Hope and Healing by Hayden Michelle

 When asked to contribute work to, “CREATE: Expressions of Hope and Healing through the Arts”, I felt honored. An all-too-uncommon theme for an exhibit, healing art offers unique insight into growing through pain to reclaim our truest selves.  While aware of the inherent vulnerability, I am grateful to have the opportunity to share what has often been a hidden part of my art and life.

"LOOKING WITHIN", 1987, (36 x 48 inches),  graphite, 1st self-portrait (not in current exhibit)

Art has been a life-saving path that I began using long ago, and continues to provide relief and hope like no other source.  It connects me more deeply to myself, providing perspective and reflecting my own often unconscious process of change.

Like most, I feel ill at ease when sharing my wounds.  Yet, I truly believe that art made from these protected places bridges the artist and the viewer, connecting our mutual experience of being human, and emphasizing the overlap we share, despite our differences.  Art that engages the healing process may tap deep pain, eliciting despair, feeling confrontive.  Yet, I know this connection is worth the price, and it is a privilege when I am part of the circuit that is made.  It is my hope that restorative energy is felt by the viewer, and absorbed into those parts of themselves that need to be seen, that need to be heard.

"Tear Bottle", 2015, (11 x 22 x 24 inches) (with detail images, below)

The first piece is entitled, “Tear Bottle”, and was originally created for an exhibit at the end of 2015, “Another Way of Keeping a Diary”.  I wrote about the journey of this sculpture here, and am grateful to show this piece again.  After 3 reconstructions-- the first necessitated after a fire in our home, the second after severe damage sustained in cross-country shipment, I faced a third time, after damage in return transit .  To say that I have been feeling resistance about this would be an understatement, as it is a complex sculpture, and a daunting task to repeatedly undertake.

Not exactly feeling the “third time is the charm” energy, I allowed myself to resist beginning the repair for one whole year before reopening the box and surveying the damage.  It made me feel the multiple losses (inherent in the meaning of the piece, as well as in the damage to the sculpture) as I saw the extent of the destruction, and made me realize how resistance can protect us from strong feelings/tasks that are difficult to face.  This putting aside allowed me some time to be with other parts of my life and creating that were not about brokenness, all the while knowing I would need to come back and repair yet again.

I realize now, that this acceptance fortified me.  Rather than judging myself for feeling agitated, overwhelmed, angry, and sad, I let those feelings be, reflecting on them and re-examining them until they were ready to move on and I was ready to work—respite which actually gave me a fresh burst of energy.  I was now able to view it as an opportunity to make the piece physically stronger, more detailed, and more integrated than before, and realized what a parallel this is to how we often experience repeat patterns that are painful in our lives.

 It occurred to me that although I have many times in my life thought, “I can’t do this… not again… I don’t know where to begin… this is the pits… etc., etc.,” that each time, I mustered courage and at least a bit of determination to try again, and found in doing so, that I returned with new perspective and tools learned from experience, with increased awareness and learning about who I am and how I cope.  Finding some insight in the midst of the challenge further energized the repair process.  A wise friend of mine tenderly offered that perhaps part of the meaning might be that I continue to hold the ability to repair myself in ways still needing attention.  Gulp.  How we all need that reminder of our inner strength to keep meeting what comes our way, in big and small ways, and to grow beyond what we previously imagined…

“Tear Bottle” got its name when i discovered how tear bottles have been used throughout history as vessels to hold the sorrow of those in mourning, often placed in tombs to show respect for those who died.  Creating this piece moved me to my core, opening to my deepest truth of the sexual violation I suffered.  By accepting the depth of how this trauma has affected all parts of me, it enables me to feel and express my outrage and grief at that which lives in my bones still, and tragically, in the bones of countless others.  As tears are often believed to hold healing properties, allowing my own to flow enables me to find release, and honors life energy that has been taken, as well as widens my view to acknowledge the new life which has been created in this same pelvis...  the miracles of my children.  Intentionally making this bovine pelvis a safe and reverent space helped me to widen my view to see that not just trauma, but joy and liberation, are within my body and spirit, emanating out when I feel connected to my center, surrendering to what is. 


My second piece, “Reclaiming the Sacred”, was made during the first healing art workshop I co-led 5 years ago, and is a compilation of images originally created by many artists, curated from magazines and collaged together into a triptych that gives a glimpse into the ongoing process of healing my spirit.  It is an arduous journey examining how my spirituality and trust in the Universe was deeply damaged by the betrayal, lack of safety, and loss of self the trauma left.   I summon courage daily to face this loss, while holding gratitude for remaining connected to the Sacred that is ever-present.

"Reclaiming the Sacred", 2010, (60 x 32 x 12 inches), (detail images below, reworked with colored pigment and encaustic)


  And my last piece in the show, “Emerging”, is a ceramic piece I made long ago, 1992.   Created in early adulthood while beginning to confront the depths of fall-out that childhood sexual abuse left on my mind/body/spirit… my inner parts responded-- the fatigue of grief,  pulling inward for self-protection while confronting inwardly and then outwardly telling the truth, and desire for healing and release from what had been held silent for so long.  This piece is one of a series of five sculptures, all depicting different parts of reclaiming myself.

