New Exhibit! My work is being featured in Virginia!
The Artist in Residence featured in
The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Many of you know I use the healing power of art at Inova Schar Cancer Institute and for the Smith Center for Art and Healing. I wanted to invite you to see the exhibit currently at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Fairfax Virginia. The address is 8081 Innovation Park Dr, Fairfax, Virginia 22031. The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery is on the second floor to the right of the escalator past the café and the gift shop.
The exhibit, curated by Shanti Norris, shares the work of the visual artists in the Artist in Residence Program at Inova Schar Cancer Institute. The featured artists all were a part of the pioneer program that were trained by Shanti Norris and Scott Stoner in 2018 to use the healing power of art with cancer patients. We continue to work together with our team at Inova, in fact, the program was such a success it has spread to different Schar institutes and has impacted thousands of people.
Throughout my time with The Smith Center for Healing and the Arts and Inova Schar, I have had the honor to work with heroes, both the patients themselves, but also the caregivers and medical staff. This exhibition’s focus is on our why. Both our why as artists and our why as to why we have answered this calling to use our gifts for healing and outreach. I am honored to be on a team of incredible visual artists, fabric artists, musicians, storytellers, movement artists and poets.
What's My Why?
Presenting Artist from the Artist in Residence Team
The AIR Program was founded on the belief that every human being is born with the instinct and ability
to reflect upon and represent themselves in the world through some form of creative Expression.
In the spirit of creativity, as an inevitable human trait, we asked our AIR Artist to contemplate
and manifest their own creative spark in one or more pieces of work exhibited here
To consider-whether a painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, knitter or other visual arts creative: Why Do I Create?
Artists: Tiffany Carmouche, Hillaire Henthorne, Monica Savasta, Ilene Gast,
Turner Houston, Susan Snell, Sandi Goldman, Tinu Prakash, and Scott Stoner.
Art has a way of creating harmony out of dissonance. We often need to tune out
the chaotic, the negativity, the outside forces that cause us turmoil, sadness, or
cause us pain. There is a beautiful balance between being aware and connected
with your surroundings, seeing the beauty in the world and in people, and in
tuning out what doesn’t serve you. I have found art, creativity, and nature to be a
sanctuary that has helped me through some traumatic times in my life.
Sometimes as I create art, I get into that flow state, the world disappears around
me and I am able to just be in the present moment, nothing else matters but the
harmony in this moment in time, and I have found that to be so cathartic. When I
realized the transformative power of art in myself, I began sharing the practice
using a variety of the arts in workshops and on my retreats with people
overcoming trauma. Some workshops I use my sculptures and art to promote
discussions. Art has a way of deepening conversations.
I became an Artist in Residence after getting the news that one of my favorite
cousins had brain cancer. News I did not want to hear. As you will notice Harmony
does not have one of her ears. She, like myself, wants to be deaf to the pain, to
loss, to turmoil, and sometimes would like to disappear, but she is unwilling to
disconnect from humanity. She has not given up even though life can seem unfair.
With her other ear she is able to hear the laughter, the music, the world around
her. And she finds joy.
As an Artist in Residence, I use the healing power of art as I form profound
connections. I have laughed with patients, cried with patients and each encounter
is so unique it is treasured. We are each an instrument, and through our
individual plight and lived experiences and connections, as we create, we are also
creating a harmony that is so beautiful. It is truly such an honor.
Why am I an artist? My hero. I watched my mother create all my life. This
watercolor painting was inspired by the work of my mother, Willa Jean
Carmouché Callen, an incredible artist. Among her beautiful artwork, she painted amazing magnolias, many of which decorate the walls of my home. On her birthday, a few years after her passing, I began this painting using her artwork of a magnolia for inspiration in her memory. The hummingbird, and the butterfly, emerged from the paper as if to remind me, she is still with me. The texture in the butterfly symbolizes the beauty that transcends our reality, is still interwoven into our everyday, as long as we keep the memory alive.
This painting became a symbol of sacred moments and all the loved ones who will never be forgotten. Loved ones who helped shape who I am today. Memories of carefree childhood trips to New Orleans with my loving parents and siblings, sipping southern sweet tea under the majestic magnolia tree bring a smile to my face. Art, music, vibrancy, virtues, philosophy, southern kindness and memories of loved ones, full bellies and full hearts. Many loved ones as my parents installed in me the importance of kindness, creativity and cultivating a life that touches others.
Cherished moments...the Forget Me Nots symbolize memories that have etched themselves in the fabric of time. Much like many of the patients, caregivers and staff here at Inova Schar. Over the years I have created art and gotten to know so many patients and their families. The patients I work with constantly inspire me. This flower symbolizes dignity, spirituality, and peace and reminds me to breathe and to just be.
The magnolia tree is very strong. The flower’s meaning symbolizes virtues I yearn to embody, nobility, and perseverance. The flower is a reminder we are each a masterpiece. Fossils date back 20 million years showing that the flower has been gracing the earth since the beginning of time symbolizing, yes… our legacy. I truly believe together we can make a beautiful world.
Magnolias and Memories
Ember is a reminder that even the times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed, broken and sometimes consumed by darkness because of circumstances out of our control, we possess an inner light. I have used my art and artistic outreach as a way to rebuild my own strength and to help others heal in their journey through
trauma and pain, stress and turmoil. Creating art helps me calm my soul and expand my own capacity to endure.
In Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold to seal the cracks, is a beautiful metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections.
In my piece, however, I realized sometimes we are not ready to be put together - sometimes it is okay to accept our brokenness as we are right now and allow our inner light to shine through the brokenness. Even in our darkest times we can find that spark of light within ourselves. Sometimes it is a tiny ember but digging deep
and finding that inner light can offer hope. The gold reminds us of our brilliance in each season of our life. Not just to hold us together, but it is our inner essence. It is who we are.
Sometimes hope is creating artwork with someone or noticing the beauty in the subtle things in the world around us-a butterfly flitting by, someone’s smile, and the connection with humanity and nature. Finding gratitude, no matter how small.
Clinging to hope and reflecting that light into the world can be rewarding both to our own healing and the healing within the world around us. As people, our scars make us want to turn the light off and hide. There were times I wanted to shrink and to disappear, but it is our scars that sometimes help us connect, that give us
wisdom, that can give us resilience, and empathy. And as a tiny spark meets another ember, light expands. Hope illuminates through all our broken pieces. Let us continue to shine. In our art, in our smiles, and in our lives.