"I'm happiest when I'm spending time with my family and experiencing the world with them. My sisters and I enjoy playing games at home, and sometimes our family takes trips together. One place we've gone is Florida, which has really pretty beaches. I love being with them, and I also love spending time with my mom. She's fun, very emotional, and lifts me up when I'm sad. In school, I like social studies because I get to know the history of our world and learn about people I've never heard of before. I also enjoy fashion, basketball, modeling, and acting. Someday I'd like to be on the Disney channel."
"In the months right after I brought my daughter home from the hospital, I knew something wasn't right. She wasn't reacting or moving the way her older sister had at her age, so I took her to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests and finally determined that she had had a stroke at birth. When I heard the news, I was so sad. I thought about how hard her life would be, how many obstacles she would have to face, and how she was going to deal with day-to-day things. She started physical and occupational therapy at LeBonheur, and I helped her at home. Then, when she was 7, she began having seizures, which the doctors said were brought on by the stroke. Her last seizure was three years ago and was her most severe. She nearly died. In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, she wasn't responding and I heard them say, 'Hurry up - we're losing her!' We made it, but the doctors told me if she didn't come out of the seizure, if she didn't wake up, she would die. I immediately started praying to God. I've always been a praying person, but I really prayed then, and she came through.
"It's been an emotional roller-coaster, and there are still challenges. Just today on the way here I was thinking, 'How is she going to drive? What will she do when I'm not around?' She's 14 now. A lot of kids might withdraw and feel down about facing what she faces, but that's not how she reacts. She's vibrant, has a lot of interests, and is well-loved by friends and schoolmates. She loves fashion, loves girly things, and she and I are super-super close. I have three daughters, and they're all awesome. How could one of my rainbows not shine?"
"One of the last places I take customers on my carriage tour is the Chisca Hotel [currently under renovation]. Back in the day, there was a radio station there. The disc jockey, Dewey Phillips, got hold of a 45 called That's All Right, Mama by some guy named Elvis Presley, and that was the first time Elvis's music was played on the radio. People kept calling in about it, and Dewey played it 19 times that first day. The rest is history. I also like to show people the Majestic Grill. It used to be the Majestic Theater and was where Elvis had his first job. The Walgreens downtown is interesting too. A lot of people don't know that Elvis got barred from there for hanging around too much; it's where his girlfriend worked."
“Some of my works on tulle are based on literature or art history, but certainly not all. Each piece takes a long time to complete, but the stitching relaxes me and gives me time to meditate and process things. While I was working on the one of my mother and me, I thought a lot about our relationship and how we interact, about how powerful my mother is and how she pushes me to be a powerful woman as well. I think the more time you spend on a piece and the more you put into it, the more you can get out of it. Besides the works on tulle, I also do portraits in oil.
“I use my art degree a lot in my classroom teaching too. In fact, being a teacher is a lot like being an artist; it’s about inspiring people to love something. In the case of students, it’s about inspiring them to love learning. You have to use so much creativity to engage the kids. For example, when our first grade class read Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, we made puppets and scenery and produced our own play based on the book. I don’t think I could have done it without my art background.”
Meghan Vaziri is a portrait artist and painter with an art history degree from Rhodes College. She teaches with the public school system.
"Working at Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum was my first job in high school. I substitute now for Shelby County Schools, but I still work here in the summers. I'm always learning more about African-American history, and I enjoy sharing the information with people. I have two sons who need to know their heritage too, but I can't teach them unless I know it.
"I'm also an actress and working on starting my own film company. I want to be able to tell stories of African-American women from non-stereotypical perspectives. It's important that those inside a culture tell the stories of that culture. Not that others can't do some of that, but there's an authenticity to first-hand experience versus outside views."
Timberly Hope Lewis Carter is a veteran stage actor transitioning to film. She appeared (as an angel) in the Devil's Creek TV series and in Craig Brewer's Five Dollar Cover. Timberly recent shot a pilot for a TV series; that pilot is being presented to a network now. She begins shooting Moma's Spirit (RIPP Entertainment Productions) next month; the film will be available next year on Netflix and in stores (national distribution).