"Emerging", 1992, (5.5 x 9 x 6 inches), (detail images, below)


I am grateful for the gift of making art which so deeply and freely offers healing.  I am aware of the privilege of having the safety which enables me to speak up about suffering and healing… not just my own, but what is experienced by every human being.  I am indebted to those in my life who support and love me on this imperfect path.  It is such a gift not to be alone.  As I wrote on the end page of my compilation of healing art book made for WITNESS, my wish for you, as you view this art, is to “release anything which is deadening to your spirit”, an anonymous quote discovered scrawled onto a wall in college that has become a personal mantra.  Certainly, we all have something that would benefit from release, and perhaps we can lighten the load by sharing it with each other…

"Release", 2010, photograph, mixed media, WITNESS Project

"Release", 2010, photograph, mixed media, WITNESS Project

 [“CREATE: Expressions of Hope and Healing through the Arts”, opens on March 17, 5-8 p.m., at ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill Street, Lexington, KY, and runs through Saturday, March 25.  The evening will include the exhibit, as well as healing art demonstrations, discussion of music as therapy, and a dance performance, portraying the power of movement.  There will be a panel discussion the following morning, Saturday, March 18, from 10:30—12:30 p.m., to discuss further how we can all heal from accessing the power of art.  I hope to see you there, even if I am shaking in my boots!}]



New Year, New Work! by Hayden Michelle

("Propel", 2017)

The beginning of this year has brought much fullness and intensity, on so many levels.  As our country and world have been adjusting to the new transition of power, I, like many, have felt overwhelmed by the enormity of issues at hand.  One way I have been channeling my feelings has been through my art, always a safe outlet and source of healing.  It has been good to balance the outward energy of confronting change with being alone, working at my own pace, needing only to listen to the rhythm of my hands and heart.  

It is important for all of us to feel some sense of control over our lives, and although making art may seem like a small bit of choice, it is vital for me.  Perhaps because there is so much oppression and pain in the world,  do I need to create things that bring me peace and comfort, and at times, express my own challenges of this journey. 

All of these pieces were started months ago, in many different stages.  I seem to keep returning to creatures oceanic in nature, and wonder if that is not because of the expansiveness and mystery that the sea offers... offering some respite, escape, and connection to a greater whole.

I am really enjoying playing with color, and making things more wild than they might even be in real life (at least around the hills where we live).  That certainly is a very freeing part of making art!  I am teaching kids sculpture at our homeschooling co-op again this semester, and keep telling them the same thing-- there is no way to be wrong in creating... all of it is part of the whole of who we are.  It is such permission and freedom to just allow the expression of what wants to come out.  My hope is that everyone can allow themselves this opportunity in as many ways as they can.

"Propel", 2017, (4 x 18 x 4.25 inches)

Art glass, resplendent with imaginable form, was altered and printed on kozo, layered with fused wax, cut into intricate separate forms, rebuilt into one piece, adorned with mulberry paper and inclusion of hand-made paper clay, its protrusions coated in wax, all hand-colored in powdered pigment.  This creature appears able to propel itself across the ocean floor, perhaps never seen by human eyes, yet divine because it exists, leaving me pondering what serves to propel us forward in our lives.

It has been very exciting to delve into incorporating paper clay into my encaustic work, something I have been slowly experimenting with in the last year.  Making it by hand was an experience in and of itself, and photos that documented the terribly messy and long process would have provided some comic relief.  But alas, I will stay focused here, and share some of the end result :).  I can say that my fingers were exceedingly happy to plunge into wet clay again, as it has been a long-time favorite material, as primal as they come...

This other piece was a furthering in exploration, as I returned to printing onto textile rather than paper.  It has a very solid feel, and more work will be made this way.  I am sharing accompanying artist statements with the sculptures, as they speak succinctly for the pieces...

"Otherworldly", 2017, (4.25 x 12. 25 x 4 inches)

Otherworldly sprung up from a photo of hand-made art glass, its vibrant color and energy awaiting interpretation.  The altered pattern was printed on fabric, layered with fused wax, cut into new shape, sculpted, hand-sewn, embedded with wire tentacles, and hand-colored with powdered mineral pigment.  The newly embodied creature could have emerged from the sea, or perhaps the depths of my unconscious, reminding me of the beauty that resides both within and around me when I truly look.

The last 4 pieces were done in a series for a submission, and I enjoyed the challenge of needing to contain my work to 12 x 12 cradled panels.  I have previously incorporated my sculptural work onto panels, but this was more fully expressed.  Like the ocean, there is much symbolism in butterflies and moths, and I have collected found wings for some time.  Intentionally bringing them together brought some comfort, and made me realize what a past year of change this has been for me and my family...

"Vulnerable", 2017, (12.25 x 12 x 4.25 inches)

A small Io Moth wing discovered on the road under a street lamp grew much larger than life, as it was printed on kozo paper, layered with encaustic medium, hand-carved over the surface, sculpted, and wired onto a layered beeswax cradled panel, where organic swirls depicting movement were carved. Painted with oils to accentuate the habitat of the moth, I was struck by the fact that this wing was all that remained by morning, reminded of our vulnerability, and of the natural cycle of life.

"Fragile", 2017, (12 x 12 x 4.25 inches)

When discovering bits of brokenness, I pause in silence, marveling at the beauty that remains. Left blowing in the early morning breeze on the grass, coming upon this Luna Moth fragment took my breath away.  Photographed and printed onto kozo paper, layered with fused wax, hand-carved over its entirety, embellished by powdered pigment, it was wired onto an oil-painted waxed panel full of organic swirls of energy.  This Luna remnant made me connect with the powerful sacred energy of night.

"Migration, Interrupted", 2017, (12 x 12.25 x 5 inches)

A monarch on the grill of a car-- clearly struck during its journey-- brought awareness of how our lives can be altered… either in a single moment, or by long-held process/systems.  Each day there is desperate need to create goodness and gratitude amid the chaos and suffering in our world.  “Migration, Interrupted” evolved by merging photo with kozo, layering with fused wax, hand-carving and sculpting, coloring with pigment, and wiring onto depths of carved beeswax waiting like the midnight sky.

"Reveal", 2017, (12 x 12.5 x 4.25 inches)

A Blue Swallowtail feasting in our blackberry garden brought life to this sculpture. Printed on textile, layered with fused wax, hand-carved, sculpted into form, and colored with powdered pigment, it was wired onto a cradled panel layered with intricately carved organic shapes in beeswax and painted with oils, providing a resting place for this memorialized bit of nature’s beauty.  It illuminates the revelation of inner goodness that radiates out when provided with the sustenance we need.

Thank you for taking the time to see what I have been up to in my studio these past months... it feels good to see evidence that my work continues to evolve just by showing up at my table every day, and gives me hope for change in a more universal sense.  I continue to be moved to act in solidarity with others who are working for change in the many unique individual and collective ways that are happening.











