Richard Stone: Lead With Your Heart to Move People

Rick Stone HeadshotRichard Stone is a visual artist, photographer, storyteller, and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His creative career also includes working with IDEAS, a former division of Disney, as their StoryAnalytics Master. His work spans many media, from works on paper to acrylic on canvas to macro-photography. His writing includes a focus on storytelling, a children’s novel, and he is currently working on a new screenplay entitled “The Maggid.”

Your bio mentions that you work in 4 medium(s). Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

For the past 4 years, I have focused on macro photography of trees’ bark. I do all of my composition in the camera, rarely cropping images after they are taken, shooting RAW. Processing the images is fairly straightforward. I start out in Adobe Lightroom and do some simple adjustments to the image adjusting the exposure if needed. I then use the NIK software suite to do some sharpening, and some minor improvement of the color saturation.

RStone Lichen 3My preference is to print these images large—4’ x 5’ or even larger. There is something very exciting to see what was a 2” x 2” section of a tree enlarged to those sizes—very abstract.

In the past I have done a great deal of work using oil pastels on paper—building up images with multiple layers and then using tools to scrape into the surface to reveal earlier layers.

Have also done a great deal of brush and ink drawings—mostly abstract figurative. I’ve extended this approach by using brushes like brooms to paint abstractly on large sheets of paper, then have selectively have torn or cut out sections of the paper, cut the same shapes out of a piece of black foam core, and then married that with another image on the backside of the foam core creating an interesting effect dimensionally.

RStone painting 6 green leaf on greenFinally, have done a number of large works on canvas depicting leaves. The method—lay the canvas on the floor, and then using ketchup bottles filled with house paint (preferably semi-gloss). I compose by squeezing the paint onto the canvas.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

In my early 20s. I dropped out of graduate school in psychology after I had completed my master’s degree and took myself off to the Art Institute of Chicago.

How would you describe your spirituality?

Probably more Buddhist at moment, but still am engaged with Judaism—more through its storytelling tradition.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

For me, the process of photographing a tree is a profound experience that brings me deeply into communion with this other being, joyfully becoming a witness to its beauty.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

Martin Buber talks about 2 kinds of relationships we can have with the world. I-It in which the world has utilitarian value for us; and I-Thou, in which we meet the other as a sacred being and as it is. For me this is what photographing trees does for me. And every encounter in this way is for me a profound experience of the mystery of this life.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

RStone Gumbo Limbo Low ResAttending to small details often is what takes me into this kind of flow. It’s just about attention outside of myself.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

I have collaborated for years on a host of creative projects as a writer, having written a screenplay and a sitcom with some friends. The collaborative process proved to be great fun, and a profound act of letting go of any attachment to anything. If one of us didn’t like something the other came up with it was immediately dropped until we could find something that we all could agree was funny—produced a better script I think.

In contrast I’m working on a screenplay right now solo—I think not until I get some others to read it will I know whether I hit the mark or need to go back to the drawing board.

How do ideas come to you?RStone Aphrodite Low Res

Little things often set them off. I was driving one day and stopped at a light and there was a big clump of pampas grass in the median. I immediately imagined that it was the hair of a creature whose head was just under the surface. That led me to imagine that all the trees are actually the tops of the heads of large creatures that became known as Treemungermen—the key characters in an eco-spiritual children’s novel entitled The Kingdom of Nowt.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

If it’s something that I become somewhat obsessed about and think about all the time, then I pursue it.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

Find your own voice—and I mean that for writing as well as the visual arts. And lead with your heart not your head. Things that are intellectually interesting but lacking heart rarely reach an aesthetic threshold in my book, and don’t move people.

Thanks Richard!

See his photos at Richard’s books The Healing Art of Storytelling, Stories: The Family Legacy, The Kingdom of Nowt, and The Patient Survival Handbook (co-authored with Stephen Powell) can all be purchased on Amazon. His board game Pitch-A-Story can be purchased at

If you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship, email me at vlowry (@) While I’m no longer recording new episodes for the Art as Worship radio show, I’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interview each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Namaste!

Wes Molebash: Your Values Are Expressed in Your Art

Wes Molebash picArtist Wes Molebash is an illustrator and creator of cartoons.

