Virginia DuPre: Keeping Open to the Unknown

Virginia DuPre is an artist, art therapist and a former ordained minister.

She graduated from Candler School of Theology in 1994. While serving as an ordained minister, Virginia was a client of art therapy as a way of tending to her own needs and issues so that she could better help others. In 2000, she completed a Master Degree in Art Therapy from Vermont College at Norwich University and began helping people to heal, grow and expand spiritually through the use of art making.

“Making art has kept me open to the unknown — being willing to continue to grow and expand. Art holds mystery and that’s a big part of the spiritual experience. As long as I’m alive, I want to keep expanding into that. There’s something about the blank page and listening to the materials, not knowing what will come out of that process, that’s a way of practicing being open to the great mystery moving inside.” ~Virginia DuPre

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

Virginia works with adult individuals, couples and groups for art therapy and spiritual formation.  She says, “What I love about art therapy is that an image comes out of the person and is the source for healing and growth. The art, in a very concrete way, points people back to their own knowing.”

She makes personal art with found objects and recycled objects. Currently Virginia is making snake bone pendant necklaces — made from bones of snakes that were killed in farm management practices on a farm in South Georgia.

Virginia encourages others to connect to their creativity. She says, “Set aside time to play and listen to what wants to come up.”

Find out more about Virginia and her art therapy practice at www.virginiadupre.com.

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!

Sybil MacBeth: I Get Still By Moving

Sybil MacBeth is a dancer, a doodler, and a former community college mathematics professor. When she moved to Memphis in 2004, author Phyllis Tickle nudged Sybil to write about her prayer frustrations and the visual and active prayer practice she developed as the result of them. She now combines her experience in the mathematics classroom with her lifelong love of prayer to offer workshops that engage differing learning styles. As the author of Praying in Color Drawing a New Path to God, she has lead over 100 workshops and retreats. 

“I use this prayer involving art as a form of meditation to get still. I write the word ‘God’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ on a piece of paper. I start drawing and it invites my body into the prayer. I like to move and I’ve discovered that I get still by moving … even if it’s just moving my hand along the paper. It helps me get still on the inside because the body is no longer a distraction.” ~Sybil MacBeth

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

Sybil is also the author of Praying in Color Kids’ Edition. Her latest book is a Praying in Black and White: A Hands-On Practice for Men, a collaborative effort with her Episcopal priest husband, Andy MacBeth. Praying in Color has been translated into Korean, Spanish, and Italian.

She encourages others to embrace their creativity by saying, “Sometimes your boundaries are your freedom. Use the boundary as a starting off point. Choose to only draw circles. Or restrict your doodle to circles and lines and see what happens. That way you don’t have this whole big paper staring at you — those restrictions can allow you to be free.”

Sybil uses the arts as a pathway for building community and deepening her relationship with God. She is a life-long dancer. Sybil studied ballet and modern dance and performed with various regional dance groups. She currently dances with an improv dance group.

She commented, “Sometimes you become an expert by being a chronic novice — always willing to learn and willing to continue to grow.”

Sybil’s experience includes:

  • Artist-in-Residence Memphis Theological Seminary 2010-2011.
  • Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach from 1991 to 2004.
  • Graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a B.S. in Mathematics and College of William and Mary with an. M.S. in Mathematics.

She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Andy, an Episcopal priest.  Sybil is the mother of two adult sons.

Find out more about Sybil, her books and workshops at www.prayingincolor.com.

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!

Alice Ball: Learning from the Beautiful and the Not-So-Beautiful

Alice Ball is an explorer in the art of papermaking — gathering raw materials, sometimes embedding things in the wet paper before it dries and creating small collages.

“One of the commandments of papermaking is ‘thou shalt not love any piece of paper better than another.’ You learn from the beautiful pieces and from the not-so-beautiful ones. That’s not unlike worship for me. Some days worship is really hard. Some days it is a joyous and easy — a totally carefree thing. But it’s always there. It’s not something that has to be one way or another.” ~Alice Ball

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

Paper items are called ephemera — a word related to things like ghosts, mists and spirits that can’t be held onto for long. They remind you that beauty can be fleeting and you must be alert to be moved by it, or simply to enjoy its existence, however short.

