Negus the dragon

Negus the dragon

Friday, August 30, 2013


Jessica S. Harris
To work teaching art being active with youth and in a community setting while continuing to develop my art portfolio.

Bachelor of Fine Art received from Humboldt State University in December 2003.

I enjoy a wide variety of arts and crafts, such as painting, knitting, jewelry making, and working with textiles. I am interested in becoming involved in community activities, such as working with youth. Creating and promoting my art.

Professional Accomplishments
Teaching Art
Currently, I teach art classes at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Since I began teaching at the Essex Art Center, I have taught various mediums including,pottery on the wheel, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and art history.  I have had students between the ages of 3-adult. My primary class is pottery on the wheel for children over the age of 10.

Through the Essex Art Center, I have also taught art for the Middle school girls of the Esperanza Academy. , Teaching art for the Esperanza Academy girls was very rewarding work. I taught them all mediums of art including art history. I began teaching for Esperanza in 2007, working with 6 grade girls and I continued with the same group of girls until they graduated from 8th grade. I also taught 6th grade girls beginning September 2010 ending in April 2011 due to the birth of my son.

I have been teaching art classes for the Worcester art museum since March 2008.  I teach a variety mediums and methods and my students are between the grades k-8.  I have also worked “off site” going into Worcester public schools to teach art after school. I inspire students with the museum’s rich art collection whenever possible. This work gives me a wide range of experiences working in the community. Through this program, I have taught at public schools, churches, and community centers. Through this program, my youngest student was 3 and the oldest was 83.

I also taught art classes at the Danforth Museum School since spring of 2007. My students ranged from kindergarten to middle school ages. I worked mostly with clay and three-dimensional art, ranging from general sculpture classes to pottery on the wheel.

Additional Work

-      Mark’sgarden and Gifts in Watertown, Ct from spring until summer of 2005.  Assisted customers with gardening needs,specializing in trees and shrubs.
-      I have worked seasonally at Smolak Farms on and off for several years. I worked in their bakery cooking large batches of doughnuts,cleaning, and assisting the bakers as needed.
-       Worked as sales associate for 3 months at Clay’s, a family owned chain of women’s clothing boutiques. Assisting customers, maintaining a clean and organized store, designing displays and sales promotion.      
-       Worked as a server for Friendly’s restaurant in Framingham Before relocating to Webster, Ma.   Nov-Dec. 2007

RecentEmployment History

    February2008- Present Employment; Teacher at the Worcester Art Museum

     55Salisbury Street, Worcester, Ma 01609 - (508) 799-4406
     April 2007 – January 2009; Teacher atthe Danforth Museum
     123Union Avenue, Framingham, MA 01702-8291 — 508.620.0050
     January 2006 – Present; Teacher at theEssex Art Center
     56Island St., Lawrence, MA 01840   (978)685-2343 ♦

Referencesare available on request.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A strange dream that I had last night

A woman is in labor on a dirty sidewalk near a disgusting garbage can.
She stands and leans on the garbage can, the baby is coming quickly. I rub her back and tell her to breathe. Suddenly, I see the baby's head and almost immediately, I am able to catch the baby in my arms. I am wearing a pretty soft and delicate white shirt that I take off and wrap the baby with in and give it to its mother. There is a rude fat lady standing nearby smoking a cigarette and I get very angry that she would smoke so close to a newborn baby and a woman in labor. She refuses to stop and we argue loudly. The woman is a nasty bitch. 
The mother of the baby calmly comes over and tells us to stop arguing. She has something else to wrap her baby in and she gives me my shirt back. I notice that my pretty soft white shirt is stained from the baby's birth, but I don't care, I just put it back on.

Then, suddenly I am a student again and I am with one of my old college professors. (She was an Art History and a Women's Studies Professor and she was my advisor and one of my main mentors in my college education. I miss her.)
We were sitting by her computer in her office that was packed with wonderful books discussing the classes that I needed to take.  A science class which would be a challenge. A women's studies class that I was very excited about. A religious studies class that I dreaded because I hated the teacher. 
Occasionally, during our discussion about my classes, I would inquire about the newborn baby and the mom would come into the room and say that the baby was fine and taking a nap. At one point, while wearing my white shirt that was stained from birth, I came to look in at the sleeping infant. I am happy to see the baby sleeping so peacefully all wrapped in clean white blankets laying in a bassinet. 
All the while, I am also feeling stressed about all of the classes I have to enroll in for the upcoming semester. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Blessed life.

"Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."  ~Pablo Picasso

My life is  blessed. 

I am blessed because I am an artist. I am an emotional person and being able to express myself through art is a blessing for sure. I feel that the creative process is a highly spiritual experience. Art is something that has brought joy into my life and been a wonderful source of stress release. Often the creative process serves as an escape for me when life gets tough. 

I was the product of a teenage romance brought up by a single mom. Our life together has been filled with both struggles and joys. My relationship with mom has not always been easy. As a young teen I wrote a poem expressing my feelings about my mom, saying that she was my best friend and my worst enemy at the same time. I still feel that way today. Early in life I discovered that creating was a way for me to express my feelings and have a release in a relationship that has always been a challenge.

