Tag Archives: Art

Searching the (he)ART of Haiti

Searching the (he)ART of Haiti
"Home Is Home"

“Lakay Se Lakay” / “Home Is Home”

When I travel to a country for the first time I usually try to do some homework in preparation for my visit. I love the way that travel brings history, geography, and humanity to life, and provides a deeper understanding of the world. Still, sometimes I visit a place like Haiti, that is so enigmatic and full of surprises, that I realize no amount of advance preparation could have fully primed my understanding of the place. I loved the way Haitian Fashion Designer of Rapadou, Marie Therese Hilaire who goes by “Tetes”, expressed it:

“We have a country that has a feeling, se la pu la, You have to be there to understand it“.

It took less than two hours to fly there from Miami, but could not have felt more worlds away.

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

Packets of fried plantain snacks for sale

The art of any country always provides insightful cultural cues. In a country like Haiti, which is deeply infused with a visual arts culture, it can be a primer into the ethos of the population. Read the rest of this entry

Making It In America at the RISD Museum

Making It In America at the RISD Museum
RISD_Museum-Making_It_in_America1 copy

Photo credit RISD Museum


“To tell a great story about American art is a particularly RISD story”-John W. Smith Museum Director

As the leaves turn to bright colors in New England, and the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the air chills and  the American history that surrounds us is subtly evoked.  Our children study our early history in school this time of year and the RISD Museum in Providence Rhode Island has joined the conversation with their retrospective exhibit entitled Making It In America. Rhode Island School of Design is known for its focus on the making of art, and with this recently opened exhibit, the Museum of RISD outlines how the works of our past remain relevant, and revelatory to the makers of today.

IMG_9622There was a tandem progression of American development and mastery of design that took place early on as settlers and then influences from varying cultures staggered into the country. The craftsmanship and personality of objects seen in furniture styles, and portraiture tell the story with a perspective on how we portray ourselves within the context of the American Dream.

Co-Curators Elizabeth Williams of arts and design and Maureen O’Brien of painting and sculpture collaborated by pulling together pieces from the RISD collection. Together their selections narrate the way in which our American identity evolved through the objects both functional and decorative that were crafted and displayed between the early 1700s and the early 1900s.  The curators then brought in the celebrated decorator and decorative arts historian Thomas Jayne  to really make the objects pop.


Thomas Jayne

Thomas Jayne used his understanding of how important color and pattern were to American design as a context for the geometry of the objects in the space. A number of portraits are mounted on replicas of early American wallpapers that coupled with Rococo frames, as Thomas Jayne put it “makes the Copley’s sing in a way white walls never would”. Thus exhibiting the 18th century paintings in a uniquely pop culture look.

In an exhibit that is as much about opportunity in America as it is the art that came out of those opportunities; the varied experiences are on display, a wood spindle chair remade out of a spinning wheel, set nearby an ornate silver serving piece.  A cabinet by a Finnish immigrant  highlights the varied styles that merged as the cultures did to become a uniquely American style.

Artist Unknown, ca.1700

Artist Unknown, ca.1700

The making of art in America merges with American ambition, but as you walk through the collection you realize the story begins and ends with the Native Americans.  One of the first pieces upon entering the gallery is the Painting entitled Native American Sachem and one of the last is the Paul Manship tabletop bronze pair of sculptures created nearly 200 years later, the Indian and Pronghorn Antelope atop a Frank Lloyd Wright table. The modern architecture of the Chase Center Galleries serves as the canvas for this collection of more than 100 outstanding works of painting sculpture and decorative arts made in between. The exhibit opened on October 11th and will run through February 9th.

Paul Manship, 1885-1966

Paul Manship, 1885-1966

The RISD Museum was established in 1877 “American art has played a central role at the RISD Museum since it’s earliest days, and we celebrate this legacy with Making It In America.- Museum Director John W. Smith

To stay up to date with all RISD Museum happenings Like RISD Museum on Facebook & Follow them on Twitter

Art! Food! Merriment! At Festival Fete

Art! Food! Merriment! At Festival Fete
Art! Food! Merriment! At Festival Fete

festival fete

One of the things we love about Rhode Island is the amazing art scene, and this weekend one of my favorite local events is taking place. Festival Fete  is an art festival featuring local artists, performers, and food vendors that bring together community to celebrate the arts. It is a two day event full of music, entertainment, free crafts for kids, Artists, and  local vendors.


The mission of Festival Fete is: to offer a platform for local artists — of various mediums and levels — to show their work. In collaboration with community talent, volunteers and sponsors, to create profitable platforms that celebrate locally grown art, food and merriment.