Alice says, “My spiritual evolution and my art of papermaking are interactive. When you’re very occupied with doing things with your hands, somehow your Spirit is allowed to fully flower. Making paper has given me an experience of myself as creative. I sometime laugh and enjoy the ridiculousness of what I’m trying to do. It has challenged me to try things that seem rather silly and sometimes turn out surprisingly great. The doing of it has affected my way of being acquainted with myself.”

Alice often gives her art to friends.

You can connect with Alice via email at aliceball (at) gmail.com.

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 Tommey: Crafting a Creative Life

Matt Tommey is a basketry artist, a musician, author and worship leader. His interest in fine craft and handmade baskets began as a teenager, growing up in southern Georgia. His passion for using natural materials began to center around the creeping southern vine of kudzu while attending Young Harris College in the North Georgia mountains and the University of Georgia.

“A few years ago, my wife and I made a decision to say ‘NO’ to everything that was not creative at its core. That meant turning down jobs and moving from Atlanta to Asheville. It meant crafting a life that sustains what we are called to do, as opposed to running after the frustrations of the day. I’ve crafted my life in a way that makes it easy to be creative — that meant saying ‘no’ to stuff that sucks my time.” ~Matt Tommey

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

Now an Asheville, North Carolina resident, Matt’s handcrafted baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional Appalachian forms and wild, rustic, natural materials including natural vines (kudzu, wisteria, grapevine), branches (birch, oak, ash & poplar), long leaf pine needles and poplar bark. His interpretation of rib baskets and other traditional shapes offer a heartfelt nod to his roots in Appalachian basketry while offering a contemporary expression that is all his own.

Matt says, “Coming from a family of musicians and being a musician, I grew up with this idea of performing for God. As I’ve grown in my spirituality and relationship with God, the Lord began to draw me back into the woods. With my basketry, my relationship with God began to change from a position of performance to just being. Connecting with the solitude of the woods helped me to find a place of rest with my creativity. It’s in this place that I know that I’m loved and accepted beyond anything I would ever create. I know that I’m created in the image of God and my job is not to perform for Him, but to create with Him.”

Matt is a leader in the contemporary basketry movement, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Basketry Organization and as an instructor at schools, guilds and conventions around the country.

Through The Worship Studio and his book, Unlocking the Heart of the Artist, Matt encourages others to embrace their creativity. He says, “You are creative. The things that make you weird and unique are the very things that God put inside of you to express His glory on the earth — and for you to have a really good time in life. The abundant life comes when we connect to creativity and the greater spirit of God with our unique expression of creativity.”

Find out more about Matt at www.matttommey.com.

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!

Laura Biering: A Life of Creativity is a Spirited Life

Laura Biering, Owner and President of True Voices, is a certified Authentic Life and Leadership Coach. A 12-year veteran of the coaching profession, she has been around the block, as they say, when it comes to careers.  Before coming to coaching, she was (among other things) an opera singer and actress, a legal recruiter and a bank teller, a life drawing model (yes, that’s done nude) and a giant pickle. In addition, she is an Ordained Interfaith Minister and an Artist’s Way Evangelist.

Since finding her own True Voice, she has been working with individuals, partners and teams to create lives that are both deeply meaningful and downright fun. In other words, she helps others create realities that rock!

“I am created by a Creator, I am creative and I am supposed to create. A life of creativity is a spirited life. As we go about that in our own unique way, it makes us authentic.”  ~Laura Biering

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

Laura is the author of The RiskADay Journal:  28 Days to Being You Out Loud with Courage, Creativity and Confidence.  She is currently working on several writing projects, including a book of essays with the working title, Good Girl Gone Gay:  Some Not So Random Thoughts on Authenticity and Life.