I have a mother who is strongly feminist and practices Wicca. I am blessed to have a mom who has influenced my life in such positive ways. I began identifying as a witch at a very young age. I felt the mysteries and power of being a woman and the magic in nature and I took pride in my sexuality.

All of these things reflect in my artwork. Love, passion, anger, fear, sadness, weakness, power and magic are all themes that have inspired me and continue to today. 

I am blessed with a family that freely fed my creative spirit throughout my life. I was given art supplies and always praised for my creations.  I am blessed to have a mom who taught me printmaking when I was 11 fueling my passion for art and giving me another avenue to express myself. I have been hooked ever since. Printmaking is a process that involves thought and preparation. I have found that just the process of creating art is sometimes a spiritual experience in itself. Artistic process on it's own is a form of meditation. It is a way to connect with myself, quiet my mind and find creative focus.

My love of clay began as a young child. I played imaginatively making mud pies with my imaginary friend, Johnny from the mud pile. I still insist that Johnny wasn't imaginary and that mom just never met him. (Johnny was sometimes mean to me. Why would I invent a friend that was mean?) 

In high school clay class mud pies became beautiful hand built creations. I tried working on the wheel, but at that time I was unsuccessful and totally intimidated. At that time I did not have the patience to focus on pottery because I was young and a free spirit who wanted to play with friends and explore the world. 

My free spirit has brought me many places in my life and in my travels. 
Being creative has always helped me find peace.  
Living in California, I encountered several challenges. With the help of my amazing blessing of a Grandmother, I was eventually blessed with the opportunity to go to college. Studying art was the only option.

As an eager art student on the first day of printmaking class, I tried to score the job of lab attendant. Bill was annoyed at first, but not for long because I soon had the keys to the room and Bill and I became friends. I spent hours alone in the printmaking lab creating art. I am blessed to have had such great artistic mentors in my life.

In college ceramics class I got back into working with clay and with much determination I finally conquered my fear of the pottery wheel. My passion for mud pies has only grown. There are many times in my life when I am going through stressful times and I sit down at the wheel with a ball of clay and my stresses all fall away. I say that centering clay on the wheel is centering in more ways than one. You have no choice but to be calm. You must literally and figuratively stay connected with yourself. You must be stable.

a quote from Centering In Pottery, Poetry and Person by M.C. Richards

"Centering: that act which precedes all others on the potter's wheel. The bringing of the clay into a spinning, unwobbling pivot, which will then be free to take innumerable shapes as potter and clay press against each other. The firm, tender, sensitive pressure which yields as much as it asserts. It is like a handclasp between two living hands, receiving the greeting at the at the very moment that they give it. It is this speech between the hand and the clay that makes me think of dialogue. And it is language far more interesting than the spoken vocabulary which tries to describe it, for it is spoken not by the tongue and lips but by the whole body, by the whole person, speaking and listening. And with listening too, it seems to me, it is not the ear that hears, it is not the physical organ that performs that act of inner receptivity. It is the total person who hears. Sometimes the skin seems to be the best listener, as it prickles and thrills, say to a sound or a silence; or the fantasy, the imagination: how it bursts into inner pictures as it listens and responds by pressing its language, its forms, into the listening clay. To be open to what we hear, to be open in what we say...."

I like working with clay, no matter what the method is. It is a very spiritual art form. What could be more spiritual than creating something from earth itself? All four elements take part. 

Clay is earth. Water softens the clay, Air dries it and Fire finishes it making it beautiful.

When I am teaching pottery class, these are the things I often tell my young students; Stability is your friend. Be connected with your body. Don't be intimidated by your neighbor, everyone learns at different paces. Determination is your friend, keep trying and let yourself make mistakes.  How did you learn how to ride a bike? You fell off. Everyone falls off their bike, but you wouldn't know how to ride today if you didn't get back on and keep trying. Get back on the bike. I feel that it is good advice for learning to do pottery but good for life in general.

My job as an art teacher is a blessing. Teaching gives me the ability to share my passion with others. I have had students as young as 3 and as old as 83. Primarily, I teach young people. My students bless my life in many ways. I find that young people are very rewarding to teach because they tend to judge themselves less harshly, they take pride in the process and they are enthusiastic and full of life. The spirit of youth is uplifting and infectious. 

Teaching is a blessing to me giving me a positive focus. This summer, on the first day of pottery class, a 6 year old boy who was a student in one of my spring classes was in the art center for another class. He visited my class three times while I was teaching saying thank you and being sure to hug me before leaving for the day.  I remember the beautiful soap dish that he made in my class and how proud he was when I complimented him on his work. That sort of thing makes me smile. It is so rewarding to feel that I made an impression on a young student.

Even on those days when I am having a rough time, I return home from teaching in a better mood.

For the past few years, I have gone through some difficult times in my life. I have struggled with finances, an unstable relationship,a stressful living situation, and many other uncertainties in my life. I wished and prayed for a baby for years until I came to believe it would never happen for me. I was sad about that but not ready to give up and I was in the doctor's office to discuss possible fertility treatments when I found out that I was pregnant. I was so filled with joy that I laugh cried my way home. however, soon after, I suffered a terrible heartbreak. Once my son was born, I found myself learning how to parent as a single mom. 