Can you tell me more about yourself and your art?

I’m Wes Molebash and I draw cartoons. I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been actively chasing this dream for over ten years, now. I live in southern Ohio with my wife, Kari, and our son, Parker.

My work is a blend of traditional and digital elements. I draw and ink most everything by hand, and then I scan the black-and-white art into Photoshop to apply color. I use a Wacom Cintiq 12WX when working digitally.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

WMolebash art2When I was in 6th grade, some artists came to our school to discuss creativity and art with our class. I remember someone asked, “How do you know when you’re an artist?” and one of the presenters responded with, “You’re an artist when you say you’re an artist.”

I looked at my friend sitting next to me and said, “I’m an artist.” The artists must’ve overheard me, because one of them looked at me and said, “YEAH!”

So that was the moment.

How would you describe your spirituality?

I’m a Christian and my faith is very important to me. I hesitate to say I’m “devout” because I think that makes me sound more pious than I really am. But my faith is a huge influence in all areas of my life. WMolebash art5

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

My faith has been expressed in different ways in my art. For the past ten years I’ve been drawing comic strips, and—for the most part—the cartoons were your typical slice-of-life fare; nothing overtly Christian about them. However, I just ended a comic strip that was commentary on the Christian subculture, so my faith wasn’t as subversive as it was in my previous work. I’m tilting back the other way with my current projects, though.

I believe that whatever your values are, they will be expressed in your work whether you want them to or not. Whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim or Hindu or atheist, that stuff is gonna come out in your work. Don’t force it. It’ll be better that way.

In all my work, I’ve never tried to evangelize. That’s never been a priority. Honesty is a priority. I wish it was more of a priority for other “Christian” artists. Maybe we wouldn’t have as much schlocky “Christian” art clogging up the marketplace.WMosebash art1

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

I don’t have a specific story, but I think that being an artist affects my faith in God. I’m a pretty abstract thinker and I have a wild imagination (as most creatives do), and I think that these traits make it easier for me to believe in God. I don’t think I have an unintelligent faith, but I do believe that my vivid imagination has caused me not to struggle with certain aspects of God that others might find unbelievable or even reprehensible.

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating?

I don’t really experience a divine connection while I’m creating. I think a lot while I’m drawing. Sometimes I think about God. Sometimes I think about what we’re gonna have for dinner. Most of the time I’m thinking about the work.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

WMolebash art4It’s definitely more fun and rewarding to work alone. Working alone means I’m working on one of my ideas, and I like my ideas the best.

How do ideas come to you?

Ideas come whenever they feel like it. The trick is learning how to harness them. Sometimes ideas come when you need to be focusing on other things, so you gotta learn how to hold on to an idea and mentally stick it in your back pocket until the appropriate times comes to work on it. I’m getting better at this, but I’m not great.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

I just “know.” I’ll be driving down the road and a fun idea will enter my brain and I can’t get rid of it. It starts rolling around in my head and becomes a huge distraction. I’ll write it down and—if I’m still excited about it a day or two later—then I know it’s got legs.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

NUMBER ONE: Listen to lots of great music; all different genres. So many stories can be developed by simply listening to a song. Music plays such a vital role in my ideation process. You gotta have good jams. It’s imperative.

NUMBER TWO: Do the work! Quit second-guessing yourself! Set a schedule and a timeline and get the work done! There will always be someone better than you! There will always be someone with more success than you! Don’t let that stop you!WMolebash art3

How can our readers find our more about you and your work?

I blog at
I tweet at @THEWesMolebash
I’m on Facebook at

Thanks Wes!

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!

Maria Howell: As a Sensitive Artist, You Want to Know About Life

PowerfulActress, Singer and Voiceover artist, Maria Howell is best known as the choir soloist from the movie “The Color Purple.”

“Art and spirituality are like singing and acting for me. Art is an expression of the spiritual side of me so as I grow with one, it helps the other. It’s a volleying back and forth like my singing and acting have been. I want both. As I learn more and I grow, I want to know more. As a sensitive artist, you want to know about life—you want to know what it means.” ~Maria Howell

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

MHowell as Grace

Maria stars as Grace in NBC’s “Revolution.”