In Flawed Abundance by Hayden Michelle


The International Encaustic Artists group recently put out a call for entry into their spring exhibition, entitled, “In Flawed Abundance”.  The title was inspired by this quote by poet and philosopher, Mark Nepo.

      Stripped of causes and plans and things to strive for,

      I have discovered everything I could need or ask for

      is right here, in flawed abundance.

      from “Accepting This” by Mark Nepo


These words struck a deep chord in me, having done much contemplating on my own life’s path and that of my mother and many loved ones who have gone on before me.   I have been especially thoughtful about my maternal grandmother, Ida Fuss Klee.  My mother was very close to her, and I feel like I can now better understand the deep ache that remained with my mother as she missed her own.  As I have reflected about my grandmother, I have deeply wondered about her life as an artist.  She grew up a child of German immigrants and modest means, in a family rich with artistic abilities and full of knowledge about how to fully live.  She took correspondence art courses through Chicago.  She was fundamentally a self-taught artist, and had abundant talent in drawing and painting, (as well as in daily living skills like resourcefulness, inventiveness, and ingenuity, per my mama, and much like my mama!).

In the 1920’s, she rented an art studio in downtown Indianapolis—a daring thing to do as a female artist in that era.  She began working professionally as an illustrator, gained recognition for her talent and hard work, and was offered full-time employment in NYC.  However, she did not feel that this path was an option that she could accept, and chose to stay in Indianapolis and marry and raise a family.  I can only imagine the complexity of needing to make a choice like that, and feel incredible gratitude for being able to work as an artist while raising my family, and to have the emotional and societal support to do so.

"Her Beauty Still Shone" (Ida Fuss Klee, 1904-1998), (detail)

 This bit of history was recently shared with me, and it helped me to get perhaps a glimpse of understanding about my grandmother’s very limited expression of art after starting her family life.  I often tried to engage her in discussion about her artwork, what inspired her, how it was to be a female artist in a male-dominated field… being met with few words and eyes that looked away.  How I wish I would have known more, to have been able to talk more freely and to listen to her story, and certainly to have been able to ask to make art alongside her…

(These are photographs of her china, broken fragments I have saved for years for the right project to come along!)

So the first piece I made for this series of “In Flawed Abundance” was in homage to my grandmother, to honor her life force, and how she raised herself up out of poverty with fierce determination to live and create. It is in reverence to her tremendous hard work and talent, and the parts of her that did not feel valued, nor had the chance to be appreciated more fully by the world.  It is symbolic of how these breaks in her spirit did not diminish her beauty or her artistic contributions, and to reinforce the fact that her art did, in fact, live on… both through my mother and her brothers’ artistic talents, and the passing down of this gene to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Although I got to know only a small part of her when she was living, I feel her spirit very much alive now in my heart and hands…

"Her Beauty Still Shone" (Ida Fuss Klee, 1904-1998), 2016,(18 x 24 x 5 inches), (kozo paper, photograph, beeswax, carved and sculpted, hand-colored with powdered pigment and resting on handmade plate rail)

  In these past many months, I have been feeling the inevitable void related to the loss of my mother.  Nepo’s words remind me that acceptance of the feelings of loss enables me to return to the fullness of that which she left with me-- her love, nurturing, humor, and artistic self, as well as the things she taught me in dealing with the hardship and pain that is part of life.  My mama remained a compassionate and strong woman throughout her challenges, and showed much determination and stamina.  She was a queen role model of embracing flawed abundance (and I mean that in the most respectful way… she could see the positive in every single thing she encountered, and taught deep mindfulness for abiding gratitude by this example). Thankfully, these gifts remain with me as I continue to grieve her absence…

"Fragments of Home" (Mama, 1933-2016), 2016, detail

The second piece I submitted for review is of my mother’s Blue Willow dishes, which held the food she so lovingly and dedicatedly prepared for her large family of eight children and spouse (always pointing out how beautiful the vegetables and fruit looked against the cobalt blue… an observation which I find myself often pointing out repeatedly with my own children as we use a few of these plates, still).  In addition to the beauty of the pattern and color, there is the obvious brokenness that comes in families as difficult things are experienced.  It has taken me a long time to share the pieces, and to see the beauty and healing that bringing them out into the light can bring.  This piece is in homage to the integrity of my mother, and to the amazing artist that she was, as well as to her lifetime of sharing this gift with those she loved.  She exemplified creating for the sheer joy of it.  And mostly, my mother taught me to see…

"Fragments of Home" (Mama, 1933-2016), 2016, (18 x 24 x 5 inches), (kozo paper, photograph, beeswax, carved and sculpted, hand-colored with powdered pigment,  and resting on plate rail)

  Nepo’s words also speak directly to me as I continue to dedicate the time and work needed to express myself as an artist while balancing the task of raising and homeschooling of my children.  It has been quite a process for me to give myself permission to make art a priority, not guilting myself for nolonger actively working as a social worker.  I continue to explore what it means for me to do my part in contributing to the social good of the world, a question which is there for all of us.  And I have ever so slowly come to accept that I have things to say and to express through my art, as well as to accept that the amount of time I have available to make art may not be the same as if I had started younger, or in that field rather than social work.  As I age, I am aware that each part of my path has its importance and lesson, and is all part of the bigger whole.  There are a multitude of gratitudes every day, no matter what that day happens to bring.

"Discovering Wholeness" (Myself, 1968--), 2017, (detail, above and below)

This compilation of my own shards, new and old, reflects piecing together the many fragments of my life... tenderly exploring the sharp edges, while appreciating the depth of color, shape, glaze and history that each remnant contains... realizing that a deeper whole has emerged from this experience and the integration into my being, creating space as I continue on my path.

