 and 27.

I am selling my vegetable bling jewelry, new nature spirit figurines, and many pieces of colorful textured art.

Lynn works in a variety of media, including beautiful watercolor, photography, and she even recycles paper pulp into these painted bowls.

Kristin paints all manner of odd creatures and ghostly beings.

After all the joyous hullabaloo of Memorial Day weekend, I will be returning to teaching classes from the School of Earth Centered Healing. Individual and group classes are available for level 1 the Energetics of Self Care.  I will be offering a Level 2 class this summer — Healing Our Energetic Connection with Mother Earth.  I am hosting an open house event for anyone who is interested.  Sunday, June 17 from 1:30 to 3 PM.  This Open House is free, but you must rsvp to attend.

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InformationLimited Mobility AccessibleAssistive Listening SystemsSign Language InterpretationLarge PrintBrailleAccess to Low VisionAudio Description for TV, Video and Film

Last year my friend and esteemed colleague Judy Chalmer of VSA Vermont told me about an exciting project she and others were  planning.  The project was to produce an exhibit of juried artwork by Vermont artists with disabilities.  That kind of exhibit in and of itself sounds big, but it was the overarching process of the show that took on a life of its own.  Immediately upon hearing about it, I jumped in and said YES!… and I want to be involved.  Then I took a breath and said could I apply to be in this show?  Judy, of course, said yes to that and off we went.

Over the course of the spring and summer, we had some conversations about the process of developing the exhibit.  A title was selected that fit so perfectly — Engage. The engagement aspect speaks to all of the hard work that went into finding venues, planning for all kinds of accommodations and disability access, and making this event a real cultural event that everyone  would want to come to.

A Call to Artists went out in August, and I became more involved with some of the planning.  First, I asked Judy to come on to my public access TV show to talk about Engage and the call to artists.  Judy and I had many, many more conversations about the exhibit which always seem to inspire both of us.  As part of the Call to Artists, VSA recognized that one of the barriers to artists with disabilities is that of not having a digital portfolio.  I’ve struggled with that myself.  The economic reality of having my artwork digitally photographed in a high quality manner in time to submit to a jury seems nearly impossible for me.  And many others as well.  So one of the accommodations was that VSA set up a day for artist to come have their work photographed at no cost to the artist.  We all received  a CD of our work, and a CD was also sent to the jury.  Artists were also asked to fill out an application which was available in a variety of accessible formats anyone could want.  It was such an easy process to follow for me.

However, it was not without fear and trepidation that I went forth and applied to the jury.  I’ve never participated in a juried show and I had no idea what to expect.  So when I made my appointment to have my work photographed, I asked about the process.  Paul Gruhler, the show curator, was very warm and welcoming in his explanations.  But I knew that this was a selection process and there were no guarantees that any of my work would be selected.  So I had my work photographed, I filled out the online application, and said a few prayers.  Then I made a deep commitment to myself that no matter what happened with my application, I would support this show in whatever means I could.

Soon after I submitted my application Judy asked me to attend an audio description training.  The concept of audio description was not new to me.  As a blind person, I’ve enjoyed audio description of movies many times.  But audio description for an art exhibit was new and intriguing.  I’ve visited art galleries and shows with an artist friend or 2 and they have done a fair job of describing works to me, and artists themselves often love describing their work as well, but to an average non-artist person, I’m sure the task would seem rather daunting.

This training was a 3 day event.  The first day was to introduce the concept to as many local arts organizations as would be interested.  The plan was to get people thinking about accessibility in their own galleries and show rooms.  One of the missions of Engage is to be a model for communities on how to create a truly universally accessible art show.  I was asked to speak as part of a panel of blind and visually impaired guests on what our experiences with the arts has been like, the accessibility and what worked and didn’t work for us.  We were a panel of 4 with very diverse views and experiences.  Some had not been interested in the arts, but had experienced some audio description, some had a deeper interest in the arts and not only enjoyed good experiences with the audio description, but we were hungry for more conversation about the arts.  So we gave our local arts organizations much to think about, most likely opening their eyes to the fact that some of us blind folks would like to know what is in their gallery, and have more conversations about the arts.

The following 2 days were focused on training for a small group of volunteers who met with our fantastic trainer Celia Hughes from VSA in Austin, Texas.  I served as the eager tester for the 5 women who wanted to be describers for Engage.  I gained quite a lot of wisdom in the nuts and bolts of how to do description of pieces of art, and I’ve begun to translate that on to my friends as we venture into various galleries and exhibits.

The other benefit for me was that much of the training was about practicing those core skills that Celia was teaching and that meant there were lots of images of well-known works of art to describe.  Having 5 people practicing their skills on me, with all this artwork was a little like an all-you-can-eat buffet, I wanted more and more, until I was so full I couldn’t take in anymore.  It was an inspiring 3 days for all of us and for different reasons.  I came away feeling very inspired to help others learn these skills, and really excited about how arts organizations are opening up to the concept of accessibility in such incredibly welcoming ways.