As an actress, she has appeared in Lifetime’s hit shows, Army Wives and Drop Dead Diva, the CW’s Vampire Diaries, FOX’s Past Life, ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, Meet the Browns, and House of Payne, as well as the acclaimed theatrical release The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock.  She has worked alongside, Mario Van Peebles and Wendy Raquel Robinson in BET’s hit series The Game, Queen Latifah’s Single Ladies and USA’s hit show Necessary Roughness, starring Calli Thorne.  She played Jules’ doctor (Cameron Diaz), in What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and in the role of “Mrs. Easle” in the ABC Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie Firelight, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.

revolution_nbc_smShe now joins the regular cast of the hit TV series Revolution on NBC.  Her theatrical releases in 2013 include, Addicted, starring Sharon Leal and Boris Kodjoe and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as “Seeder.”  She also joins the cast of Devious Maids, as attorney “Ida Hayes.”

Maria says, “The one seamless thing in my life has been singing and acting. Through singing, I give of myself and open up by telling stories. I’m touching people literally and figuratively. With acting, I feel I can inspire people by letting them see this African-American face doing something they might have imagined doing themselves. Any time I sing or act from the right mindset—from the right heart—I hope someone will be inspired. It’s a beautiful thing to be aware of God and know that in your art, you are connected.”

Throughout her career, Maria has shared the musical stage with legendary artists like Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Ray Charles and Earl Klugh. After a very successful stint in Asia, Maria relocated back to the US and performed weekly at Sambuca Jazz Café for nine consecutive years…2002 to its closing in December 2010. She and pianist Bill Wilson (son of legendary jazz pianist Teddy Wilson), held the distinction of being the longest running act at the Atlanta location. Maria has released several CD recordings, with the most recent release titled Reflections, a retrosMaria Howell singing 2pective collection.

She encourages other artists by saying, “I define passion as something that won’t let you go. Think about what your passion is and go for it. Even if you don’t have a fully developed plan, just start with something. Start with this step and go forward. Things somehow come to you if you put it out there. So many things have come into my life that didn’t come in the package I imagined. Connect the emotion with the experience and just live it.”

Learn more about Maria and her work at Links to her Facebook and Twitter pages are on her website.

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!

Walter (T.W.) Lawrence: Everybody Has a Story

TW Lawrence photoAuthor Walter Lawrence grew up in Texas, where his father practiced veterinary medicine and his mother taught nursing. He and his sister were raised in a family that valued the origin and meaning of words.

He majored in English in college and later earned a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing. Walter has published numerous freelance magazine and newspaper articles, and both his poetry and short stories have won numerous awards.

“Everybody has a story. One of the reasons I talk to strangers is to find out what cool story they have to tell me. When I’m writing, my mind pulls up those stories and I’m able to use them. People cross your path for a reason and you don’t always know what it is at the start.” ~Walter (T.W.) Lawrence TW Lawrence Dusty and the Cowboy

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

Walter’s latest artistic venture has been to write and record stories specifically as audio downloads on Audible and iTunes.

He says, “Upon reflection, I was divinely led to create this series of short stories called Dusty and the Cowboy. The door was opened and I had sense enough to step through. After hearing an audio recording of Dusty, the first story in the series, I realized the unnamed cowboy was me. The cowboy was looking for direction, asked for divine help and began his journey. It’s interesting to see the doors that have opened. I’m following the path to see where it takes me.”

He recently made his first Nashville recording to be used as the theme song to the audio of Dusty and the Cowboy. Walter writes under the pen name T.W. Lawrence.

TW Lawrence Take Me To TexasWalter’s advice for other writers, “Be yourself—you have to find your voice. To do that, you have to listen and trust the voice inside of you. You have let go of this world and open yourself up to the world of creativity and the world of divinity.”

Visit for a free download of the short story Dusty. On Amazon and Audible, find printed and audio books by Walter (aka T.W. Lawrence) with titles Take Me To Texas, T.W. Lawrence’s Cowboy Collection and Dusty and the Cowboy. Audio books are also available on iTunes. TW Lawrence Cowboy Collection

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!

Michael Belk: God’s Project

Michael Belk picDuring the past 30 years, Michael Belk’s photography has appeared in fashion publications including Vogue, Elle, GQ and Vanity Fair for clients that included Nautica, J.Crew and others.