"Discovering Wholeness" (Myself, 1968--), 2017, (18 x 24 x 5 inches), (kozo paper, photograph, beeswax, hand-carved and sculpted, colored with powdered pigment, and resting on plate rail)


Whether or not these pieces get juried into the exhibition, I am deeply grateful for the introspection and growth that has transpired as a result of these inspiring words by Mark Nepo.  The timing could not have been better, and I feel more at peace having done both the emotional and physical work involved in the making of these sculptures.  Tis a gift to be able to see this thread that runs through the fabric of our lives, and the interconnectedness of us all.  May we all greet ourselves and each other with more tenderness for our wholeness.

It's the Little Things by Hayden Michelle


In the last couple of months, I have been exploring working both larger and smaller, and it has been refreshing to go into the tiny.  Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated with all things small, and would make miniature goods for the creatures I imagined would need them... acorn lid bowls, rugs out of leaves, toothpaste caps for cups, berries for pretend apples.  I loved "The Littles" on Captain Kangaroo, and waited with bated breath for the times they would be revealed from behind the books on Captain Kangaroo's shelf.

 I realize that I am still fascinated by tiny things, often channeled and expressed through my love of macro photography, where whole worlds are opened up through pattern, color, shape, and symbolism.  So it is not surprising that I would explore diving into a smaller realm with encaustic.  This time, no photo is the foundation, just the wax that is molded with my fingers and perhaps adorned with droplets of melted wax.  I am enjoying the sense of light that is transmitted through the wax, and think they appear as a bit ghostly in their luminescence.

"Spring Forth", 2016, (5 x 6 x 4.5 inches)

"Out of the Blue", 2016, (3 x 6 x 2.5 inches)

I still wonder if some small being might appreciate them in their dwelling, and can imagine a forest abode made up of these tiny installations.  Sometimes I wish I could be small enough to have them in my world.  I think it is nice that we can escape to different landscapes when the outer world feels too much and we need some reprieve.  Somehow it seems more manageable, and more protected.  Certainly, being in the process of creating and going into the sculptures brings positive energy, and that makes me smile.  It is in a spirit of playfulness and light-heartedness that I share them here with you.  I hope they bring a sense of joy to you, as well…

"Arise", 2016, (4 x 7 x 1.5 inches)

CRAFT FORMS 2016 by Hayden Michelle

As the weekend comes to a close, and we are on the road to return home, I am much more full than when we left (in more ways than one!).  We arrived in Philadelphia a couple of days early to take in some of the city life and museums before moving on to the Craft Forms festivities.  As we walked downtown in Philadelphia, we observed and interacted with many faces, from all walks of life, from all parts of the world.  We talked with our children about what a fine line it is that exists between us all, how we are all interconnected, and of how each and every person we encountered was full of stories, family histories, and lifetimes of experience, as well as unknown gifts, talents, and treasures.  It is sobering to be made so keenly aware of one’s privilege and basic good luck in life, and left us all contemplating how best to make a difference in the suffering of this world. 

Amazing murals greeted us on the highway into the city...

This awareness of good fortune was so prevalent throughout the rest of the weekend, which was quite a broadening experience.  We arrived in Wayne, PA, for the opening gala event for Craft Forms 2016 on Friday evening, to a warmly and festively lit contemporary art center that beckoned all inside.  We were greeted by the jubilant and artistic band playing a wide variety of instruments, and musicians that stepped out and engaged with us many times over the course of the night.

There was delicious food that was served, and much excitement and anticipation in the air.  I was thrilled to meet Nancy Campbell, Executive Director of the Wayne Art Center, Karen Louise Fay, Director of Exhibitions and Events, and the juror for the show, Stefano Catalani, Executive Director of Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, WA, all of whom worked very hard to organize, select, and present this exceptional exhibition in its 22nd year.   

Stefano Catalani, Juror, holding the catalog for the show... wonderful surprise to see that my piece was on the cover!

Upon entering the exhibit hall, we were stunned with the depth and variety of the work, and the incredible amount of talent, workmanship, and quality seen in each and every piece of art.  There was artwork that ranged in size from being held in the palm of your hand, to textiles that covered the wall, to furniture that had loomed large on the floor... 101 works from around the world.  

Teresa Faris (WI), Collaboration with a Bird IV, #4, and Collaboration with a Bird V, #4

Gizella K. Warburton (England), Morphus II

Ben T. Jordan (MT), The Cowboy and His Cow

Cheryl Wilson Smith (Canada), Balance?

Seth Rolland (WA), Starfish Hanging Lamp

Diane Siebels (VA), Black/White Landscape (macro)

Cheryl Zamulinsky (MA), Cavity

Dinah Sargeant (CA), Eyes in the Back of My Head

Elizabeth F. Keller (SC), Heartwood Tea #1 with Cups

Holly Fischer (NC), Kiss

We slowly made our way around the exhibit, meeting other artists and supporters of the arts.  It was so exciting to hear the backgrounds of others, and how they came to be involved in this exhibit.  There were audible "oohs" and "aahs" as people took in the scope of the exhibit, which was great fun to hear and see.

Artist Judith Rosenthal (NJ), Poppy, with artist William R. Sulit (PA)

Jill Baker Gower (NJ), Flsehgem #3 (wall), and John D. Utgaard (KY), Reaction (pedestal)

Peetah Tinay (WA), Ring Border Basket with Lattice in Black and Brown

Taking it all in...

Catherine Winkler Rayroud (TX), Art for Peace, (21 symbols of peace within the composition, hand-cut with nail scissors from a single sheet of paper)

My sculptures in the gallery shop...

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to hear of the many layers of process involved in the work of other artists, and the history of making that spanned years of their lives before getting there.  My respect for their work deepened as I listened to their stories, and I was in awe of the variety of techniques represented by the work. 