I continue to face difficulties in my life, but I turn to a variety of ways to manage and get a mental vacation from things that wear me down.

Since my son was born, I find that getting to time create is not as accessible as it used to be, so teaching has been even more valuable to me. When I am unable to create or teach, I find myself spending a lot of time in the garden in order to get a mental vacation. Working in the yard is another form of creative energy that gives me something to be proud of and brings me peace of mind.   

My life is blessed. Most blessed because I am a mother. I created a life. It is the most challenging and the most rewarding experience a person can have. It is truly magical.
I am blessed with the most beautiful, smart, funny, rambunctious son that a mama could ask for. 
I always wanted to be a mama and after a long time of believing that I never would be, my boy is proof that if you ask the universe for something enough times, sometimes you will get what you ask for.
November 10th, 2010 the day that I found out I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life.
It  blessed me and changed me forever. I am a completely different person than I was on November 9th. 
My son challenges me and blesses me every day. Some days he wakes me up telling me that I am beautiful and wonderful and he loves me and there are moments like the other day when he slathered himself up with an entire tube of A&D diaper ointment while I was rinsing out a diaper.  He keeps me on my toes for sure!
I was talking to someone while on the subway in Boston with William one day and I mentioned that I am a teacher and that is how we get into the aquarium for free. Well, William repeats everything I say and he said, "I am a teacher." The lady said, "Oh, what do you teach?" That was when I said, "He teaches parenting."

My life is blessed. Blessed through a creative spirit, good family and friends, with many great experiences and adventures, wonderful teachers and inspiring students. Blessed with a love of nature and a garden to work in. I am definitely blessed to have a little man named William in my life. 

My life has certainly has not been easy.
My life has definitely been blessed.

This poem reminds me of my busy toddler son.

Noise Day By Shel Silverstein 

Let’s have one day for girls and boyses
When you can make the grandest noises.
Screech, scream, clang a bell,
Sneeze– – hiccup– – whistle– – shout,
Laugh until your lungs wear out,
Toot a whistle, kick a can,
Bang a spoon against a pan,
Sing, yodel, bellow, hum,
Blow a horn, beat a drum,
Rattle a window, slam a door,
Scrape a rake across the floor,
Use a drill, drive a nail,
Turn the hose on the garbage pail,
Shout Yahoo– – Hurrah– – Hooray,
Turn up the music all the way,
Try and bounce your bowling ball,
Ride a skateboard up the wall,
Chomp your food with a smack and a slurp,
Chew– – chomp– – hiccup– – burp.
One day a year do all of these,
The rest of the days– – be quiet please.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For the love of Clem Dog

Clem Dog was given to me when I was just a baby girl. I don't know how old I was, but I swear that I remember him being given to me by my Aunt Jane and Uncle Tony. I have this vision of my Uncle Tony crouching down to give him to me. I remember the soothing sound of Uncle Tony's voice as he introduced me to my new friend and the feeling of his warm hug. I also remember a small book that came attached to Clem with a story that was read to me several times by various family members. It is crazy that I have such vivid memories of receiving Clem because I was so young when he came into my life.

I'm sure that no one back then could predict that I would still own Clem at the age of 37, never mind that he would repeatedly be the subject of my artistic creations. I first used Clem as inspiration for beautiful drawing while studying art at Humboldt State University. That drawing of Clem is in a sketchbook that is currently trapped  in a box somewhere in my mother's basement. I hope to set him free some day soon and have him properly framed and displayed. 
While I was in my first college printmaking class, I learned the method of reduction style block printing, and Clem was the subject of my first of many reduction prints. In that assignment, I was required to use primary colors plus black and white. The result was a vibrant image of my dear friend, Clem.
My immortalization of Clem has touched the life of at least a few.
My sweet cousin for one, and recently, one of my prints sold from my etsy page to someone whose husband also loved a Clem dog as a child. Following is the story that I was sent about why they wanted to buy my Clem art after I inquired if they had received him safely.

Hi Jessica,

Clem sure did. My husband's favorite toy as a child was Clem.  My pug mistook it for one of his chew toys and destroyed it.  My husband was devastated.  I gave your print of Clem for his birthday today and he just loves it.  Clem is in my husband's office and it makes him smile when he sees it.  I love the colors you chose.  Clem looks like a superhero.

I had no idea that a simple image of a beloved childhood toy would be so appreciated by others. Until I saw this....

Oh the horror!!!! 

I am so happy that my dear old friend Clem is still with me to be played with by me and my adorable son William and possibly be the subject of more artistic creations to come.

Before writing this tonight, I did a search to see if I could find the little story book that he came with. I was unsuccessful, but I did find a web page with several sentimental posts from people who loved Clem as well his brother and sister, Clyde and Clara.