She says, “If I am open to the Mystery, then the Mystery will appear in any creative endeavor. Things are created that I didn’t sit down and say, ‘Now I am going to create this.’ It’s always bigger, broader, wider, deeper or more than whatever outline I’ve had in my mind. That’s Divinity — that’s something different than I, myself, could produce.”

In addition to her experience, skills and training, Laura brings compassion, commitment, creativity, and humor to all that she does. She is passionate about Authentic Learning, Loving, Living and Leading, and enjoys retreating on her SE Georgia farm with her partner and their two, adorable, four-legged children, Dogberry and Little Bit.

Laura says, “It’s a cycle. As I create, I’m lead spiritually. And I’m lead spiritually to create. As long as I allow my own authenticity and accept my own expression as the gift that comes through me, they’ll never be separate.”

Find out more about Laura at www.truevoices.com.

Take at least one intentional risk every single day and then reap the rewards. Purchase The RiskADay Journal  and take the 28-day challenge.

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!

Tom Bird: Books Change the Energy Level of the Planet

Led by a vision, the answer to a prayer, 24 year old Tom Bird put into play what he saw that night 31 years ago, and the results were miraculous, instantaneous. Within six weeks, Tom sold his very first book to the third largest publisher in the world for an amount equivalent to three times his salary at the time as a publicist for the big league’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I see my writing as a calling. I believe there is divine timing with books. I’m part of that Divine timing, but I’m not necessarily in control of the Divine timing. Books are born and released at the time when they’re meant to be born and released. They help enlighten and change the energy level of the planet.”  ~Tom Bird

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

Tom has written twenty-three books and led tens of thousands to live their literary and personal writing dreams through over 4,200 lectures at the top colleges and universities in the country and by conducting hundreds of retreats.

He says, “All great writing comes from the same place. It’s from a spiritual connection to the Divine energy that we already are.”

Tom says he was meant to write and teach. He offers his Write Your Publishable Book in a Weekend Retreat at a variety of different locales nationally about a dozen times a year.

Sedona Writing Retreat

He comments, “If you have a book inside of you, by all means, pursue your writing. Pursue it aggressively, pursue it faithfully, pursue it out of desperation, but pursue it. Writing is a combination of a release of your message and the opportunity to step into your own Divinity — to get into alignment with your connection to Spirit and do what you’re meant to do in this world.”

Find out more about Tom, his books and retreats at www.tombird.com. Check out his freebies page for the audio and book he mentions in the interview.

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

Whitney Freya: Tapped Into a Different Level of Consciousness

Artist and teacher Whitney Freya believes that the key to our (r)evolution lies within our creative mind and it’s only when we embrace and amplify our creative power that we can truly align with our Higher Self, which is INFINITELY creative.

“My paintings help me encourage others to paint and create. I create videos or snap step-by-step pictures and show people the process — giving them permission to create without being perfect or being this great artist. The act of creating art takes you to a different level of consciousness and the more that you do it, the more tapped in you get.” ~Whitney Freya

Creative Goddess

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

At CreativelyFit.com Whitney inspires her online clients around the world to embrace their role as the ARTIST in the ART that is their life. She takes them on a JOURNEY within, where painting and doodling become meditation and an opportunity for the mind to expand, for the ego and the to-do list to melt away, and for a new personal confidence connected to Spirit to emerge.

Whitney has two published books on creativity, including The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit (endorsed by Dan Pink and Michael Gelb). Her unique application of art making & personal empowerment has garnered national attention on CBS News, Martha Stewart Radio, & HGTV. She has presented at The Esalen Institute, the American Creativity Association, the Creative Education Foundation, & the South Africa Creativity Conference.

She says, “Before there was a written language there was art. Early man made art to connect to spirit and we are rediscovering that now.”

Her creative & spiritual JOURNEY began in 1996 when she opened an art center with NO art training. As she became Creatively Fit, along with her clients, she also found her spirituality awakening on new levels. In 2012 she launched The SPIRIT Project 2012 and The Journey Retreats that unifies her two favorite pursuits: CREATIVITY & SPIRITUALITY.

