“I started painting the creases and folds in fabric, together with very close details of the human body, so that the viewer is left guessing where one ends and the other begins. It all started because I was thinking through how society tells women my age that they need to be a particular size; they need to be skinny, to be fit. I have issues with that, so the paintings are about how, when you’re zoomed in closely enough, the details about our bodies --- the creases in a person’s neck or the wrinkles around the eyes --- are similar for everyone regardless of what you’re wearing, what you look like, or what color your skin is. I like exploring textures, contrast, angles, fluctuations of light, and the beauty and similarities between human skin and the folds and lights of fabric. My work is about being okay with yourself without worrying about anyone else’s input or about traditional views of aesthetics. I find self-acceptance as I paint and explore these processes, and I work through my own problems through being very detail-oriented and precise. I’ve begun looking for that sense of perfection in my paintings now rather than in myself. Something man-made can be perfected, but something organic --- like a human being --- cannot. There’s only so much you can change about it.”
Photos below courtesy of Kristin Petersen:
Kristin Petersen, artist
"I never pray for myself. I pray for the kids to overcome their illnesses. Whenever I see commercials for Le Bonheur and St. Jude on TV, they make water come up in my eyes. When I pray, I always pray for them. I hope they get better. We’re going to try to fight the fight and help them as much as we can."
“When you don’t know how to read, people don’t want to help you. When you go to different businesses or try to fill out papers at the doctor appointment or whatever, they kind of nasty to you, like ‘Why didn’t you bring this person to help you? Why didn’t you bring that person?’ They talk to you any kind of way and look down on you. It hurts me and makes me cry. I want to know how to read like other folks know how. It will be better for me then. I want to read books. I can’t fill out job applications because I don’t know how to do it. It’s hard when you don’t know what the words is. I want to be able to do stuff on my own and not have to ask nobody. I’m going to talk to somebody about learning me how to read.”
LENA (Mom): "We’re celebrating the Chinese New Year. It’s traditional. Every year the families come together with hope that the new year will get better and better."
ANGELA: "I just think it’s really fun."
The Greater Memphis United Chinese Association sponsors a Chinese New Year Festival every year at the Rose Theater on the campus of the University of Memphis. This year's celebration took place on Saturday, January 28, 2017.
“I was in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era. When I got out of the service, I went through a lot, trying to get housing, trying to get help. For a long time, alcohol and drugs is how I coped with my PTSD, but then I got to the VA. They’ve been wonderful to me. I’ve been able to talk things out in my AA group, and I think that’s why I’m better. I don’t believe I’ll ever be completely recovered, but I understand now why I started the drugs, so I’m able to handle it a little better than I used to.
“One morning I came to the community breakfast at St. Mary’s, and that’s where I met Andy and Laura. They came into my life when I most needed a friend. Laura must have seen it my eyes that first day. She treated me like a sister would --- she still does --- and I needed that. They gave me a chance to give back --- to give and help and serve other people --- and I’ve been volunteering with the breakfasts ever since. They didn’t put labels on me: I’m not a client, I’m not an inmate, I’m none of that. I’m just a person they care about. That’s like God. God loves each and every one of us as if we were the only one. That’s what I get from Andy and Laura. They care about everybody, and I love them so much.
“God said, ‘Be still, and you will know who I am,’ so that’s why I’m here. I want to be still. I’m getting to know him. I’m learning how to be kind all over again. I didn’t used to be kind because of my situation. I was an addict for 20 years, but now I’m 4 years on the other side.
“I went to school at the VA, got a certificate in Housekeeping, and now I’m fixing to start classes to get certified in doing floors and doing laundry. When I get those three certifications under my belt, I can go anywhere and get a job. I’m not confined to the VA hospital, so maybe I can go to the head of the class because of my merit, not because someone likes me or whatever.”
Carl volunteers with the St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral community breakfasts on Wednesday mornings and with Calvary Episcopal Church on Sunday mornings.
UPDATE, May 17, 2017: So so proud of this gentleman! Carl has overcome some very difficult challenges in his life, was recently hired at the VA, has his own apartment, and is doing great. An amazing man of courage, resolve, optimism, and gratitude! We've kept in touch through the community breakfast at St. Mary's Cathedral. He dropped by the breakfast this morning --- so great to see him! We love you, Carl!
