Suzanne Halvorson: Weaving is My True North

Suzanne Halvorson picSuzanne Halvorson is a textile studio artist and partner in By Hand Gallery (IN). In 2012, she was a Visiting Lecturer at Indiana University School of Fine Arts, and at Earlham College (IN) and will be teaching at Purdue University for the 2013 fall semester. She has taught weaving workshops at Penland School of Craft (NC), Ghost Ranch (NM), Grunewald Guild (WA), and at HGA’s Convergence (CA) and for countless weaver’s guilds and conferences. Her work is published in Handwoven, Shuttle, Spindle, and Dyepot, and Weaving for Worship.

 “My art is my spiritual evolution. Weaving is my true north and without it I don’t know who I would be — I consider it my calling. It keeps me seeing the world as a hopeful place. I look for beauty and inspiration every day.” ~Suzanne Halvorson HALVORSON_2_warp_weft_face_bamboo_2007_display

Listen to Suzanne’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She goes on to say, “Weaving is what I call active meditation. Every step of the process is slow and intentional — it is very calming. There are times when I’m weaving, when I am really in the zone and completely connected to the work, that everything else disappears.” SHalvorson IndigoBamboo

Find out more about Suzanne at Her work is represented by: By Hand Gallery, Bloomington, IN; Marigold Arts, Santa Fe NM; Penland Gallery, Penland, NC; Columbus Visitor’s Center, Columbus, IN; and Spear’s Gallery, Nashville, IN.

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Pastor Lyle McKee, from St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Bloomington, IN, is modeling the chausble.

Her liturgical line is entirely by commission. Suzanne says, “I’m learning to say ‘No’ to commissions that may not be in harmony with where I want to go with my work. I choose the ones that I accept based on if I can do something new — something that inspires me. It’s not just the same old thing.”

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Lenten tent created to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their sanctuary at Peach Lutheran Church in Danville, CA.

Suzanne will be teaching summer workshops “Weaving Explorations” (July 8 – 13) at Ghost Ranch and “Dyeing to Weave” (July 22 – 27) at Grunewald Guild. These workshops are for weavers of all levels.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Melanie Rilling: Living with Intentionality

Melanie Rilling picJewelry artist Melanie Rilling was born and reared in Mississippi, where the very land seems to be steeped in the eccentricities and literature of the Faulkner and Welty tradition. Love of the written word was ingrained from an early age.

In her early thirties, when she came to Atlanta, she discovered a passion and gift for public speaking and began being the spokesperson for several organizations. The freedom found in these new surroundings led to more artistic creativity. Camera 360

“When I discovered working with natural stones in my jewelry-making, I found a connection with nature I had never imagined. The very act of holding these stones in my hands enabled me to see the possibilities of enhancing their natural beauty with other stones, crystals and metals. I found myself ‘listening’ to their beauty and power. It became a form of worship, taking something so perfect and working with its beauty to create something more.  Actually, I feel that if one lives with intentionality, everything takes on an element of worship.” ~Melanie Rilling

Listen to Melanie’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Camera 360While she will always be a storyteller and writer, finding the more tactile art of jewelry-making has enriched her life and her appreciation of the beauty this world holds.

Like Melanie’s Facebook page, MelRox, to find out more about her jewelry made from natural stones.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Betty Humphrey Fowler: Your Physical Environment Can Be Supportive or Toxic

BFowler photoBetty Humphrey Fowler is a Feng Shui Consultant and Certified Interior Re-Designer.  She has been helping people transform their lives by improving the energy flow of their homes and work spaces for almost 12 years.  Betty is trained in Essential Feng Shui by internationally recognized Feng Shui expert, Terah Kathryn Collins, at the Western School of Feng Shui.

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Betty’s passion began in 1999, while living in Northern California, when she read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how people could reduce clutter and stress in their lives.  The topic was Feng Shui.

 “We live in a physical environment. If our physical environment is toxic to us, changes we are trying to make physically and mentally are not being supported. My goal is to help people see that if they create an environment they love being around, it will support whatever changes they want to make in their lives.”  ~ Betty Humphrey Fowler

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Listen to Betty’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Through her own life situations and those of her clients, Betty has repeatedly proven that, when you change your home environment, you will experience a renewed vitality and energy that creates positive change in your life.