Jess Jones (GA), Topoquilt: Atlanta Prison Farm

Holland Houdek (IA), Extended Articular Component (Knee Replacement), and Rea Rossi (PA), Celia (ear cuff)

Elaine F. Kinnaird (AL), Touch

Kate Cusack (NY), Lace- Rust- Red/Gold

David Rozek (PA), Morphic End Tables

Kari Lonning (CT), Paint Box Colors

Jennifer S. Martin (PA), The White Series

Dylan Martinez (IN), Untitled

Daniel J. Widolff (PA), Runner

Mary Zicafoose (NE), Mountain for the Buddha: Wine

Xin Chen (IA), Squares of Circles? (macro)

Carol V. Hall with Michael Kehs and Dan Greer (PA), Dragon Vessel: When Fire Dries a Tear, and Stephen S. Robison with Kathleen Guess (WA), Pasta Box (behind vessel)

Ellen Dickinson (NY), Undulation

Cameron Anne Mason (WA), Quinalt

Catherine Winkler Rayroud (TX),  (macro)

Rachel E. Meginnes (NC), Floral Backing

Denise L. Roberts (WV), Mitote #8

Jeffrey L. Dever (MD), Jardin Nouveau

Lisa Klakulak (NC), Capped Accumulation

William R. Sulit (PA), Untitled

Raymond Gonazlez (KY), Click

I felt appreciation for the determination in getting there, and pondered how artists were represented from all corners of the world, yet united by their love of creating.  We left that night feeling enlightened by the experience, and so fortunate to be able to be part of the experience.

Bounkhong Signavong (NJ), Reves Indigo

Bounkgohn Signavong's hand-woven jacket (above), detail (shared that it took ten years to weave and construct!)

Group photo of the artists who could attend, as well as juror, Stefano Catalani... Congratulations and best wishes to all those artists who were not able to be included in this photograph...

Artists Diane Siebels, Michelle Hayden, and  William R. Sulit (taken by my son :)

Saturday I returned for the Juror’s talk by Stefano Catalani, followed by the artist presentations about their individual pieces.  I was on the edge of my seat (as I stood), ears open wide, taking in their words and learning more about what went into their work.  I was able to speak about mine, as well, and was grateful for the opportunity to share in such a receptive group, which filled the entire exhibit hall.  

Stefano beginning the Juror's Talk...

Leslie L. Pontz (PA), presenting on her piece, Natural Drape (woven piece, not pictured... was to her left)

David L. Knopp (MD), presenting on his pieces, Body and Soul and Tides

Stefano engaging with Al Canner (CO), Mesa County (A Cubist's View), (left wall)

Al Canner explaining his process of creating...

John Conver Lutz (PA), Turning Point Hall Table

Stefano sharing in presentation with Peetah Tina (WA), Ring Border Basket with Lattice in Black and Brown

Peetah Tina and her basket

Stefano in review with Rea Rossi (PA), Reverberate, (left), necklace

Relief after presenting my piece :), and Stephen L. Maurer (MA), Ogee Bone Bowl (behind my sculpture)

After this deepened understanding, I was able to attend the juror’s talk by Curator and Program Director of Craft and Material Studies at the University of the Arts, Mi-Kyoung Lee, and the artist panel for the accompanying textile and fiber exhibit, Making Marks, in the other exhibit hall.   It was wonderful to be able to hear more extensive sharing by both the juror and the artists, as it was a much smaller, yet no less profound, exhibit. 

Carla Fisher (PA), Renewal

Piper Shepard (MD), Radical 1-3 (macro)

Cynthia D. Friedman (PA), Lonely Traveler

Susie Brandt (MD), Snow Fence (Mi-Kyoung Lee, left)

Heather Ujiie (PA), Die Vier Hexen

Dot Vile (PA), Blanket from Mom

Kristen Miller (OR), Smoke, Shared Paths, Ghost City (pieces on left and right sides of arch)

Jeanne Jaffe (PA), TS Eliot Four Quartets East Coker (front hanging installation piece)

Danielle Bodine (WA), Red Dot Galaxy

Mi-Kyoung Lee (PA), Yellow Forest 2 (macro)

I was so happy to make connections with these artists, as well, and felt such joy at being in the company of others who perhaps look at life from a different perspective and choose to put it into form through their art.  I would have loved to have met all of the artists, and to have been able to have shown each person's art, but there were over 120 pieces between both exhibits.  I hope the caliber of the work and the diversity of artists is at least represented here...

Hooray for new friendships! (Peetah Tina and me)

  And to complete the weekend, we attended a lovely brunch at the home of Franz Rabauer, Craft Forms 2016 Chair, and his partner and benefactor and patron of Wayne Art Center, Brian Daggett.  They opened their spacious home with overflowing generosity and hospitality, and shared not only scrumptious food, but the most amazing tour of their collection of contemporary fine craft, covering the entire space of their beautiful home and grounds.  It was much like being in a fine museum, only having personal tour guides that knew much about each artist, felt bonded with the art, and had stories of how they each were acquired.  They engaged in much discussion with our children, which was so positive for them, as well as us.  It was fascinating, and in combination with meeting those who attended, who were very deeply involved in the arts world on a global scale, I was a bit beyond words.  My family took it in as a broadening experience, and enjoyed the art immensely.  Artists from all over the world comprised their collections, and it was such a privilege to see them nestled into their contemporary home and nature-filled grounds. 

At the end of a long and exciting evening...

Reflections of joy...

These, my Boys, I know and love...

We left feeling quite happy to have been part of this experience, and beyond grateful for being included in Craft Forms 2016 for this year.  I will return home with much to think about, and my wheels are already turning about work that will come to be.  My deepest gratitude for my family, and for all who were encouraging and supportive in making this all possible.




Building a New Relationship by Hayden Michelle

It seems fitting that in this week following reflections on gratitude, that I am able to share an exciting new relationship with Malton Art Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.   This month I had the opportunity to bring my work to Gallery Owner, Syliva Rombis, and Gallery Director,  Brenda Campbell, for review, and was warmly welcomed into their gallery.

 "Malton Art Gallery has been in business since 1974, and is renowned for high quality contemporary fine art and sculpture, representing over 100 local, regional, national and international artists in a beautiful, contemporary, light-filled gallery, covering three floors and an outside sculpture garden.
 Sylvia Rombis specializes in site specific custom commissioned art installations, both in 2D and 3D concepts.  Her goal is connecting the client to the art, through the artist… to create compelling art for her client’s needs.