"I was involved in the Civil Rights movement in Memphis in the 1960's, was arrested three times because of that involvement, and participated in the Selma March in 1965. I now own Heritage Tours, which conducts historical tours of Memphis, and serve as the director of Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum [pictured here]. It's important for all citizens to know the true history of America. African-American history is an integral part of that; if it is omitted, we are not getting the full story."
Elaine Lee Turner, Director of Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, 826 N. Second Street.
Website for Heritage Tours, Inc.
“I’ve always felt close to nature. I was outdoors so much as a child, playing with animals, catching bugs, raising pollywogs to frogs. We spent summers tent-camping in remote parts of Alaska, so we were around a lot of wildlife there, and several people in my family had careers in the natural sciences. My uncle was a herpetologist and oceanographer, my grandfather was a botanist, and both my grandfather and grandmother were entomologists. I’ve always felt tremendous compassion toward creatures that many people are uncomfortable with. In fact, my studio is full of dead animals and bugs, and I incorporate insects into many of my paintings. The hair of the Violet Queen, one of the pieces in this show, is made entirely of bees. Another work, one that has just been accepted to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, is of a girl whose body is comprised of butterflies, both in chrysalis and in flight. Part of my mission is to bring greater recognition to these often-misunderstood creatures.
“I’m also working on a series of world leaders as babies. No matter the complexities of who we perceive them to be in their adult roles, these iconic figures were all babies once. Through gender, race, or circumstance, their lives took completely unexpected turns. I want to express a glimpse of that early innocence, before there was ever a thought as to who they might become. The trajectory of their lives, the power of their lives, is fascinating.”
Poppy King and Violet Queen (below) are part of the Summer Group Exhibition (showing June 5-July 31, 2015) at L.Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin.
Detail of Violet Queen
This piece below, entitled Early Bird, will soon be on display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. (image credit: http://margaretmunzlosch.com)
Margaret Munz-Losch, Artist
"I just graduated from Middle College High School at Christian Brothers University, and I'll be going to MTSU in the fall, majoring in Mass Communications. Right now, I'm interning at 88.5 FM and loving it. I wake up every morning like, 'Yes! I get to go to work!' It's really exciting!"
“I would characterize my art as goofy and absurd. The series I’m working on now is called ‘Fun Death’, which is kind of a weird idea, but it was inspired by an actual news story about a woman who was killed on an amusement park ride. The story was tragic, but it started me thinking about fun places you could go before you die. It’s a way of combining the emotions of sadness and happiness. One of the works in the series depicts Superman dying, with the title ‘Don’t Fly Too Close to the Kryptonite Mountains’ and another shows a man falling out of a hot-air balloon and is titled ‘There Goes Dave.’ The titles are meant to be humorous, but there is a serious undertone as well because of the subject matter.
“I realize that a lot of my art is weird, but it doesn’t feel all that weird to me because of the family I grew up in. We were all a little quirky. I remember my dad telling jokes all the time. In fact, my mom just sent me a photo from their first trip to New York City---they’re there now---of my dad is flossing his teeth on 7th Avenue. So yeah, I think my whole family has a strong sense of the ridiculous.
“I would say to young artists, ‘Make the art you want to make just because it makes you feel good, regardless of whether you can sell it. Of course, you also have to pay the bills, so you’re going to have to get another job.”
Alex Paulus received his BFA from Southeast Missouri State University and his MFA from Memphis College of Art. He teaches courses in drawing, painting, design, and art appreciation at Southwest Tennessee Community College. He is also a musician.
"As I finished my psychology degree and got older, I realized that I wanted to inspire and help people achieve a better quality of life. I'm a big supporter of education and entrepreneurship, and I especially want to advocate for those who don’t have a voice. I didn't get the kind of support growing up that I wish I had, and I want to help provide that for other people. I think the losses I’ve suffered in my life have made me more compassionate, and my struggles have helped me develop my creative and leadership abilities.”
LaMesa C. Cole, Consultant / Teacher / Advocate