As a tip to welcoming chi into your home, Betty says, “The front door is the mouth of chi where life energy comes into your home. A few times a week, come in through that door and see what a guest sees. Clear away debris, have a beautiful welcome mat, make sure your front door doesn’t squeak and that the doorbell is working. You want it to be welcoming to bring opportunity in.”

Check out Betty’s blog to learn more about feng shui.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Sarah Hunt Engsberg: Discovering a New Passion

Sarah Hunt Engsberg is a jewelry artist, painter and a professional farrier. Sarah has been serving the needs of horses and equestrians in the sports of Three-day Eventing, Combined Training, Dressage, and Endurance for nearly two decades. When her horseshoeing business was curtailed due to back issues, it was a natural progression for her to transfer from blacksmithing to metalsmithing.

“I first started thinking of myself as an artist with my work of shoeing horses. It took a back injury — literally getting thrown on the ground — to take a step back and become open-minded instead of being so focused on just the one thing. So this catastrophic event helped me discover a passion for creating jewelry. I knew I would get well physically enough to horseshoe again, but I knew that it would ultimately have to look different than it did before.” ~Sarah Hunt Engsberg

Listen to Sarah’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Sarah’s Art Jewelry is created for independent-minded wearers who wish to express their personalities through jewelry. Her jewelry incorporates traditional metalsmithing, with precious gems and semi-precious stones as well as natural and man-made found objects. Her pieces are one-of-a-kind originals.

She says, “My art comes from within, but it comes from somewhere else too. The art becomes spiritual as it allows me to create and express myself, but also to express whatever it’s coming from.”

Painting is yet another avenue for Sarah to express her joy and creativity.  Bright colors, strong contrasts and a bit of a whimsical attitude are the driving forces behind her desire to paint.  She incorporates textures and colors to express the movement and energy she feels and sees in the world around her.

About the colorful nature of her art Sarah says, “I love beautiful flowers, brightly colored clothes and, of course, big gaudy jewelry. Bright colors are just who I am and I express my spiritually through that sort of brightness. Color is joyous and bright colors seem happy and inviting. I see my life as an expression of joy.”

Find out more about Sarah at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Rebecca Ewing: Color Speaks to Us

Rebecca Ewing hallucinates for a living.

She is a designer and colorist who imagines how this color will look there; how that fabric will look on this sofa, and how these roof shingles will look that with that brick.

Rebecca taught color and design at the Art Institute of Atlanta, and taught color workshops from Canada to New Zealand (bungy jumped, too). She forecasts color trends—helping determine what color toothbrush or waste basket you’ll be able to buy in two years.

“Color speaks to us and it speaks for us—our resonance and what we’re attracted to. It affects our perception, our energy level and the way people respond to us.” ~Rebecca Ewing

Listen to Rebecca’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Paint manufacturers say that nearly 40% of consumer paint sales are within a week of a first purchase—to repaint a color gone bad. With thirty-five years of experience, Rebecca helps her clients get it right the first time.

Rebecca said her spirituality always finds expression in her art. She says, “I have come to believe that prayer isn’t just the one where we say ‘Dear God’ at the beginning. It is what we’re thinking and what we’re saying all day long.”

In teaching, speaking and writing, Rebecca encourages others to express themselves creatively. She comments, “Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly at first. You’re not going to learn anything if you’re not doing something wrong. Be willing to do it wrong and do it poorly to get to the point where you’re satisfied with your results. Play with it.”

Find out more about Rebecca at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Matt Janke: I Became Grateful

Matt Janke is a glassblower. He loves the medium, the craft and building the equipment. Matt has been on one mission for nearly 20 years… to expose and promote the art of glassblowing throughout the Southeast.

 “For many years I didn’t fully appreciate my skill level. I didn’t think of my talent as a gift from God — I approached it like work and thought of it as a curse at times. I finally realized I needed to change my attitude and I became grateful for my talent and skill. I realized it came a lot easier for me than for a lot of other people.” ~Matt Janke

Listen to Matt’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Upon arriving in Atlanta in 1986, Matt discovered there were no glassblowers and therefore no studios to work out of in the metro Atlanta area. He decided he was going to blow glass in Atlanta even if he had to build a shop himself. In 1990, Matt moved his family back to his native Ohio and his alma mater Kent State University to attend graduate school on a teaching assistantship where he received his Masters in Glassblowing.