I experienced Sylvia and Brenda’s philosophy firsthand as they examined different pieces of my work.  They demonstrated a deep understanding of their clients’ preferences and visions... an understanding that grows only from close relationships with their clientele.

I am thrilled to have both my photography and encaustic sculpture represented by the Malton Art Gallery, and look forward to sharing my art in this new venue.  Below are images of new sculptural work to be hung as wall installations, a recent direction which I am delighted to explore...

"Sunrise", 2016, (32 x 38 x 4 in), (and details, below...)


"Moonrise", 2016, (32 x 36 x 3 in), (and details, below...)

 I am so excited to see where this new leg of the journey leads, and am thankful for the relationship with Brenda and Sylvia of the Malton Art Gallery.  If you are up in Cincinnati, stop by this gallery and see the unique contemporary art for which they are known!  

Counting Down... by Hayden Michelle

There was an audible sigh of relief after shipping off my sculpture chosen for inclusion in Craft Forms 2016, as well as 5 other pieces that will be available in the Gallery Shop at the Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania.  Here is a description from Wayne Art Center’s website that highlights the energy and scope of this exciting exhibit:



(A beautiful sculpture made by one of the 89 artists selected for this exhibit... I will share this artist's name after I discover the identity at the event!)

Craft Forms 2016, the International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Crafts, will be on display at the Wayne Art Center from Decemeber 3, 2016- January 28, 2017

One of the most highly esteemed museum-quality craft exhibitions in the United States, Craft Forms consistently draws upward of 5,000 visitors during its two month exhibition. More than 250 guests, including art collectors, supporters of the Wayne Art Center, and artists, annually celebrate Craft Forms and its companion show at the Opening Gala. The exhibitions and special events continue to attract local, regional, nation and international visitors throughout the duration of the events.

This eagerly anticipated exhibition, celebrating its 22nd year, is dedicated to enhancing the public's awareness of fine contemporary craft while providing a venue for established and emerging artists to share their creative endeavors.  Craft Forms is internationally recognized as one of the premiere contemporary craft exhibitions.  The finest works of ceramics, wood, fiber, metal, glass, mixed medium and 3D printing are featured, supporting the Center's mission of expanding the public's awareness of fine contemporary crafts, and significantly benefiting all educational and outreach programs for children and adults.

2016 Juror: Stefano Catalani, Executive Director of the Gage Academy of Art and former Director of Art, Craft & Design at Bellevue Arts Museum

I feel deeply honored to be part of this exhibit, especially as the piece selected, “Ascension from the Ocean Floor”, was completed following the loss of my mother this summer, and embodied much of the energy of her illness and change over the years, as well as her final process of leaving this life.  I wanted to capture the beauty that was inherent in her very bones, and which transformed outwardly as she lived her full years, impacted others through her love, and left this world a different place from having been here.  I am grateful that her spirit continues to live on in all of her children and grandchildren, as well as her extended family and friends.  This piece is a visual reminder of the chance we all get to transform both our own lives and those we touch on our journey. 



"Ascension from the Ocean Floor", (4 x 16 x 5.5 in), 2016

These other sculptures were happy to be along for the ride, and to have a chance to be viewed in an audience of those who gravitate toward contemporary art.  I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my other work in that environment, and am grateful to the Wayne Art Center for inviting the artists this additional privilege.  I am incredibly excited to get to take in the work of so many new artists, and to soak up their perspectives, energy, and aesthetic.  Congratulations to all the artists who entered for consideration, as well as the ones who were selected.  I am sure much blood, sweat, and tears went into every piece submitted...

"In with the Tide", 2015, (and details below...)

"Open", 2016 (and details, below...)

"Flourish", 2016, (and details, below...)

"Seek", 2016, (and details, below...)

"Inner Resources", (13 x 18 x 8.5 in), 2016, (and details, below...)

I am grateful that my family gets to come with me to experience this together, and am deeply aware of how much their support and love carries me in my work.  We are all so looking forward to this adventure, and to being part of this eclectic art experience in a different environment.  It will be great fun to come back and share a bit of what we learned and enjoyed.   I so appreciate the support of all those who encourage, deepen, contribute to, and sustain the arts.  Without the positive energy of each other’s creativity on all levels, these events would not be possible.  Thank you especially to Wayne Art Center for promoting the contemporary arts and for hosting this event!

Art Tour 2016 by Hayden Michelle

Stunning views of sunrise en route to Kathleen's, mystified by the ghostly fog...

Stunning views of sunrise en route to Kathleen's, mystified by the ghostly fog...

This past weekend I had the privilege of being invited to be a guest artist at the home and studio of Kathleen O’Brien, as part of Art Tour 2016.  We were first stop on the tour which included 8 other artists who opened up the spaces in which they live and create their art.

 Kathleen and her spouse, Greg Orth, have the gift of warmly welcoming those into the house and studio which they designed and built, nestled into the landscape which feels like an extension of the beauty within their walls.  We gathered on the porch which completely encompasses their house, offering views in all four directions, soaking up the dappled sunlight that came in through the gorgeous wall of blue morning glories, magically still blooming on these cold November mornings.  A hammock awaited tired feet in the trees beyond the house, and visitors ambled along their beautiful property, soaking up these intentionally and lovingly curated grounds.

The road leading to  Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary , Kathleen and Greg's home and studio...

The road leading to Sunwise Farm and Sanctuary, Kathleen and Greg's home and studio...


The days unfolded with many coming out to see the stunning watercolors, mixed media and jewelry that Kathleen has so abundantly created, alongside my encaustic sculptural work and photography.  We both really enjoyed the symbiotic energy that our pieces seemed to emit while sharing the same space, complimenting each other in color, connection to nature, and positive energy. 

Also showcased were antique items Greg has collected, and some of his writing.  Sherman Fracher of Abiding Grace Farm was there as a guest, as well, with her artisan pickles.  We thoroughly enjoyed sampling them (too many times!) throughout the weekend, and loved sitting around the table with others who tasted these fine pickles and many of the treats that were provided. 