As it turns out, Clem Dog's spirit lives on in my art and in the hearts of many.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What I crave most

I crave....
A place of my own. Somewhere that I can create a home for myself and my wonderful son. Space to decorate, hang curtains, maybe a crystal or two, display my art, make a mess, play and have fun.
A place for creating, drawing, painting, printmaking and my wheel. To center in more ways than one. My very own kitchen to stock with foods that I choose, cook meals for my son.
A laundry room with nothing on top of the washer or dryer and a functioning clothesline for non rainy days. An organized and efficient recycling system so I can live life as green as possible.
Yesterday, I learned about keeping composting worms  that  make homemade fertilizer for the garden of my dreams.
A safe space outside for my boy to play in the sun.
A place where I can relax and have some fun.
Affordable, quality childcare for my son. 
More work doing what I love, creating and teaching. 
Is all that too much to ask for?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I am not a poet

I am not a poet.
I lack the knack for rhythm and rhyme
Stringing words together cleverly
Drawing pictures in your mind
With double meanings
and brilliant imagery
Evoking emotion with language and prose
I am not one of those
Not always knowing what to say
I am not a poet.
sometimes, I write one anyway.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Silkscreening progress!!!!

Today we had some major breakthroughs in silk-screening class. It made me so happy. This class has been a challenge for my students and a challenge for me to juggle everyone's needs.
Today I witnessed one of my students, that sweet soft spoken girl who previously needed the most assistance. She was working all on her own and was smiling as she showed me the results of her work. She knew what she was doing and wasn't confused. Seeing that smile made my day.
I was able to help each student little bits at a time and watch as they successfully continued their projects and were happy with their results.
I helped a student who was absent for 2 classes start from scratch and plan ahead for a project that will likely take her 2 more classes. I really like her idea.
My girls learned how to plan ahead and take their time.
I even have at least 2 girls who are signing up for my class again next session.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Born facing Goddess

A lot of magic happens in my life, but this story is full of magical moments.

I think I should begin this story on the morning of November 10, 2010 when I woke up having had a very strange dream. It involved a young girl who was pregnant but wasn't prepared for it. She was a single mother, but not by choice. My friends and I were helping her prepare, we tried to encourage her by telling her that everything would be alright. We had a baby shower and tried to help her find a place to live. The strange part was that the father of her baby was a hooved animal and it was like it was totally normal to be pregnant from a hooved animal. I wasn't sure what specific animal it was, just that it had hooves.
Later that day, I had a doctor's appointment and found out that I was pregnant! Something that I had come to believe would never happen. Joy!!!

A week later discovered that I was actually 13 weeks pregnant. I realized that day that I was the pregnant girl in my dream because my baby was going to be born under either the Aries or Taurus birth signs, both represented by animals with hooves.
Over the next months, I came to see many more ways that I was the girl in my dream.

It was finally Spring and I was full of baby.
For a couple of weeks before my baby was born, I was getting calls and text messages from people asking me if my baby had come yet. My Uncle Tom called me on the 17th telling me that I had 2 days to have the baby because he wanted my baby to be born on his birthday. I laughed and told him I would do the best I could.

It was April vacation, and my sister Abby had the week off from school. We had plans for she and my mother to be with me in the delivery room, and we were all very excited about my baby.
Easter was coming soon and we had fun dying eggs. I put a couple of silly eye stickers above my stretched out belly button and took pictures. It was funny!
 My belly looked like a giant egg, so I convinced my mom and Abby to use our face paints to paint my belly like an Easter egg. They painted it all white and added blue zigzag stripes across the middle. I am pretty sure that was when our spell was cast.

Mom came with me for my doctor's appointment that day. The doctor checked me and said I still wasn't quite ready. Then he hooked me up to a machine to monitor the baby's activity. The baby wasn't moving much and the monitor wasn't showing much activity. I remember the doctor came in at one point and said my baby was a "poopy baby." We weren't sure what to make of that.
I had to just lay there hooked up to these machines while the doctor came in occasionally and seemed disappointed each time. Meanwhile, Mom was taking pictures of me with her phone and posting them on Facebook with statuses about how she thought they were going to induce me that day. She had a similar experience with one of my siblings.
One of our long time friends who happened to be Taurus, commented on her Facebook status, "Wait Little Bull, wait." She wanted my baby to be a Taurus like her and we were still in the birth sign of Aries. Soon after, we began using the nickname, "Little Bull" for my baby.
I believe those words may have helped to solidify our spell.
The doctor came in and said that he wanted to admit me to the hospital because he wanted to see more activity and if there wasn't more they would have to induce me. Mom was getting excited but I was just annoyed because somehow I just knew that it wasn't going to happen that day. We wound up hanging around a hospital room hooked up to monitors and waiting for an ultrasound technician who never came and they eventually let us go home because my baby's activity was fine and we were rest hungry and annoyed.
Just like my instincts told me, it wasn't the day.

I continued to get calls and messages from friends and family asking if the baby was coming yet. My Uncle Jim asked my mom if the egg hatched yet.
People were giving all sorts of advice on how to make the baby come, teas to drink and foods to eat. The most common advice was to walk. So, I walked and whole family got involved. During the 2 weeks before my baby was born, we all went down to the town green and walked a few laps around together. It was fun. We walked almost every day except for Saturday the 23rd, the day after my due date. It was rainy and yucky that day and nobody wanted to go out in that weather. So we just hung around the house. We needed to find a new way to be physically active, so my Sister Abby showed me how to use Wii fit. We took turns doing the obstacle course and playing different games. We were jogging in place, jumping, golfing, bowling and hula hooping. I guess it was a pretty hilarious sight to see a 9 month pregnant girl doing all of those things. Especially the hula hooping. Mom said she wanted to take a video but didn't because she was afraid I would be embarrassed. In retrospect, I wish she had for the memories and so I could laugh at myself.