Returning to Atlanta in 1992, Matt built a glass blowing studio in his basement. In July of 1996, Matt and his wife Kim opened Janke Studios – Atlanta’s first glassblowing studio.

Matt says, “Glassblowing is sort of like controlled chaos. I like to create chaos every once in a while. Everyone always tries to control everything.”

Matt and Kim run an open studio with the mission to expose and promote the art of glass making throughout the Southeast and to provide a means for other artists to practice their craft. Janke Studios is Atlanta’s premier glassblowing studio and virtually all of Atlanta’s glass artists have all been active in Janke Studios over the years.

One piece of advice he gives other artists is, “Be persistent if you have a dream or a vision. Don’t let obstacles get in the way — just go around them.”

Find out more about Matt, his work and classes offered through Janke Studios. Check out the video where Janke Studios was featured on CNN as a Small Business Success story.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Dixie Speck: Communing with God through Nature

For Dixie Speck, President, CEO and Lead Designer of Solterra Landscape Inc., plants and landscaping aren’t just a business, but an obsession. Her passion led her to leave a career in the engineering field, move to Atlanta, receive training in landscape design and horticulture, and start a landscaping business.

“I get to be outside every day enjoying communion with God through nature. After walking a property with a client, I walk through again on my own and start to get a vision of what the finished landscape could be and what plants could work well. I feel that God is leading me in that way and helping me figure out what would look great in my design for that particular property.” ~Dixie Speck

Listen to Dixie’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

Solterra has gained a reputation for delighting their customers both in creating beautiful, distinctive landscapes and providing excellent maintenance service. Solterra customers know that they can request special services and it will always be accommodated.

Solterra’s clients are looking for MORE – particularly more quality and more communication. Dixie and her Solterra team have won local and national awards for landscape design.

Dixie says, “I pay attention to little details — not just the flowers and the color, but the difference in the textures of plants and how they can work together a living design. I feel like an artist on a grand scale when I assemble the puzzle pieces together to create a beautiful landscape with a variety of plant material. I’m working with God’s gift of all these gorgeous plants.“

Dixie has taught classes on landscape design for Emory University’s Continuing Education Program, and is regularly asked to speak at Garden Clubs and other industry events.  She appeared as a guest designer for several episodes of HGTV’s Landscape Solutions. Dixie serves as an expert resource for Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine and is on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Urban Ag Council. 

Find out more about Dixie and Solterra Landscape at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

Jill Felts: I Draw Out My Prayers

Jill Felts is Founder, C.E.O., and lead designer of Atlanta-based Compelling Creations, Inc.

As a faith-based, party plan direct selling company, the name Compelling Creations has become synonymous to marketplace ministry as the inspirational jewelry is passed from one woman to another by independent sales Consultants.

“Some people write out their prayers and I kind of draw them out.” ~Jill Felts

Listen to Jill’s Art as Worship interview on Empower Radio.

She says, “I let ideas bake. I come up with a new jewelry line by paying attention to what keeps reappearing in my life throughout the year. I just doodle and doodle the same design over and over and over again.”

Jill finds that listening and being still are important to her creative process. She says, “I feel like God already knows everything about us and what our heart’s desire is and so a lot of it is being still and letting go and just letting the flow happen.”

Since 1996, Jill has channeled her entrepreneurial drive into a passion to share her beliefs through messages and symbols inscribed on jewelry. Selling the jewelry through a team of independent sales Consultants has touched lives nationwide.

Prior to forming Compelling Creations, Inc., Jill was a project manager and account executive with several target marketing companies in Washington, DC, New York, and Chicago. Jill holds a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communications and a B.A. in French from the University of Virginia.

Jill and her husband have been married for 24 years have two daughters age 20 and 17 who have grown up in the business.

See Compelling Creations jewelry line and contact Jill at

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Share your stories, your art, and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!