Sherman feeling joy in the crisp morning air...

Sherman feeling joy in the crisp morning air...


It was so enlivening to engage with those who came out to share in the day, discussing the process of how I work, what my inspiration is, and inquiring as to what moved them to create in their own unique ways.  I enjoyed hearing about the many facets of creativity expressed by the visitors… painters, writers, illustrators, actors, musicians, photographers, cooks, seamstresses, wood carvers, and those who immerse themselve in nature as source of replenishment, awe, and quiet.  It is in interactions like these that common ground is felt, and which deepens the drive to keep creating and keep sharing with others.  I was left with much gratitude for the opportunity and gift of making art, and especially for being invited to share it out on Kathleen and Greg’s sacred grounds.

Shadows of the morning glories danced across the porch planks...

Shadows of the morning glories danced across the porch planks...

Front view of Kathleen and Greg's land, with fountain and hand-made bread oven...

Front view of Kathleen and Greg's land, with fountain and hand-made bread oven...

Lovely way to end the day... with a good hug with Kathleen and a hearty laugh...

Lovely way to end the day... with a good hug with Kathleen and a hearty laugh...

And gratitude to be backoned back home to my neck of the woods with a soft sunset to greet me...

And gratitude to be backoned back home to my neck of the woods with a soft sunset to greet me...

Lost in the Details by Hayden Michelle

("Worn into Beauty", 2016)

As I have been settling back in to life after my trip to Eugene, I have had to do so by hitting the ground running...  we are in full swing of homeschooling, co-ops, art-making, and reconnecting with friends and family.  I finally was able to spend some time in the last week looking at images from my trip to Eugene, OR, and found that the closer I looked, the more I saw in each image.  I found myself smiling and remembering the early morning light that filled the living room that housed the baskets holding these tiny parts of our bigger world.  They called out to me like hidden treasures underneath the hearth, waiting to be discovered.



"No Way But Through"


As I took them out and placed them one by one on the stone hearth,  I was struck by how similar in make-up the tiny bits were, yet each possessing their own unique characteristics that made them beautiful.  I let myself imagine what life they once were part of, and what their journey had been from their place in nature to the place beneath the fireplace... whose hands lifted them up off the ground or out of the water and into pockets.  I wondered if they knew they were still full of life-giving energy, and that they were being immortalized through the recording of their shape in space, experienced through holding and feeling their surfaces, and attributed with new meanings that I was projecting onto them.  Points to ponder...




"Waiting to Be Found"

I love this part of nature-- the endless shape, form, color, line, texture, and symbolism that is gifted to us so freely.  Allowing myself to get lost in these details reminded me to do so intentionally, mindfully, in touch with my breath, especially when I forget to slow down enough to see them surrounding me naturally.  I thanked these tiny sculptures for sharing their essence with me, hoping on some level it supported their being, and offered gratitude to Stephen White (light sculptor artist in previous post) for letting me play with them on my last morning in Eugene.  Seeing these images will always remind me of the peace felt in the cocoon of morning light, and of allowing myself to be lost while feeling found...


"Wide Open"


Trip of a Lifetime by Hayden Michelle

Stephen White's light sculpture... one of many masterpieces!

The first week of September, I had the privilege of flying to Eugene, OR, to work with an amazing artist.  His name is Stephen White, and he has been making light sculptures for 50 years.  I can’t quite recall how I came across his work, although believe it may have been through Helen Hiebert’s wonderful Sunday Paper blog, where she shares different artists working in paper (awesome blog, full of inspiration and information of all things paper). 

 I remember being bowled over by the initial images of Stephen’s work, and started finding everything I could on his work and journey.  I wrote to him and shared my reaction to his work, and inquired as to whether he offered any workshops.  He communicated back and said that although he did not offer any workshops, he would be willing to work individually with me, and said he did not know the odds of me wanting to fly across the country to do so.  I immediately responded that the odds were actually quite high, and that I would be thrilled to be able to work one-on-one to learn from him. I shared my ponderings about the possibility of being able to combine encaustic with light sculpture, and Stephen said that he was open to this exploration, and curious as to what shared learning might occur.  Gulp.  I felt I needed to pinch my arm, as it was such a shot in the dark to reach out and have it be warmly received.

View from the plane during sunrise... fortunate to have a window!

View from the plane during sunrise... fortunate to have a window!

We corresponded for most of this last year, and settled on September for my visit.  After flying in and visiting some beloved and gracious long-time friends (who treated me like a queen!), I was able to begin my work with Stephen.  We laid out goals for the week, and I met with his 2 apprentices, who had worked with him a combined total of 10 years, and did beautiful work.   I was able to listen to their individual ways of working, and to watch the different methods they used.  They all treated me so kindly, and shared freely and openly... great moral support.

Stephen's teaching hands...

Stephen's teaching hands...

Stephen supporting my first frame and helping me glue it, section by section (and making it appear very easy!)

Stephen supporting my first frame and helping me glue it, section by section (and making it appear very easy!)

 It was fascinating to watch Stephen work, and for him to put into words what his body and mind had been creating for 50 years.  I had such deep appreciation for the difficulty of what he made after getting my hands on the materials.  The first day, I just experimented with applying encaustic layered photography onto small frames which he had already built.  This was tricky enough, and made me realize this was not going to be easy (and maybe not possible to combine these techniques).  It helped me clarify quickly that much experimenting could be done at home, and that my main focus needed to be on building the frames and applying the paper, as well as learning some basics of wiring and building the electrical part of the lamp.

Experimenting with applying encaustic photography over a frame Stephen had built...

Experimenting with more encaustic photography... leading me to realize I just needed to play more at home, and learn how to build and layer with paper, first!