We stopped playing to eat and then went our separate ways. I was watching TV downstairs with mom and Abby was upstairs in her room. I eventually got bored and texted Abby to come down. She came down in a flash because she thought that I might be I labor. We laughed and said no that I was just bored and wanted to do more Wii fit. We continued with our jogging and jumping for a couple more hours. I think it was 11 o'clock when we finally stopped. We got ourselves into our comfy clothes and got ready for bed. Well, actually couch. I wasn't comfortable sleeping in my bed anymore and mom and Abby decided to sleep on the couch with me for the past couple of nights to keep me company. We had recently gotten a new couch that was a large sectional big enough for the three of us to sleep on. It was fun.
We were all getting comfortable. I had some toast and was just settling down in my spot when I felt a gush and suddenly shot out of my seat across the room! Mom asked if my water broke and I responded, "Um, I think so."
This was definitely it.
Dave was asleep upstairs and mom figured we probably still had quite some time, so she decided to take a shower. Ha! When she went upstairs, she told a sleepy Dave that my water broke and she was going to get in the shower. He thought she was joking and went back to sleep. When mom got out of the shower, Dave found out it was no joke and sprung into action.
We had to go to the emergency room and they admitted me immediately. I have never had such quick emergency room service.
Eventually mom and I found ourselves walking in circles around the corridor of the labor and delivery wing until they made me lay down to get hooked up to monitors so they could monitor my contractions and my baby's activity.
Next, they gave me Pitocin to speed up my contractions. I seriously doubt I will ever have another baby, but if I ever do, I think I will say no to Pitocin because it made my contractions come non stop with hardly any breaks in between. They were relentless.
I sighed loud moaning sighs with every contraction. My mom and my sister took turns shoving their fists in my back to help relieve the pressure.
I didn't want to have an Epidural, but I wound up giving on to that eventually because I was so exhausted and I couldn't take it anymore. The Epidural was like a blessing and a curse at the same time. It was such a relief because it took the pain away, but on the other hand, I am confident that it negatively affected my ability to contact the right muscles when pushing.

My baby was face up, which they say is "Facing God", but I like to say, "Facing Goddess."
Well, that also added to the difficulties of our labor and delivery. Doctor Finch wanted me to wear an oxygen mask because she was concerned about my baby being under stress. Delivery was rough on both of us.
The rest of the people in the room were having their own little party. While I was resting between pushes, I heard my doctor say, "I pick things up and put them down." Everyone laughed. My mother had told the nurses and Doctor Finch about how we call the baby "Little Bull" and how it was even more appropriate now that we were under the birth sign of Taurus. Every time I leaned in to push my baby out, there was a room full of women chanting, "Come on Little Bull! Come on Little Bull!"

After almost 18 hours of labor in complete exhaustion, I finally I heard the words, "It's a Boy!" and seconds later I was holding my screaming baby for the first time. My sister was in tears, my mother was sobbing and I felt relief and joy. It was the most magical day of my life.

At 4:49pm on Easter Day, my Little Bull was born facing Goddess.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Life happens, plans don't.