Combining his gift for photography with a natural sense for sales and marketing savvy, Michael created a boutique fashion-advertising agency, Michael Belk & Company. He says his work has primarily been about doing something he loved while traveling the world, working with many great models and crews in the industry. Michael later owned a fine art photography gallery in Florida. MBelk 2246

In 2008, Michael began a project to produce a collection of fine art photographs that would depict messages of Jesus and show His relevance in our modern world. Published in late 2009, Journeys with the Messiah, consists of 45 images and the “parable-like” messages they depict.

“I felt a desire and prompting to create this series of photographs depicting the messages of Christ. In the end, it isn’t about the images—it’s about my relationship with God. He is the Creator. When I get carried away about the project from a business standpoint or from a creative standpoint, I stand back and take a breath. Then say to myself, ‘Not my project, His project. He’s just letting me work on it.’” ~Michael Belk

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

MBelk 2263He says, “I sensed that religion has given Jesus Christ a bad rap. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He came to testify to the unusual truth of his Father and how that frees us up to live these incredible lives while we’re here on earth. I wanted to show that Jesus’ message is relevant today—for people to realize that they can embrace Jesus for who he is rather than fear him.”

The images have been interpreted beyond the limited-edition, signed & numbered fine art original to include a coffee table book, behind the scenes DVD, posters and more. Michael travels to churches and other venues to present the images in an exciting audio/visual presentation. An exhibit and more images are planned.

With nearly 100 people on the team assembled to create the images for Journey with the Messiah, Michael believes in the power of collaboration. He says, “I learned in the fashion industry that Michael Belk taking a picture does not make the picture. It’s the collaborative effort of good hair and makeup people. Good costuming people. Good lighting people. Great assistance. Great producers. All of those things come together. God tells me what the idea is, but I’m always looking for ideas from people working with me as we’re putting the details of an image together. A collaborative effort is the most fun by far.” MBelk 2273

Visit to view the gallery of fine art photographs created for Journeys with the Messiah. Watch the four-minute video that beautifully shares the story of creating these photos as they were shot in the Italian city of Matera.

See more of Michael’s work, including his fashion photography, 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!

Patrick McDonnell: Art Helps Me Lose My Ego

Cartoonist and author Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the award-winning MUTTS comic strip. Syndicated in 1994, MUTTS now appears in over 700 print newspapers worldwide, and has its home on the web at

“My art and spirituality inspire each other. Being an artist made me start thinking about spirituality. When I read The Power of Now, it was the artist in me that understood it. Making art is a prayer and meditation — it helps me lose my ego. So art is definitely part of my spiritual process.” ~Patrick McDonnell

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

Patrick has received numerous awards for his art, including the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, and international recognition for his promotion of animal protection.  He has over 20 books in print including The New York Times bestsellers The Gift of Nothing, Hug Time, The Monsters’ Monster and 2012 Caldecott Honor book Me … Jane, which is a biography of the childhood of Dr. Jane Goodall.  In 2009, McDonnell collaborated with The Power of Now author Eckhart Tolle to create Guardians of Being.

Earl, a Jack Russell Terrier, was Patrick’s real life inspiration for MUTTS for 19 years. Patrick says, “I always felt if I could capture any of his joy of life in my comic, I was doing my job.”

Regarding the constant pressure of meeting deadlines, Patrick says, “When you do a daily comic strip, having faith is a big part of it. I have faith in the Creator and in the creative powers that something’s going to happen. I’ve always approached art on a faith basis — not to struggle with it, but to let it happen.”

In addition to his artistic commitments of his daily comic strip, books and the upcoming MUTTS movie, Patrick is a member of the national Boards of Directors for The Humane Society of the United States, The Fund for Animals and The Charles M. Schulz Museum.

Find out more about Patrick and MUTTS 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!

Karen Vuranch: God’s Energy Comes Through Me

Karen Vuranch weaves together a love of history, a passion for stories and a sense of community. She has toured throughout the United States with her traditional storytelling and living history performances, as well as made five performance tours of Wales and England performing her play, Coal Camp Memories. In 2002, Karen participated in storytelling exchange in China.