This is where the “fun” began.  Stephen left me alone to begin working with the reed, and forming it into shape.  I quickly learned that reed is quite difficult to work with…. and my hands fumbled with the unruly reed that seemed to have a life of its own, unfurling into every conceivable direction but the one I was trying to shape it into.  I have small hands, and although strong, are not nearly as trained as Stephen’s, so I had to use knees, elbows, ribs to hold the formed reed in place, and was secretly hoping none of them was watching me out of the corner of their eyes.  I am quite sure that they were just being respectful not to laugh as I intermittently mumbled something under my breath, snapped the reeds several times when I found their breaking point, realized that bending reed was very painful for my thumb joints, and generally just felt overwhelmed.  I admitted to Stephen that the first hour of wrestling the reed into a very basic form reminded me of those coiled spring snakes that leap out of the can when you open the lid (remember those?  My brothers always got me with those darn things!).

 I doubted whether I would make any shape at all, and was relieved when Stephen quietly came over and started showing me how to use clothespins and clamps in many directions to hold each reed down where it needed to be.  We then began gluing each individual reed into place, and creating the composition was slow and steady.  I made groupings of 4 concentric circles emanating out from a center, representing my 2 sons, husband, and me being interconnected, but growing out into our own lives as we continue to evolve.  Somehow, having some meaning to the forms inspired me and calmed me, and we eventually had a completed frame.  I felt like I had just run a marathon (which I have never done… only a half, and that was intense enough!).  When I talked to my son that evening, he asked how many lamps I had made so far, and was incredulous that I had only built the frame for one small one… small, but mighty victory!

Final glueing...

The next day, I began papering the lamp, which is a very detailed and meticulous process, and results in a beautiful paper surface that looks like handmade paper, diffusing light in the most glorious of ways.   I learned that each surface between every reed is covered in 4 layers of fine tissue paper (and this is just the first layer!), and that this detailed work is not for the faint of heart.  It gave new appreciation for the beautiful sculptures Stephen has made, and for the enormity of the task at hand, given the large size of most of his work.  

Stephen demonstrating how to glue initial layers of tissue down...

Stephen demonstrating how to glue initial layers of tissue down...

And so the papering begins...

And so the papering begins...

Balancing the meditative quality of papering with the truth that the goal is to transmit light in the end (and not lose sight of how many layers were laid down, and will now need to be ripped out and redone for being too thick!  All part of the learning, eh?)

Balancing the meditative quality of papering with the truth that the goal is to transmit light in the end (and not lose sight of how many layers were laid down, and will now need to be ripped out and redone for being too thick!  All part of the learning, eh?)

Stephen had just completed a 12 foot sculpture whose inspiration was a cloud formation, and it was shipped to Hawaii for a home installation.  “Stunning” does not begin to do it justice… It took over 600 hours of labor, and 7 months to complete.    I can only imagine the fortunate family that gets to gaze up at this remarkable work of art day after day…

"Aolani", (12 ft.), "Aolani" means cloud formation....

I spent the next few days moving on to a larger frame, with more unfurling, spirals, and open space.  I felt a bit more calm in this construction, and again, was grateful for Stephen’s presence, experience, expertise, and guidance.  We had many a laugh over my struggles to build something that was reminiscent of my drawing, rather than a sound physical structure.  It became a joke that I clearly had never taken physics, and was a lot of work for my brain and body to wrap around these concepts.  So amazing how our brains have a tendency to gravitate to particular ways of thinking.  This form went into the category of origami, knitting, and other brain-fry executed art forms (which I do not do!).  But it gave me hope that I can learn, and that it is good to make my brain work hard.

Example of the overwhelm of clothespins as I awaited the gluing of each section ("Uh, which one are we on, Stephen?")

Example of the overwhelm of clothespins as I awaited the gluing of each section ("Uh, which one are we on, Stephen?")

These shadows made me as happy as the form was taking shape... confirmation that it was becoming real.

Almost-complete new frame (!)

Alternate view... open hole large enough to fit smaller sculpture inside in order to ship back to KY...

Other wonderful experiences happened throughout the week, such as meeting one of my favorite artists who uses much natural material and encaustic in her sculptures and work-- Shannon Weber.  I was so surprised and thrilled to get to meet her, not knowing that she only lived about 25 minutes from Stephen.  We had a lovely afternoon of connecting and sharing inspiration and discussing technique, and my spirits were lifted further.  That afternoon was a great highlight, and I will appreciate the continued friendship with Shannon.  It was interesting to see the threads of energy that were similar in each of our works-- although each expressed differently, all are fueled by a deep connection with nature.

One of Stephen's sculptures in a gallery in Eugene...

Shannon Weber's sculptures 

Me, work in progress :)


Every morning we walked through Stephen’s neighborhood, built into the side of a hill that used to be a fruit orchard.  I was floored each day as I discovered yet another type of fruit tree, and could not stop talking about how much I wished I could gather up some of that ripened fruit and take it home to preserve.  It was like being in some kind of magical land, full of many types of apples, pears, plums, and grapes.  The abundance of life seen through this fruit, the amazing birds that perched in the trees, and the views that surrounded us served as continual inspiration and grounding in this magnificent experience.

Discovery by the compost pile in Stephen's back yard...

Discovery by the compost pile in Stephen's back yard...

 Stephen was so generous in opening his home to me, which was a gallery of beautiful art made by him and many artists he knows, and it was so comforting to be in this space, to eat such healthy and delicious food, and to listen to bits of Stephen’s life experiences that have brought him all over the world.  I wrapped up my week feeling full in every dimension, and grateful beyond words.  I will continue exploring this remarkable art form, and see what transpires.  And I will carry with me the empowerment that comes from connecting with other kindred spirits who are creating such beauty in their lives, and continue to carry it with me in my connections to those in my life back home.

One of many baskets of gathered treasures sitting in Stephen's home...

Edible treasure from the amazing grocery down the hill...

Tiny presence... less than in inch in size, and full of light, and I love how it mirrors Stephen's light sculptures (or vice versa)...

Found piece of coral (Stephen), resting in the hands of a Buddha statue... embodiment of the peace and joy experienced on this journey...