I live in my Mother's house. I have been living here for more than two years now. I never intended to be here for this long. Well, I didn't intend for a lot of things to happen.
I moved in May of 2010 and originally planned to only stay until September. I had been living with my then boyfriend, who I will call X. Our relationship was quite rocky at the time. However, our plans to live separately for the summer were based on financial reasons. The plan was to save money and take care of bills in order to get into a better, less stressful situation and move back in together. That is not exactly how things went.
We did pay off bills and get into a better financial situation, at least I thought so at the time. Still things weren't so great between us. I had been wanting to have a baby and move forward in our relationship for years and X kept telling me that he wanted the same things. I had little to no evidence from his behavior to see that he actually did want those things.
We continued to see each other that summer and had some nice times together. We both worked. I payed off the personal loan that my aunt gave me to buy my first car, which is now broken down and useless, but that is another story.
When September came closer, we had plans to participate in the Bethlehem fair to attempt sell my artwork. Although we had recently had some pretty tense arguments and were close to ending our relationship, we did the fair together and had a really great time. X really put on the charm. He was so attentive and kind to me and said all the things that I wanted to hear. He convinced me that I should move to Connecticut to be with him because that was were he had good work and was capable of supporting me and the family we had plans to start. Which was quite an accomplishment on his part because it had been years since I was willing to live in Connecticut. I had, (and still have), great art teaching jobs here in Mass that I want willing to give up, but I figured that if he was willing to support me and a family and also supported my drive as an artist and art teacher, then it was worth a shot.
We did alright at the fair. We came out with a small profit, gave away a lot of business cards, and had a lot of fun. It was something we definitely wanted to do again, but because of the way things went after that, that sort of plan fell to the wayside.
At that point, the reason I needed to stay at my mother's had changed due to our renewed devotion to each other. Or so I thought. X told me he was going to find a nice place for us to live. So we agreed that needed to stay at Mom's until he found a suitable space. We even did some apartment hunting together.
As I mentioned before, I really wanted to have a baby and actually, I thought there was something wrong with me and that I would never get pregnant. I think everyone thought that. I had an unreliable cycle and a year prior I had had some weird thing going on were I was having hot flashes and saw a doctor because I thought I was going through early menopause. It turned out to be just some unexplainable weirdness.
At the Bethlehem fair I hadn't been feeling well and now that we had plans to live together again, I also made plans to see a doctor and have myself checked out. I expressed to that doctor what my situation was and how badly I wanted to have a baby. We discussed fertility treatments, even some would be covered by my Masshealth. He was supposed to get himself checked too. That was late October 2010 after my 35th birthday. We had plans to put me on an ovulation stimulation drug called Clomid. I was very excited about the possibilities!
In the meantime I had been teaching 3 days a week since September and driving to Connecticut to be with him during the other 4 days a week, every week. We slept on an uncomfortable mat on the floor of the apartment that X shared with his mentally ill brother who was awake at weird hours and smoked too much. Still, I came there every weekend like clockwork. I thought things were going really well with us. we were in love again. I even remember one evening before I got in my car to drive back to Mass, the way that he grabbed me and kissed me and told me that I was the love of his life. I was very happy. I was in love.
X was working independently in construction and I would help him from time to time. Sometimes we stayed in the apartments we were fixing while we worked on them. I remember two in particular which became significant in my mind. One apartment was where we slept when my favorite opal necklace fell apart and also that place became significant again later for another reason. Another place that I remember was because I was having this really weird period that was unbelievably heavy for just the first day and then annoyingly light and persistent for more than two weeks. When I look back, I realize now that I hadn't felt quite right since that last August. My boobs were hurting. None of my female friends had any idea what it might be. None of us thought I might be pregnant because everyone was convinced it would never happen. I mean, we had been together for so many years with no pregnancies. Something had to be wrong.
I went back for a follow up appointment with the doctor ready to sign up for the ovulation stimulation. Still I hadn't been feeling very well and I hadn't had my period in over a month since the last extremely strange one I had. I didn't think anything of it because my cycle hadn't been reliable in a long time. The doctor had informed me that she had thought better of the drug we had discussed and was going to refer me to a fertility clinic instead. I was disappointed because I felt like it was going to make things take longer. She also convinced me that i should take a pregnancy test "just in case", which I did begrudgingly because I had taken so many in my life at that point and was really tired of the sadness that occurred with each negative result. We also did my annual Pap examination. I remember her saying that I felt "full" and saying, "huh, no one has ever said that to to me before." Still, neither one of us thought anything of it. After my exam we sat down to discuss my fertility plan, when there was a knock at the door. I watched and waited patiently as she whispered through the small opening in the doorway. She turned around with two thumbs up and a smile. I said, "what?!?!?!!!" And she said with a smile, "You're pregnant!" I said, "what?!" and she confirmed it for me a second time, "you're pregnant."
I was completely blown away. I cried immediately and called X right away to tell him. He was definitely shocked. I was overjoyed. He said he was happy, but most of all, over the phone, I could tell that he was shocked. We had been together for over a decade and the one thing that we were beginning to believe would never happen naturally, had finally happened.
I laugh cried my whole way home. Joy, pure joy! I will never forget the moment when I walked into the family room of my mother'a house with a tear in my eye and she immediately thought the worst. She thought they had told me that I was infertile. When she asked me what was wrong and I responded that it was nothing and that I was pregnant. She didn't believe me at first and we laughed and cried together. She had me hold an old baby doll so she could take my picture. That day was November 10, 2010. For me, one of the happiest days.
I had my first OB appointment a week later and X couldn't make it so my mom came with me. I honestly don't remember the reason he couldn't make it. It was just one of many times that he couldn't make it. When mom and I went to that first appointment, and I told the nurse about that last strange period that I had, I was told that I was 8 weeks pregnant. Then when we went into the examination room and was examined by Doc Finch, I remember the look on her face when she examined me and her hand moved further up my abdomen little by little. She told me that I was either 8 weeks pregnant with twins or 13 weeks with one baby and that we wouldn't know for sure until I had an ultrasound. Then she left the room to get the Doppler radar and we got to hear the heartbeat of my beautiful baby for the first time that day. I will never forget that sound, like a little horse, clipity clop, clipity clop, clipity clop, and the way that my mother and I squeezed each other's hands in excitement. When we left the office that day I remember having the instinct that I was just having one baby.