“The ancient Celtics had the sense that God is in everything and everything you do is spiritual. That’s how I look at my life — spirituality is part of everything that I do. When I’m creating, I draw upon God’s energy, but I also just let it come out through me.” ~Karen Vuranch

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

Karen brings history to life with historical interpretations of women from America’s past. She recreates author Pearl Buck; labor organizer Mother Jones; Indian captive Mary Draper Ingles, Civil War soldier and spy Emma Edmonds, humanitarian Clara Barton, Renaissance pirate Grace O’Malley, Wild West Outlaw Belle Starr and, the first lady of food, Julia Child, Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons. Her newest character is beloved children’s writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Additionally, she performs a WWII play, Homefront.

On a lighter side, Karen writes and produces audience participation murder mysteries. She often works with community groups, creating a production in just two or three days using members of the community.  She also has a troupe of actors that travel to present the mysteries. The In Cahoots Players are a troupe of incredibly talented actors from Southern West Virginia. Collectively, they have performed in plays, musicals and murder mysteries throughout the region. Their stage presence, lively and spontaneous banter and quick replies make for a hilarious evening of entertainment.

Karen says, “The art of storytelling and live performance becomes intrinsically involved with the audience  — the audience is as much a part of it as I am. I have a little mantra that I always do before I go onstage. When I offer my work to God, the connection with the audience is magical.”

Karen has been honored by many organizations including the Corridor Tourism L Commission, receiving the Robert C. Byrd Community Service Award in April of 2005. Other honors include the McWhorter Achievment Award from the West Virginia Storytelling Guild; Performing Artist of the Year for Tamarack, the West Virginia state arts center; the Spirit of West Virginia Award from the state tourism office and the Celebrate Women Award from the Women’s Commission of the West Virginia Legislature.  In 1994, Karen and her husband, Gene Worthington, performed together at the Ellipse Theatre at the White House.  On her audio tape, My Grandmother’s Necklace, Karen performs stories she has written and collected.  She is currently in production with a new CD of the stories and song show Potluck: Stories and Songs about Women, Wisdom and Food, which she performs with Julie Adams and Colleen Anderson. Karen also has completed a DVD of Coal Camp Memories.

Karen graduated from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio with double majors in Sociology/Social Work and Theatre.  She earned a M.A. from the Marshall University Graduate College in Humanities, focusing on American Studies with a minor in Celtic Studies. In addition to her work as a storyteller and actress, Karen is an adjunct faculty for Concord University, teaching Theatre, Speech and Appalachian Studies. She is a freelance consultant for the Coal Heritage Highway Authority. For this organization, she wrote and developed their Interpretation Plan, organized an event celebrating coalfield baseball and is currently directing an oral history project.

Karen says, “My spiritual beliefs and artistic growth are totally intertwined with each other. As I create, I draw upon spiritual energy. As I become more of a spiritual person, I become a better artist.”

Find out more about Karen and her upcoming shows at Here is a recent article about Karen from the Register Herald newspaper in Beckley, WV.

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!

Carrie Newcomer: There’s a Spiritual Current in My Work

Carrie Newcomer is a rare breed of singer/songwriter: the kind who illuminates life with startling depth, humor and clarity. Her ability for sharp observation of the world lead the Dallas Morning News to rave, “She’s the kind of artist whose music makes you stop, think and then say, ‘that is so true’.” She has been described as “a soaring songstress” by Billboard, a “prairie mystic” by the Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone has said that she “asks all the right questions.”

“There’s a spiritual current in my work because there’s a spiritual current in my life. ~Carrie Newcomer

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

She says, “When someone creates a work of art or when we hear a song and a person has put their finger right on the open palm of something true, it shakes the world just a little bit.”   

In the fall of 2011 Carrie released her fifteenth album, Everything is Everywhere, as a special benefit project for the Interfaith Hunger Initiative on Available Light Records. The Interfaith Hunger Initiative is an organization including faith leaders and laity Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh congregations, dedicated to the common cause of providing for those most vulnerable in our communities. Carrie says, “In a time when we are encouraged to fear difference or diversity, Everything is Everywhere was created as an alternative to fear and an affirmation of creative and compassionate engagement. I am one of a growing number of people who are choosing to not put the Sacred in such a small container.” 