“I was a professor of surgery for many years with the University of Tennessee. I used to help people with their weight loss: operating on their stomachs and making them small. It was most satisfactory to see them lose a hundred pounds and turn their lives around; it was just wonderful. I’m retired from that now, so I have more time to do other things I needed to do. I have a family collection of old microscopes, for instance, that I’ve finally gotten sorted out.
“To someone else beginning retirement, I would say: Enjoy the ability to slow down, and get yourself together in a different, more relaxed way. Think in terms of service, of where you can help others, and of the joy you can get from that service. One thing I’ve been involved with for 8 or 9 years now is the Hospitality Hub downtown. I do intakes with people who are homeless, helping folk to --- hopefully --- radically turn their lives around and get out the predicaments they may be in when they first come. Thursdays, my wife and I deliver food to people who are shut in and unable to shop or cook for themselves; that’s through MIFA. Then there are lots of other little things we do. It's all help, and there's joy in that. Whether we help somebody lose a hundred pounds or help get them off the street, it's a way to give. And in giving, we receive.”
George Cowan, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
"The happiest moment of my life so far was during my ninth grade year when our team won first place in the SkillsUSA Championship. It’s where groups from different schools come together for competition in career fields like carpentry, robotics, and architecture --- all kinds of careers, really. Our team competed in the area of radio engineering. We were given a prompt, and we had to go out and interview people and make it seem as though we were broadcasting from a real radio station. There were three of us on the team, and when they called us up on stage, we felt so proud and happy. I’m working toward a career in that field now. Eventually, I’d like to be a studio sound technician."
"My mom taught me how to sew when I was in second grade. The first thing I ever made was a pillow. By the time I was twenty, I was tired of using her sewing machine --- it had been around a long time and was pretty old --- so she bought me one of my own. Later, I majored in painting at the Memphis College of Art, but I spent more time in the surface design room than with my paints. Now I design cosplay costumes and sell them all over the United States, Canada, and even across the pond. To date, I've made more than five hundred. I really enjoy the cosplay and anime culture; it's where I've met most of my friends. The atmosphere is very positive, and people are always willing to help each other out. Sailor Moon costumes are one of my specialties, although my current favorites to make are the Popeye ones. My 5-year-old daughter is beginning to show an interest in sewing too, so I may have a chance to pass this skill down to her." [Katie pictured here with mom, Judy]
Images below courtesy of Katie Jones, from her Etsy Shop, Magic Star Cosplay:
Katie Jones, Designer
Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MagicStarCosplay
"I’ve lived and worked in Europe for many years --- specifically in Berlin now --- but I’m from Memphis and still have family here. For almost 25 years now I’ve covered conflicts around the world. One of my most memorable moments as a photojournalist was in Sarajevo in ’95 when I was stringing for AP. I was standing outside a hospital after a mortar attack when a mother got out of a taxi carrying her wounded child in her arms and heading for the operating room. Layla, the little girl, was bleeding from her eye. I was able to capture that image, and politicians in Italy rallied behind the photograph to evacuate this young girl from Sarajevo to Italy, where ophthalmologists operated on her for free and replaced her damaged eye with a glass eye. There were also Italian widows who willed their estates to Layla’s family so that she and her siblings could attend university. When you're in war situations, the work can take its toll, but fortunately I had a strong foundation in art therapy before I ever began, and that training has helped me to process and deal with those experiences." [NOTE: Robert King, in front of one of his photos entitled "Afghan Trooper 511 Cavalry", holds his recently published (2014) photography book, Democratic Desert: The War in Syria.]
Robert King's work is on exhibit at the Annesdale Park Gallery, 1290 Peabody, through February 14, 2017.
“The day before my wedding fourteen years ago --- and of course the wedding was delayed --- my husband was in an explosion on his job and received second and third degree burns over half of his body. With all the skin grafts and surgeries, it took several months for him to heal. In fact, he hasn’t really completely healed yet. To this day, he still has problems. He’s in pain most of the time, and it hurts me to watch him in pain. He struggles with everyday things that many of us take for granted. He is thankful to God though for every day he is alive. He has a very beautiful spirit.”