I still think it was amazing that I was 13 weeks pregnant before I even found out.
Then, the reason that I needed to stay at my mother's house became because I was pregnant and I was fully covered by Masshealth. So, we decided that it was best for me to stay until after the baby was born. X still was supposed to be looking for a suitable space for our little family to live so that we could live together in Connecticut and he could support us.
I continued to drive to spend four days with him and slept on the uncomfortable floor in an apartment with too much cigarette smoke. I just believed that everything would work out the way it we had planned. It seemed like he was getting really excited too. I started feeling the baby move. I remember that he said to me that we should have another baby right away. I told him to slow down because this one hadn't even come out yet.
It began to get very uncomfortable for me to stay on that mat on the floor and also to do the 2 1/2 hour drive and having to stop to pee on the way. So I came less frequently and he agreed that he would do the drive instead and come up to visit me at my mom's house every week.
X came sometimes, but definitely not every week. Even though I was extremely excited about my baby, I got very lonely.
I did go to Connecticut for that Christmas and New Year 2011. His brother and sister in law always have a Christmas Eve party and X got very drunk. I enjoyed being around his family, but I was very uncomfortable and just wanted to sit. I was tired and annoyed that he drank so much alcohol. The next day was Christmas and we spent the day together and had Chinese food for dinner. It was probably the worst Christmas I have ever had. We toasted the new year with some Sparkling Cider looking forward to our future. There was a night during that visit when I decided not to stay at a friends house because I knew I would not be comfortable on her couch. When I called X, he told me he was driving stuff to the dump. That night he did not answer my call, or the phone would pick up and I would scream his name and I just heard rustling and some girl's voice in the background. I called so many times that night and he never picked up the phone. I cried all night, alone on an uncomfortable mattress on the floor. 8am the next morning, I was ready to call police and hospitals to find him. I called his boss instead. I could not get ahold of him. I was ready to get in the car and drive to apartments we had worked on together to try to find him when he arrived at the door still apologetic and still drink from the night before. I told him how upset I was and that I felt abandoned and asked who's was that female voice that I heard. He said it was the daughter of his friend and that he was sorry and he got too drunk to answer the phone. He said it wouldn't happen again. I asked him he was cheating on me and he said no and acted like that was a crazy question as if he would never do such a thing.
I cried.
It was the first time I had ever seriously thought X would cheat on me. Over the many years that I had known him I had become all to familiar with his alcoholism and the behaviors that went along with it. It was not the first time that his alcoholism caused me to cry and it would not be the last. I was we'll aware that it would not be the last, however, I never thought that it would get as bad as it did.
I thought I had no choice but to believe that he was telling me the truth. It was either that or break up with him in that moment and continue with my pregnancy on my own. There have been many times since then that I have looked back on that moment thinking that I made the wrong decision that day.
That was the last time I drove to Connecticut during my pregnancy. I went back to my life teaching art 3 days a week and getting increasingly excited about my baby as days passed.
That winter was harsh. There was so much snow and it just seemed relentless. Snow piles were like mountains on the side of the road. It was very isolating.
X didn't come up to visit me very often. Even though I was so happy about my pregnancy, I was also very lonely.
I loved being pregnant. I played music to my belly. I felt great. I took good care of myself. I felt beautiful and sexy.
When X did visit, he didn't show me much affection. He hadn't wanted to have sex since before we found out about the pregnancy. I thought he was turned off by the pregnancy. Which was unfortunate for me because of how great I felt about myself at the time.
The winter continued and so did the loneliness. X came sporadically and I started to notice strange things. One time he showed up and his unibrow was shaved in the middle. He told me that he was grooming his eyebrow and it went a little too far. Weird. A few times I asked if he was cheating on me and he always said no and acted like it was a ridiculous question. How could I think such a thing? That would never happen.
I wanted him to visit more often. I was told that he was working and saving money and looking for an apartment for the three of us. Still, I felt sad when he didn't show up. I missed him.
We made a plan to have a romantic 3 day visit together to celebrate Valentine's day. He was going to cook salmon for me and we were going to get a room to stay together for a night. I was really looking forward to it.
It was the day before Valentine's day and I was sitting on the chair in the family room waiting for him to arrive playing Words with Friends (in my loneliness I played a lot of Words with Friends.) I took a minute to check my Facebook page and saw that I had received a private message. It was not from someone that I was friends with. It was from the person he had been sleeping with. Her message said that he had been living with her since November, the same month that I found out I was pregnant. She told me that I should keep a tighter leash on my man. I found out later that she was the same female whose voice I had heard on the phone that night that he never came home and she just happened to live in the same apartment where my opal necklace fell apart.
I confronted him as soon as he arrived. At first he told me that he hadn't slept with her. He began to tell me one lie after another which lasted for quite a while.
That Valentine's day was the worst of my life. I spent the day sobbing and had to go to the OB to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Sad. Very sad.
That was when the reason for staying at mom's became because I had nowhere else to go. I had nothing and my plan up until then relied on him following through and being able to support us.
At first X told me that he would stop seeing her, but he continued to see her for several months after my son was born.
I was 6 months pregnant when my heartbreak began and the remainder of my pregnancy was emotionally very difficult.
I was very public about my heartbreak. It was all over my Facebook page. I figured I had nothing to hide. I really don't regret being so open and in the public about my feelings. I actually think it helped me get through it somehow.
X had been my friend for many years and we were in a committed relationship for over 10 years and our history spans backs since we were teenagers.
Now he and I get along reasonably well. He visits William every Saturday and we have an agreement that we will come to stay in Ct once a month so William can get to know his family. A family that I have grown very close to over the years. I think that they were also very sad about what happened to our relationship.
Well, it hasn't been easy having to live in my mom's house all this time but it also really is true that much of what I have done in the past 2 years of my life I wouldn't have been able to do without the support of my family.
Now I have a whole new plan. Almost a year ago I started going to the local United Unitarian Church in hopes of meeting more people and being more active in the community. That is where I met a couple of nice ladies, one who has another art space for me to teach in. Another who now babysits William while I teach and as it turns out, she also has a house where she rents rooms to make ends meet. In addition to some new and attractive teaching opportunities, my current plan is for William and I to move in with those nice ladies shortly after he turn 2.
Maybe I'll get lucky and this plan will work out.
Life goes on......