Find out more about Whitney, her books, programs and retreats at www.CreativelyFit.com or www.WhitneyFreya.com.

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 www.HandsOnHues.com.

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!

Martin Dawe: Meditation is My Most Powerful Creative Tool

Martin C. Dawe is a sculptor who works primarily as a commissioned artist in a variety of mediums. Martin has become well known for his figurative and representational work, which ranges from loose, impressionist work to traditional sculptures with a late 19th century style. From the World Athletes Monument in Midtown Atlanta to his contemporary site installations, Marty has developed a very personal style of collaboration from his work with private, public and corporate clients. Marty was awarded the Honors Award for Arts by the American Institute of Architects, AIA Georgia, artist of the year in 2001.

 “Meditation for me is very close to my spirituality. When I am quieting all the gibberish, I’m breathing deeply and letting solutions come to me. Using meditation is the most powerful creative tool that I have.” ~Marty Dawe

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

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Marty moved to the United States when he was a child and grew up in New Jersey. He studied at Boston University School of Fine Arts and received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Georgia State University. He apprenticed for 8 years under Julian Harris.

Landing Gear

Marty began his own custom sculpture studio in 1987 and incorporated as CherryLion Studios, now the largest custom sculpture studio in Georgia, in 1994. He leads a team of talented apprentices at his 6,000 square foot studio near downtown Atlanta. Here Marty blends state-of-the-art technology with a disciplined, classical approach. He is known for his ability to collaborate, stay within budget and meet deadlines. The studio has executed hundreds of commissions including 25 large-scale public art installations. CherryLion Studios has developed mold-making and casting processes, as well as formed relationships with many area foundries.

Marty comments that he practices stillness meditation to connect with his creative flow, then the act of sculpting becomes a moving mediation. He says, “I would imagine for a lot of artists when they are making art, they are meditating and channeling. As you lose some of the ego and judgments, you’re making pieces that are better than what you could do by yourself.”

Elliott’s Circle

He considers his work problem solving. Marty says, “I like interaction and I like being presented with a situation that needs a solution. I have a collaborative personality and have been very interested in problems that were a lot bigger than me. Working with a group, we can create something bigger than an individual would.”

Selected commissions include:

Elliot’s Circle, The Galloway School, Atlanta GA 2010: An outdoor classroom with Elliott Galloway and a student in bronze sitting in a circle of GFRC logs on the ends of which are engraved all alumni since the founding of the school in 1969. Watch a timelapse video of Marty and his team as they create Elliott’s Circle.

Landing Gear, Terminus, Atlanta, GA, 2009: 12’ tall cast stainless steel abstract figure for courtyard.

Nourish

Nourish, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Atlanta, GA – 2005: Three sets of tables and chairs covered with pigmented translucent reliefs imbedded with donor recognition plates.

Equilibrium, Fulton County Juvenile Court Facility, Atlanta, GA – 2002: 158 colorful reliefs in the lobby of the new Juvenile Court building were commissioned as a part of the Fulton County Arts Council’s Art in Public Places. Martin held a summer workshop with children from the Juvenile Court to develop imagery for the reliefs. On the west wall, the reliefs are arranged in an abstract pattern and on the east wall, the same reliefs come together to form two 22’ dancing figures of children.

Equilibrium

Find out more about Marty and CherryLion Studios at www.cherrylion.com. Marty was featured in an Atlanta Business Chronicle article about the importance of public art. He is quoted in that article saying, “Successful public art can reinforce a sense of place; articulate complex concepts; present the ideals of a community; memorialize significant events and people; heal wounds; entertain; inform; and challenge the way we see our world, our city and ourselves. It makes the city a more desirable and meaningful place to live and provides a positive means of public engagement.”

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!