“This is not your grandmother’s Art Festival!” is used as one of the festival’s tag lines, and certainly prepares you  a bit for the 10 foot costumed Big Nazo creatures roaming amongst the vendor tents.  Today we were charmed by painters and jewlers, bakers and popcorn-makers, and children selling their art.  Women twirling rolling pins and covered in flower danced through the crowd to the music of their band, and tee-shirts were sold recycled as skirts along side organic laundry care by Yore.  This festival is all about community, great art and supporting the arts.  the Rock Climbing Wall donates 1/2 of it’s profit  to  ArtIsSmart, and Smashing Photo Booth donates the entire fee charged for photos.

Art Is Smart serves children by raising funds to support public education art programs. We produce and sell AIS merchandise, hold fundraising events, and direct 100% of corporate and individual donations to public school art teachers who request funding via a short, specific letter outlining what they need funding for and how much. A simple and straightforward process for raising and distributing funds, Art Is Smart is based on pure passion for the arts.

art2Even young artists in the community are given a chance to shine. The booth for them is free and in return they donate 10% of their proceeds to the ArtIsSmart program.  David created the Festival along with his wife Jennifer, and says that grants are provided to nurture art programs in Rhode Island public schools where sometimes the budget for art supplies is zero. “Some schools with no budget for art supplies will come to us with requests for the most basic supplies such as paper and colored pencils.” says David. Over the past year thousands of dollars in grants went to funding basic art supplies for Rhode Island public schools.


We learned about the award winning art program riverz edge arts  which is a really cool program that took part in the festival.  It serves as a social enterprise where professional artists serve as mentors, guiding youth through their arts education in an environment that stresses hands-on learning, teamwork, mutual respect, and responsibility. At one of the booths I fell in love with the great logos on the Lotus Life tee-shirts that read “Create Yourself” and  “She Believed She Could So She Did”.  The sun came out to shine down on the festivities driving us to get refreshment at nearby Pinkberry frozen yogurt, where they also were donating proceeds from their sales to Art is Smart. The festival will be at Garden City  June 8th & 9th from 10am – 5pm,  since proceeds for many of the activities go to charity, you don’t have to feel guilty about going both days if you want. It’s all in the name of Art!

Portrait of Mommy

Portrait of Mommy

Portrait of me by my daughter "yelling about the messy playroom"

I think of myself as a pretty laid back mom, and by nature I’m not a yeller, so years back when my oldest daughter returned from art class with a portrait of  me looking like a screaming maniac, I was sure there must have been a mistake.  She took the class with three friends, and there was some confusion over whose portrait was whose.  Three were of serene smiling mothers, and then there was this.  One of the other moms actually was a yeller, so I knowingly looked around the group and told them I though there was a mix up.    My daughter cleared the air by confirming that it was in fact her portrait of me yelling about the messy playroom.  Of course as I slunk away I told her I loved it, and commended her on her originality.  I sincerely meant both compliments, but a part of me caught the first glimpse of how she saw me through her child’s lens, and I had to laugh.  Sure I am a laid back person, and I swear am not a yeller, but many a mom has caught herself losing her cool at her kids about something, and then thinking “who is this raving lunatic the kids are turning me into? This is so not me!”  This portrait just may be my favorite piece of artwork that hangs in our home; it forces me to laugh at myself every time I see it.

I was harder hit a year later when in the same week my daughter brought home a family crest where I was represented by a mop and pail, and my son brought home a cute Mother’s Day card where he finished the sentence “My mother loves to…..” with “wash the dishes“.


As disheartening as these depictions of me were I knew that they were completely honest, innocent assessments.  I thought back to how I viewed my own mother as a kid, and from what I remember,  I was only vaguely aware of her as a woman outside of her role as my mom. The first time I recall feeling deep pride and admiration for her accomplishments was when we were writing the text for our wedding invitations, and I realized that as a Ph.D. her proper title was “Dr.” not “Mom”. I guess it took me a while, and still it wasn’t until after I had my own children that I could truly appreciate her in full.   I can’t expect my kids to see me other than through the paradigm of their childish inner world.  Most kids by nature are egocentric creatures.   Most of the time my kids perceptions of me serve as moments of humility, but they can just as easily put me on a pedestal like no one else can.   I have to laugh at the truth in their observations, because no commentary is as candid as a child’s.  This recent portrait of me by my youngest son is a new favorite.  Here he managed to capture the essence of me in the morning with perfection. Certainly this is how I feel before that first cup of coffee.  The funny ones are my favorites, but every now and then a piece of art comes home that just melts my mommy heart into a puddle, and that is the power of kids art.



(I had to throw in this one where I am listed as 6' tall and 100 pounds)