Art Through the Ages

I really like this kind of class because we can do a little of everything and dabble in all sorts of methods of creating art. Also, I really love art history.
For this class, we started out looking at cave art. We looked at images of actual cave art and discussed what life was like for the cave people, what resources they had available and what sorts of things might have served as inspiration for their art.
The cave people did their art on the rough walls of the caves that they lived in, with materials that they found in their surroundings. They probably burned sticks to make charcoal to draw with and used plants and minerals to make paint. They painted on the walls of their caves. Maybe by the fireside as they told stories of the hunt of the day.
Our first project was to take large brown paper and crumple it up in a ball so that got really wrinkly and rough. Then we uncrumpled the paper and used charcoal and tempera paint to create our own cave art.
The project was short but the results were great. It was very rewarding.
Next we talked about Egyptian mythology.
We talked about symbols used in Egyptian art and animals that were really important to them. We looked at pictures of the pyramids and statues of ancient Pharos wearing elaborate headdresses.
I told the story of Isis and Osiris the best that I could remember it while we began our next project. We decided to create paper mâché Egyptian masks. We used plaster faces and built them up with newspaper and tape to resemble those statues of ancient times.
The project took three classes altogether. One to build the structure, one to do the paper mâché and one to decorate with paint, glitter and gems.
They looked really beautiful all hung together on the classroom wall.
Our next project is in progress. We have been making coil pots and smoothing out the outside so we will have a nice surface to paint Ancient Greek geometric patterns.

Time has wings

This image makes me happy.

After so many years,
I finally got my wish.
Now, time has wings.
Soon, my baby will be 2 years.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beautiful insects

I have these nice small linoleum blocks just sitting in my art supply drawers ready to be cut and printed.
I have really been itching to do some artwork lately.

 I came up with a great idea to do a series of reduction block prints of beautiful insects. I did a search for images of beautiful insects and got some great inspiration.

Then I got to thinking about how much I want to work with my wheel again. I thought that it would be great to do a series of beautiful insect inspired teapots to go with the prints.

I have imagined a teapot with Monarch butterflies, like when they are migrating and they all swarm onto one tree. It would be hard, but I can do it.

A teapot with a grasshopper sitting on it and long blades of grass pushed into the surface and peeled off to leave an imprint.
A teapot with a web carved onto the surface and some kind of beautiful spider either spinning or capturing it's prey.

It will probably take me a while. Everything does seem to take a little bit longer now that I am a Mom. I have a lot of ideas for art that I want to create, I just don't have enough time to do it all. I will just have to make time to do it all. One way or another, I will do it even if it takes me a long time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Process not product

I teach a silkscreen class to young people ages 8-10 every Thursday after school. The class is full of 8 girls who are all smart, talented and full of energy.
The process that I am teaching is involved and takes patience and planning ahead. There is very little immediate gratification. Sometimes I feel like I am teaching a class about for-thought, self control and dealing with mistakes.
Silk screening calls for knowing what you want your end result to be and being willing to take lots of sometimes tedious steps in order to get there. It involves knowing what colors you want and what paper or fabric you want to work with. Also, cutting your own stencil out of contact paper with an exacto blade, and sometimes more than one. Then there is planning for registration, or lining up your paper properly so that your print comes out the way you want it. If that process is too much for you, then you have to create a plan that is abstract in some way so that it doesn't matter if it lines up properly, or just have no plan at all and go with the flow to see where the process takes you.
Sometimes this is difficult for a bunch of young ladies who want very specific things to be specific colors and in specific places on their page. The majority of these girls tend to be quite demanding young ladies and it is impossible for me to help them all at the same time, so I have them helping each other whenever possible. That seems to work quite well for most of these vivacious young ladies. Still, mishaps happen that cannot be avoided. Frustration occurs.
Overall, I have to say that most of them have very good plans and if they are able to work through their frustration, they will be happy with the results.
Another dynamic of the class is that we have a variety of personality and needs in the class. There are quite a few strong personalities who are not shy at all and have no problem asking for help when they need it. Which is a very good quality, but there is one very sweet, quiet and quite shy young lady in the class who sometimes gets overpowered by the other girls and happens to need the most help. I have her working on a simple plan that needs no registration and I came in today planning to help her first and still got sidetracked several times. In the end, she and I got together a very good start to what I think will be a very beautiful print.