Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tribute to Thanksgiving (2013)

Thanksgiving never gets its proper MOMENT with Christmas holidays making its debut earlier every year. December is the month for Gift Wrappers but I wanted to give Thanksgiving its due recognition. Happy Thanksgiving with gratitude to my family, friends, dog Rue and fans of wrapping!  Special thanks to my husband Doug who is working hard overseeing construction so that I can have my studio back in December.  

                      So nice to have the family all together again. Back home for the holidays... 

Keeping my table centerpiece simple 
My temporary Wrapping Studio sharing space with the dining room

Thank you to Aileen for the beautiful dried flowers!
They were on my table but found its way on a gift box of simple thoughts of gratitude.
Thanks to Shirley for the fabulous crumpled art paper! 

Artful Reflection with Students from Africa

(November 3-23 2013) Reconnecting with Ayusa and UC Berkeley's Center for Cities and Schools YPlan Youth Leadership Program, I was invited to work with students and teachers from Africa (Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso).  My job was to help students create an artful portfolio connected to their leadership curriculum.  

In my world, this translated to an opportunity to package intentions and share the value of hands on, artful reflection to deepen and offer meaning to experience.  It was a dream assignment to work together with my former A team (Deb, David, Shirl, Natsumi, Jessie-thank you!) and critical new member of the group- Peace Corps alumni, African culture and french language interpreter, talented facilitator Sean Cochrane. 

Instructor Natsumi shared a wonderful article by Jessica Lahey in the Atlantic that captured the precise meaning of what I wanted to achieve here- to embody the message the article suggests:

"Access is not synonymous with learning. 
Every external pressure, social and technological, is pushing students in the other direction, 
toward immediacy, rapidity, and spontaneity—and against this other kind of opportunity. 
I want to give them the permission and the structures to slow down.”

Working with the students who not only had limited exposure to art as a medium for reflection but also who never had much previous experience in paper folding, cutting and composing repurposed materials in this way, became a mutually inspiring experience.  (I learned there is an average of 80-100 students per classroom back home- wow! This undoubtedly proposes inherent challenges.)  

I was struck by the students' boldness and their immediate willingness to experiment. They all had an affiliation for color and bold patterns. Their work had a vibrancy and energy that was so uniquely their own.  Representations of camels, home country flags, large mango trees and tents reflected "place memories" of their environment in Africa.  Fabulous!  This observation expanded my own creative repertoire in such a big way. I would love to see one day the kind of materials available and utilized in Africa.

What transpired from this artful dialogue with the students was an emotionally charged series of portfolio books symbolically articulating what was taught and learned on the YPlan Leadership Roadmap. It showcased everyone's hopes, dreams and aspirations. Their creative pages on Africa resonated such a strong, powerful love and loyalty for African heritage. The reward for me came out of the process itself and what it revealed: a transformational soulful journey of each student communicating a deep commitment to make a difference as leaders of change (cheers to YPlan) in their home communities.  

Really enjoyed my time with the teachers and students from Africa! 

Teaching my students the art of paper folding:
A 16 point star to represent their "community of practice"-
the people who will support the students  in their action plans. 

Oakland Museum of California
My daughter Mel brought home made cookies and helped me in the Art Room.
Thanks Mel! Always nice to connect high school students with one another. 

Asking everyone to make a personal handprint collage
 on their Action Plan Page

Our Awesome Team: Creative Director Shirl, Instructor Natsumi
and African Culture and French Language Interpreter Sean!
Thank you for the continuous advocacy for Artful Reflection! 
Special Thank You to friends Jeanne Allen and Marc Grant
for the invitation to visit the Fashion Incubator in San Francisco
Will miss my students!!  They were lovely!
Thank you for teaching me about Africa. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Art of Recology

I was fortunate to be en route to Portland when I discovered The Art of Recology Exhibit at
San Francisco International Airport Terminal 3.  I heard it unfortunately ended but I hope it will make the rounds in more public spaces.  It was fantastic!

"Recology San Francisco believes art has the power to influence behavior and hopefully inspire new ways of thinking about resource conservation and sustainability."
–Deborah Munk, Director
Artist in Residence Program and Environmental Learning Center, Recology San Francisco
One of my favorite pieces in The Art of Recology Exhibit
made from old telephone books
There is a gift wrapping idea here somewhere

My friend Tracy inspires a similar idea with folded books!
Love what you did here!  
More of Tracy's creations!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Birthdays

Not sure what it is about the winter months but it definitely facilitated many fall birthdays in my life circle (including dogs) 

My dog Rue turned three along with three of her other dog friends
Herby and Mocha who celebrated fall birthdays.
Dogs get wrapped presents too around here. 

Chicken Jerkey for Rue from her dog friend Herby
Fresh Homemade Chicken Treats for Rue
from her dog friend Mocha

Dog Cupcakes for Mocha
Happy Birthday

Dog Treats for Rue and her friends
 homemade by her "Mom" -thats me.

The Book "A Letter to My Dog" is a must read. It shares
personal stories of how dogs have touched the lives of their owners.
I gave it to my brother who lost his beloved Siberian Husky this year. 
Mocha, Rue and Herby at Fort Funston

My daughter Maddie turned 18 and her friend Paige 
sent her 18 gifts with 18 memories attached. 
Loved this idea. Wish I thought of it myself.

18 Gifts and 18 Memories to Share


My son Michael is a September baby.
It won't be the same without him having one of
my repurposed bows to mark the occasion!

Michael Turning 21
celebrating at Marc Hopkins Hotel
San Francisco

Gifts from Unexpected Places

A huge box arrived unexpectedly from a childhood friend (we met in first grade) who read about
the house fire on my blog.  Out came piles of sewing pattern paper, threads, string, papers, notions and all things repurposed to replenish what I lost.  I was so emotionally overwhelmed!  No wrapping but pure good, heartfelt intentions.  I want to somehow bottle that feeling I felt when I opened the box and capture and infuse those emotions into my wrapping.  How can this be consistently achieved?  Wish I can be a conduit to bestow that kind of emotion to people - will be a lifelong attempt.  Thank you to my friend June who so captured the essence of a true gift.  I am slowly getting my things back and putting my studio back in order now in time for the holidays.

for a gift that truly touched my heart!

My First Grade Class Photo
Can you guess where I am? Third Row 5th over.
My friend June is in the Second Row5th over.
Thanks for sending this June.
I loved first grade and so glad I met you!