A week later, I found myself with Judy Chalmer on an audio described tour of the Shelburne Museum, a place that I’d never been before.  The Museum was new to audio description and had partnered with a group of blind consumers to create a few tours that were focused on specific collections and aspects to the Museum.  Shelburne Museum is quite large and spread out over a lovely landscape.  Imagine 25 blind and visually impaired folks with a few sighted assistants grouped together with a handful of Museum staffers as our guides.  I must say, I was impressed by the staff’s endurance.  By the end of the afternoon, many of us were feeling a bit overwhelmed, but pleased with the tour and all of the efforts the staff had made to create accessibility.  Interesting to note that I returned a week later to the museum with one friend and spent the day touring by ourselves and had a completely different and even more inspiring experience.

Over the course of the next 4 and a half months, I continued to have conversations with Judy Chalmer and Paul Gruhler, and many others about Engage.  I was deeply influence by the trainings and my visits to galleries and museums and I began to think about how I could support accessibility by becoming an accessibility consultant.  I rather hesitantly approached Judy about this notion, and was met with enthusiastic support.  This is one of those byproducts of Engage that was not foreseen, nor planned for, but meant to be,.

In November I was informed that a piece of my artwork had been selected by the jury for the Engage Exhibit.  Needless to say, I was over the moon about that.  Paul also reminded me at the time that the jury was a panel of artists who were given copies of the digital images we submitted, but not given our names, disability information, or any personal data.  These selections were made solely on the merits of our work.

This is a concept that I really want to emphasize and fully explain its true meaning.  I’m always redirecting my perceptions to take a broader view, look at the positive side and not focus on a sense of victimhood.  But no one living with a disability can escape the frustration of being misunderstood or undervalued in this world.  We have the power within ourselves to redirect that, but we are constantly exposed to these misperceptions.  So we walk a thin line to be part of our communities, who don’t always see the value we offer.  This is the paradox we deal with daily.

As people with disabilities, we are judged by our conditions, the perceptions of limitations and our society’s definition of what normal is.  Many of us somehow find our way through life, working through these misperceptions, as well as our own self misperceptions.  Hopefully we can come to create our identity from a deeper more heart-centered place, rather than the perceptions of limitation.  That makes all the difference in daring to dream, daring to create goals and intentions for ourselves and what we want our lives to be like.  Whether the world around us sees our value and strength is a constant question.

So for the first time in my life, here was an opportunity to put my work out into the world, without the attachment of limiting perceptions.  At first I didn’t quite get that.  It was such a foreign concept to me that it took a while to sink in.  It was not until well after I found out that the jury had accepted my work, that I really got that they accepted my work because it was good and worthy to be in the exhibit, not because I was a nice blind lady.  This has been a huge shift for me, and I think, for many of our Engage artists as well.  We can truly say that we have broken through a barrier.  And I think the flood gates are open now, and arts organizations as well as the art-loving public are beginning to truly see us and the value we hold for the community.

Within Engage, we find the paradoxes of disability intersecting in the most creative and lovely ways.  We’ve created a process that offers accessibility for everyone without labels and barriers, and a way for the greater community to engage with us beyond the conversation of limitation.  From start to finish the process of creating this show, has been truly engaging.  It absolutely lives up to its name.

To listen to VSA Vermont’s Engage audio tour from anywhere, dial 802-622-3084. Listen to the instructions. A complete list of stop numbers is available and can be downloaded in large print format (PDFMicrosoft Word) as well.

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Engage Exhibition:

A Statewide Exhibition of Artwork by Vermont Artists with Disabilities

VSA Vermont presents Engage, a juried exhibition featuring Vermont artists with disabilities
February 26 – April 29, 2012 at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Opening Reception: February 26, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Admission: Free



InformationLimited Mobility AccessibleAssistive Listening SystemsSign Language InterpretationLarge PrintBrailleAccess to Low VisionAudio Description for TV, Video and Film

Please contact VSA Vermont with accessibility and accommodation requests. Call 802-655-7772. For relay call 711. Or write info@vsavt.org. Visit our website www.vsavt.org.

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A slideshow of my latest work…

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Many Gratitudes

I can’t believe August, and the entire summer is winding down.  Where the heck did the time go?  I have many things to say about this summer, but much of it is summed up in the word “gratitude.”

Firstly, I’m so grateful that my little corner of Vermont suffered very little damage from Irene.  I continue to send prayers and healing energy out to all those who have not been that fortunate.  Vermont has seen vast amounts of water this year, and I would dearly love to send some of it down to those drought-ridden places like Texas.

