Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have a confession to make... I have been making these knives, forks, and spoons out of wire, heavily beaten plant fibers like flax and abaca, and then encaustic (wax). I am also doing drawings of cutlery as well. ... and I don't know what the heck I am going to do with them. I kind of know why I am using this imagery- my Nana Rose left me her sterling silver cutlery when she passed in 1984, and I certainly don't eat with them that often. But I started thinking about what gets passed down through generations and what we do with that "stuff" be it possessions, family traditions, family secrets, and genetic predispositions - like my BRCA 2 gene for breast cancer.

I would feel guilty melting the silver down for sculpture, and I am not ready to sell them so I see them as some sort of connection to my past, making something in the present, something fragile, etheral, skeletal... but what to do with them... heck I just don't know.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BE-ing ALIVE: Love ... loss

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a childhood neighbor and friend. Beth Fendell grew up next to next to me with her sister Pam. Pam and I close in age, and Beth in the same grade as my brother Lenny. The four of us grew up on McEvoy Road in Edison playing house, school, tag, and sharing in each others birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs and graduations. The little Beth Mae Fendell that I knew with golden curls and chubby cheeks with dimples grew into a loving, caring wife and mother. Beth died suddenly of a brain aneurysm over the weekend at the age of 46.

Friends and family came from all over to pay their respects to Beth and her grieving family. The 90 something year old rabbi who had married Beth and Andy years before led the service. It was probably one of the most memorable services I have ever been to. Beth's sister, and my friend Pam led the long list of those who eulogized this beautiful person and loving soul, and at the beginning and end the rabbi spoke of the Kabbalistic teachings of love and life and loss all being part of our human experience. He reminded us that our souls live on beyond the house/ the shell/ the body. He asked all those who are not related to family to raise our right hands and bless the family as he recited a blessing for strength and healing. The Rabbi also shared with us the words of his Kabbalistic teacher that the word ALIVE holds the lessons for how we are to live THIS life:

A- awareness. Live each moment with awareness and presence.
L - love. unconditional love, give it, live it.
I- inspiring. Be inspiring to others with your thoughts and actions
V- victorious. Be victorious over negativity. Your thoughts become your reality. Do not give time or energy to negative thoughts.
E- excitement. Be excited about everything you do.... your job, your actions, what ever it is.

thoughts to live by, so that when it is our time to pass on, we will have touched so many as Beth Fendell did, indeed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Brearely Studio Shots

We are nearing the end of my residency and I am really enjoying working with Janice Marisilli's students at Brearely. The kids are doing some beautiful work and it is so inspiring watching them become engaged in the process. It is still a constant touch and go of.... I hate this, I love this ... their work, the process, school, - life, that it keeps me totally present. I KNOW the power of their work and when I can get them to see it - well, that's what it's all about. Some of the kids have started to work with the poet and writer Penny Harter and are very excited about what they have done with her so far. I knew of her , but couldn't place her face... then I went to her website and realized that we have been in several NJSCA workshops together. Check out her site at:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Clearing Out

It is hard to believe that today is already January 24th - 2008! Time is such a curious element in our lives. This week I have been up at Brearely High School and the kids are doing some wonderful monoprints - and what is great is that some of them, most of them are actually admitting that they LIKE their own work! Talk about life as a mirror! When I think about all the negative self talk I can admit to about my own studio practices at times, it is enlightening to see in others how destructive a habit that is. And where does that come from???? I have an appointment this afternoon with Joy Principe, a former yoga teacher of mine and a life coach who does this new practice using the The Rubenfeld Synergy Method. I am signing up for a 3 session package as a New Year's present to myself. I am curious to see what issues and emotions my body is holding on to so I can begin this new year and new adventure with an open heart.

Image above: Danielle Denson's Paper Prayer (Linocut Text to be added....)

In addition to teaching, I made time for myself in my studio- though I actually did this in my laundry room- dipping my wire cutlery into a 5 gallon bucket of heavily beaten abaca and flax pulp. As you can see I hung the wet and dripping pieces from an exposed pipe in the laundry room- dripping into a bucket- and sometimes on the floor when Thunder, my pet rabbit decided to play with the bucket! The pieces dried fairly quickly- with the help of a dehumidifier placed in the room. I will down load some of those pictures later. I also spent some time printing a silk aquatint collograph plate that I had made several months using an image that has been in my mind for quite some time. The first two proofs needed some work which I have since gone back into, and will print that again tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I have been in various schools the past couple of weeks. Printmaking with High School kids at Brearely in Kenilworth, Papermaking with 7th graders at Mountz in Spring Lake, and yesterday and today with K- 4 at Brookdale School in Verona. One little kindergarten boy exclaimed yesterday while block printing his own unique stamp . " This is MAGIC!"