Cherilynn Morrow: Creativity is Playing at the Interfaces

Dr. Cherilynn Morrow has been a professor of Physics & Astronomy at Georgia State University with a focus on innovative instruction and education research. Her primary roles have been working with colleagues to re-vitalize introductory physics teaching in a collaborative, integrated lecture/lab environment called Studio Physics, and to make physics more accessible and engaging for future educators as well as for pre-professionals in medicine, law, and business. In addition, Cherilynn serves as Principal Investigator for a NASA grant ($500,000) to enhance Global Climate Change education in the state of Georgia.

As of August 1st, 2012, she is leaving her professorship to put greater focus on the pursuit of her artistic dreams. In addition to her passion for developing the minds and hearts of students and teachers in the context of science education, Dr. Morrow is also a singer and budding songwriter. She is a strong advocate and practitioner of integrating music and the arts in service to science education and loves to communicate in ways that transform rather than inform.

“One of the enormous sources of creativity is that interface between realms that seem, at first blush, unrelated. Like science and spirit or art and science. Where such realms weave together…. that’s where my being feels the most creatively activated. I love to explore those interfaces — allowing new possibilities to reveal themselves. This often involves collaborating and co-creating with people from a variety of domains… playing together at the interfaces, and developing new capacities within ourselves in the process.” ~Dr. Cherilynn Morrow

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

Cherilynn invented AstroJazz – a multi-sensory public education program that integrates live jazz music with beautiful imagery and the wonders of astronomy. For AstroJazz, Morrow sings, co-composes songs, writes the lyrics or lyrical parodies, researches the science content, and prepares the animated PowerPoint slides that, along with the songs. She interweaves astronomical commentary and audience interactivity throughout the program.

Atop Maunakea in Hawaii after completing the 7-hour NASA webcast of the Venus Transit. Photo by Ron Beard

In June 2012, the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawaii hosted AstroJazz in support of NASA-sponsored outreach activities related to the June 5, 2012 Venus Transit of the Sun. Cherilynn also served as a science and education commentator for the NASA webcast of this rare celestial event from atop Hawaii’s 14,000-ft volcano, Maunakea. Part 14 features Cherilynn doing a kinesthetic demonstration.

Cherilynn commented, “I am trained formally as an astronomer and I’m passionate about education. Through AstroJazz, I integrate music, astronomy, visual art, and education. I want the program to inspire people to greater connectivity with their cosmos …to stir their minds and hearts in a way that lets them experience a greater intimacy with our universe.” She goes on to say, “There are more atoms in the tip of your thumb than there are stars in the observable universe. All the quantum physics and relativity is going on in all of us! Human consciousness is a marvelous example of the creative and evolving energies of our universe.”

Cherilynn earned her BS in Physics (with minor equivalent in French) from George Mason University, and her PhD in Astrophysical, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Colorado. She’s worked as a graduate fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University, a visiting scientist at NASA Headquarters, an education program director at the Space Science Institute (SSI) and the SETI Institute.

She was the lead developer of the Saturn Educator Guide for NASA’s Cassini Program, and is the originator of a nationally renowned curriculum called Kinesthetic Astronomy (KA) which engages the human body to learn basic astronomy (for grade 6 through adult learners). Cherilynn developed the Family Guide to the Sun and several other interactive educational resources available online, some of which have been translated into other languages.

She says, “The universe is clearly a very creative place and all of us inherit that beautiful story of evolution and creativity. We’ve got to own it. And as we do so, our own creativity and sense of purpose — our soul’s code — will find its expression. We will know what we’re here to contribute because it makes us come alive. I just love Howard Thurman’s idea that what enlivens us is what the world needs.”

Cherilynn’s personal interests include aviation, athletics, and the arts. She loves to sing, dance, fly, dive, climb, write, run trails, and practice yoga. She has trained extensively with pioneering jazz vocalist Rhiannon. In August 2011, Cherilynn completed a 6-month, 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Pranakryia Atlanta.

Creative writing samples include her article for SPACE.com, which expresses some humorous perspectives on traditional and modern techniques for observing the Moon.

Find out more about Cherilynn and AstroJazz at www.astrojazz.net.

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!