Here’s another thing that I am grateful for — several amazing opportunities to share my artwork.  Currently I am exhibiting at Artists’ Mediums in their Harvest Show.  Also I just hung artwork for the South End Art Hop in Burlington, which is a big deal for me.  Hundreds of artists are showing work for Art Hop on September 9 and 10.  I’m so fortunate to be in a space where my work will hang for the whole month.  Come on down on September 9 from 5 to 9 PM.  I’ll be there.

And another bit of gratitude, a tremendous opportunity happened quite by accident early this spring.  I realized that joining my local CSA was just not going to be possible for me this year, for several reasons.  So one day I found myself whining about that with my pool buddy. Yes, I was whining.

Two days later, while back in the pool, she announced to me that she and her partner would be more than happy to offer me a small garden space in their yard and they would grow some veggies for me.  Wow, what an incredibly generous and valuable thing to offer.  Together we planned what would be planted and I bought plants and tomato cage, and off we went.  Of course we had no idea what the yield would be like with the spring floods having dowsed many of our local crops.

I’m so happy to report that the yield has been a lovely, steady abundance of greens, snow peas, string beans, tomatoes, carrots and various herbs.  Nothing like the freshness of your own produce!  But my abundance overflowed when a neighbor announced to me that she had planted extra plants, including one eggplant patch, just for me.  So it’s been a very marvelous yield.  I’ve even been freezing produce for the upcoming winter.

This time of year always gets me into the kitchen, where the culinary muses take ahold of me and the sauces begin flying.  I cannot think of a deeper, richer gift than to share the gift of food, not only at the kitchen table, but also from our partnerships with people who grow our food, and the Earth herself.

Many thanks!!

Please join me in continued prayers and energy healing to all those people and areas who have been devastated by hurricane Irene.

Please note that I will resume teaching healing classes this fall, and take advantage of this special offer:

Twenty percent off on Healing sessions with Gwendolyn.  Come for an energetic tune up with hands-on, crystal and gemstone essence energy for health, stress reduction and total well-being.  Mention this offer when you call for an appointment.  Good through October 31st.

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I continue to teach my Level 1 class from the School of Earth Centered Healing.  It’s been a nice steady pace of students participating in the Energetics of Self Care.  In this class I enjoy teaching people how to play with stones and rocks, in order to find a deeper healing connection.

It always amazes me at how often people will tell me that they have no experience in working with the energy of rocks or crystals, but later on in conversation they mention they have rocks all over their house.  And so it begins… the opening of a doorway to working with and communicating with crystal energy.

It’s all quite playful, as healing doesn’t need to be so serious that it blocks our ability to lighten up.  As we form relationships in unique ways to the stone kingdom, we find that working with energy beings is really easier than we thought.  I’m always learning something new from them.

I find that it has been helpful to have a guide to the energetic properties of stones, but these  are only guides and cannot articulate the complex characteristics incorporated into each stone.  I have kept a running list of the metaphysical properties of stones, and add on to this list as I find a new stone or a new aspect of its energy to add in.  I can’t possibly remember all this information, so having a list with my own notes and experiences helps my healing work.

I also use dowsing to help me determine what stones I will use for a particular issue.  At times, stones do speak to me, or I get clear messages from my guides to indicate which stones I should be working with.  Other times I grab the pendulum and start asking.  If it is a particular issue, I may look up that issue in my guide list, gather up the stones in my collection that fit that particular issue and begin dowsing to see which of my personal stones I should be working with.  A brilliant example of this just manifested itself and seemed like a good one to share.

So for various reasons, sleep has been an issue for me this past week.  I had been working with a student that day, and in the evening I found myself picking up the various stones we had played with. I was going to clear them all to make sure the energy of each was purified.  I had used a particular piece of calcite and just because I was drawn to it, I looked up its properties and found that it could aid in restful sleep.  So I decided to create a crystal healing pouch to aid me in having a deep restful and restorative sleep.  I looked up a few more stones, began clearing all the stones and then dowsed to see which stones would be most helpful in working with my intention.  Since I had a clear intent, I knew my dowsing would reveal which stones would carry the proper vibrations to aid in my rest.

I dowsed four stones to work with me – white calcite, honey calcite, blue lace agate and amethyst.  Each stone carries unique properties that  corresponded with issues I had been experiencing.  I made sure to program these stones with my intent, placed them in a pouch and slipped that under my pillow about a half hour before going to bed.  I then slept for a solid 8 hours, without interruption.  It had been at least a week since I had had such a lovely uninterrupted rest and I was grateful.

These particular stones may not work for someone else’s sleep issues.  There can be a variety of factors that may be impacting insomnia, and if I just researched my list for all the stones that  help with sleep issues, I might not have gotten the same results.  That’s where dowsing and paying attention to the intuitive knowing comes in.  Be as clear as possible with your healing intention and then ask for the appropriate healing stones to be revealed.

The stone/crystal kingdom want to connect and aid humans in our quest for higher consciousness.  One lesson they teach me, is that the activity of play is necessary in our development.

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