I love that because it reminds me of why I enjoy teaching and sharing what I do. It also speaks of the power of art to transform - those who create, and those who view it. It is a win -win situation when we are in that space or zone. As an artist. teacher, and mom, it is also a call to remember to make that time for myself to create.

Here is a short video of one of the seventh graders partnering with a senior citizen to make paper for a collaborative project.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

5 Year Anniversary!

It's all good! Today is my 5 year anniversary since my cancer surgery... and what a journey it has been. The past 5 years have been about the cancer one way or another it seems- the healing, the work- the Art of Survival, and collaborating with my cousin Ellen on our book, Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings, and above all the incredible people in my life: family, friends, doctors, artists..... And today it is all about GRATITUDE. 5 years later here I am alive and healthy with my husband and children, surrounded by family and friends AND it was a record setting warm day (how that makes my heart SING!) so off to yoga I went with my friend, neighbor and fellow yogi - Millie. As always, Christian's class is the perfect blend of butt-kicking challenge, heart opening inspiration and humor. As I practiced my asanas I focused on gratitude and will try and continue to hold that in my heart.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Book in the New Year

After a whole slew of book signings and events for our book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings, Ellen and I took somewhat of a break over holidays. Now that the New Year is here it is time to regroup and see how we can get our message, book , and now blanket to those whose would benefit from its message. We did get a great review from ONF (Oncology Nursing Forum)... check it out at

Here is a great photo of Griffin snuggling with our blanket that Fran Waldmann our book designer and graphic design guru took for us.....

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Woodrow Wilson, Africa, & High School Students

" You are not here to merely make a living. You are here to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand."

Woodrow Wilson

Today was the first day back after the winter break with my students at David Brearley High School in Kenilworth. I am there doing a printmaking residency. The first half of the 20 day residency the students did some really wonderful drypoint etchings of restaurants and food stores from their town. The intention is to create a visual record of the town through food and tradition. These prints will be part of a community cook book along with recipes collected from seniors as well as family members. For the next part of the residency, Janice Marsili - their art teacher and I are interested in getting the students involved in art as social action. We showed our friend Eileen Foti's award winning documentary, which she created with Patty Piroh, titled "A Ripple in the Water."
This film is about Kim Berman and her work as an artist, teacher, founding director of the Artist Print Studio in South Africa.

We will be talking next week about ways that we can create work that will have a ripple effect....Most of the students seemed interested... as you can see by my drawing in my sketchbook- not everyone!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Day 2... and I am on track- though barely! Slept little last night for whatever reason, painted in the am, swam, and then did the Mommy track. The wind is howling and I can feel it through these old windows. My bed and book are beckoning me. But wanted to get this in. I am reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is bleak and sparse and haunting.

I am thankful for my warm bed and house among so many other things.

hAppi nEw yEaR !?#

another year....and how great is that! I am feeling optimistic on a personal level and not so much as a citizen of the world, but maybe that'll come around,too. Made it through the holidays which is not always my favorite time of the year, the crowds, the pressure for to be festive when in reality I am feeling a little burnt out, a little overwhelmed and here in the northeast the weather is colder and more gray. but I am finding the beauty in even that. SO that said, my commitment to my yoga and meditation keeps me grounded as does my family and friends but it is my work through my art and teaching that I feel needs some tweaking, i.e. which in this case means infusing with some new energy and purpose - which is where the drawing a day comes from thanks to a quote in the local paper by Sid Godwin a professor of art at Brookdale Community College here....

"Making or leaving one's mark is not simple cliche, but a very concrete act. Drawing is probably the most fundamental of processes in the arts. It is probably one of the most natural ways of intereacting with the world." (just saw my typo there - I LIKE the word intereacting with with world!)

so here is my unofficial new year's resolution: a drawing a day....and for good measure here are 3 for today, which was actually yesterday...but whatever....its showing up that counts.