She says, “We live in a world of distractions and it’s easy to not be present in our own lives. But when I’m here, when I am present in attention, I start to see miracles and I sense the sacred everywhere. At the center of what I am doing is an artistic practice but it’s also a spiritual practice. It’s to be here and to be open — to what’s right here, right now in front of me — and then write about it.”

Carrie internationally facilitates workshops and presents keynotes on the topics of songwriting, spirituality and vocation at colleges, universities, and spiritual communities, retreat centers. Newcomer, a Quaker, cuts across secular and spiritual boundaries. In recent years, she has emerged as a respected and recognized artistic voice for the progressive spiritual community.

Find out more about Carrie and listen to free samples of her songs at Click on the link titled Messages from Carrie to read her poems and articles. I wonder if Carrie’s poem titled “The Dare” will offer as much encouragement to you as much as it has to me?

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

Chuck Cogliandro: Drumming Brings So Much Joy

Chuck Cogliandro is a drummer, teacher, healing practitioner and Director of Kumandi Drums & Healing. Since 1992, Chuck’s path has included bringing people together in the shared joy of West African drumming.  He is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and is completing his second year of studies in Family Constellations work with Peter and Jamy Faust.

“Drumming brings so much joy. It gets people out of their minds and out of their anxieties – out of the mental level of worrying. It raises their energetic level of vibration into the spiritual level. That’s where healing comes through the music and the drums. ~Chuck Cogliandro

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

Chuck annually hosts and organizes the Kumandi African Drum & Dance Camp near Asheville.  He has directed performing community and professional drumming groups, helped organize and performed with the 100-member drum tribe in the Opening Ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympic Games, and has made CD, commercial and soundtrack recordings.

Chuck’s company name, Kumandi, is from the Malinke language spoken in West Africa. He says, “Kumandi means to call or to invite or to sound. So that’s the purpose of the drums – to call people together and to invite them to make sound.” Chuck adds, “Drumming is powerful. It creates vibration that affects you on all levels. On the physical level, your body feels the music and the vibration coming from the drum. Your spirit is touched from the people creating this vibration collectively. Especially with African drumming, drumming is used to bring the community together to celebrate.” 

His longing is to co-create communities for transformation, using expressive elements of drumming, music, voice and movement. Chuck is also an enrichment instructor at Atlanta’s Orion School, drumming with children diagnosed with autism and ADHD.

Find out more about Chuck 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!

Shelly Ryan: Laughter is the Universal Language

Michele (Shelly) Wendling Ryan is a comedian and an author. She was born funny with a vivid imagination. Being an only child this trait was useful, although her parents never determined how many imaginary siblings Shelly had. By high school, she realized a sense of humor was more than entertaining; it was therapeutic.

“Laughter connects people. Look at how contagious it is. Someone can be laughing and even if you don’t know what they are laughing about, it makes you want to start laughing.” ~Shelly Ryan

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

Shelly’s spirituality is based in gratitude and she believes her unique blend of humor is a gift from God. Her mission is to make the world a happier, healthier place. Fans comment how laughing with Shelly helps them cope with both emotional and physical pain.

The conglomerate of Shelly’s work, known as Comedylove, includes:

  • Sketch comedy scripts, several  of which have been performed in Atlanta
  • Stand-up comedian (her closest brush with fame was  Nickelodeon at Nite’s  “Funniest Mom Contest”) and emceeing a variety of charitable events in the Southeast
  • Creating ripples of laughter world-wide on the airwaves plus numerous guest appearances; her own comedy cabaret, variety talk show and ovarian cancer awareness podcast Feel Teal Talk
  • Prolific blogger, humor columnist and regular contributor to Feel Teal Magazine
  • Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy her book Floor It! Road Trips Down the Humor Highway
  • She shares her own fairy tale in her CD Shelly’s Nursery Rhymes: The REST of the Story…

Contact Shelly at her website and “like” her Facebook page Shelly Ryan Comedy. Join a group of other lovers of laughter at The Seriously Weird World of Shelly Ryan.

Listen each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio to hear another artist’s story. Recommend an artist for us to interview or share your comments below or on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!