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Alumni “Valu” Obiajulu on BBC World

Everyone deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. In Lagos, Nigeria corruption brings crime to every level of a society and causes infrastructure to languish. Dance can be attention grabbing, visceral, and powerful way to communicate ideas and emotions when political and legislative avenues are fruitless. This is why BBC World talked to Center for Artistic Activism alumni, Ozegbe Sunday “Valu” Obiajulu about his public, political, dance performances. Watch:

“How do you bring government’s attention to the glight of your community? For Ozegbe Sunday Obiajulu, the answer is through dance. He lives in Oworonshoki one of the most deprived communities in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos. The area is known for high levels of crime and a chronic lack of infrastructure.

Oiajulu hopes is street performances can bring about change. Here’s his story…”

BBC World

Love for the Win

“Heart Wins,” from the Take Heart series

Once upon a time, I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s reviewing the previous year, evaluating it, and forecasting/goalcasting the year ahead. You might say I was an overachiever with  resolutions.

Some years, I was bullet-point specific. Like when I determined to go on an archaeological dig, learn salsa dancing, and take up archery: check, check, check. (I discovered that I hated the heat and dirt of the dig, I wasn’t a fan of prescribed dance steps, but I was a decent aim.)

 

Other years, I was more open-ended, listing four to five feelings I wanted to cultivate. Once, I painted a four-point compass with harmony at its center and joy, peace, prosperity, and grace as its north, south, east, and west.

 

At the end of December 2019, while housesitting at a lovely home, high on a hill—as I had for many years—I sat in front of the fire and started my review and projection. 

 

Or I tried to. 

 

I even had a fancy calendar that led you through all the steps with lots of questions to answer and blanks to fill in. (I should note that I am very good about answering all the questions and filling in all the blanks.) And yet, as I flipped through the pages I usually looked forward to filling, I found myself completely uninspired by all the specificity. 


For once, I didn’t want to grip the steering wheel of my life so hard and beeline for the next goal. And believe me: I can beeline! From putting myself through undergraduate and graduate school on scholarships to getting a grant to write poetry in Germany for a year to all manner of less scholastic but equally daunting goals since: I. Get. It. Done. 

 

But those last days before 2020, I didn’t want to get it all done. Because I had a hunch that there were things waiting to happen if I were willing to let go of my limited ideas of what I could achieve and maintain in my own strength. And so, to my surprise, I found myself writing the word “Love” in big, loose cursive across all those usually inviting blanks I was “supposed” to fill in.

 

Fun facts: Just over a month into 2020, I began dating an old friend. Then he proposed. Then we got married. And we have spent the last half year learning the intricacies of love—and I could not have forecast any of them!

 

So, for 2021, I didn’t buy the fancy, fill-in-the-blank calendar. In fact, I’m using one of those free company calendars. I’m keeping it simple. And I’m metaphorically writing love across every month. 

 

And on this Day of Epiphany—a feast day celebrating the manifestation of the One who is Love—I invite the continual manifestation of Love to us all…in all its unpredictable forms, across all the days of this year.  

Mannerly, Bannerly

This little poem is my wish & my wonder for the New Year:  


Mannerly, Bannerly

 

When all manner of bad 

lands in our laps, 

and the mean things 

land in our news feed,

what if, 

instead of responding 

in kind,

we respond in kindness?

What if 

we invite the other to dinner,

polish our best manners,

and serve goodness?

What if

we lift a banner of love,

lifting each other up,

until there is no other?  



*The illustration above is from Blessings: A Children’s Book for Grown-ups, cowritten with my dear mom, Jan Elkins         

 

Building New Muscles – Figure Drawing Class

For me, learning these days is all about “building new muscles”. Hi!  Let me explain what I mean.  You see, I have been taking a drawing class titled “Elements of Figuring Drawing, Anatomy for Artists” for the past few months.   It is an online class through The Art Students League of New York.  And, …

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December News from Masterpiece Fine Arts Foundation

Masterpiece celebrates Christmas through the eyes of artists! We invite you to celebrate Christ with us this season.  Display the beauty through art in your home and church this month as you share His epic story. And give today for our exciting Magna Deo Cultural Center project as we visually connect culture to Christ through fine art now and enter our Capital Campaign in 2021.  Be a part of launching a new start in 2021.
Watch the Magna Deo vision cast
Peruse the Magna Deo plan
Artists have been gifting the world with marvelous Biblical narratives for centuries.  Enjoy old and new classics from Masterpiece’s collection of masters.  Including our beautiful and affordable “Mini” masters, table top  canvas prints, perfect for your fireplace mantle, library table or Christmas wall cluster.  Declaring the season with art and beauty!
See our collection
Make a donation
Worship and adore Him…Christ the Lord!  From all of us at Masterpiece…Have a joyous and Christ enriched Christmas celebration!

Above the Fog, Above the Fray

 

On Saturday, I went Christmas-tree-hunting with my new extended family. We drove out of the foggy valley in trucks, careening up old logging roads into the mountains until we hit sunshine—and snow. 

 

The day was a catalog of goodness: Leftover turkey sandwiches by the fire (and roasting of “snow marshmallows”). Gentle, sunny walks for some…sledding (and wiping out) for others. Hot cocoa with whipped cream, optionally spiked with peppermint schnapps (yes, please).

 

It was a very good day to get away. Besides taking a break on Thanksgiving afternoon for our meal, Jared had spent every other daylight minute of the holiday weekend bricking the new house, and I had been staining its cedar shingles. 

 

Tree-hunting and snow-playing were welcome respites. When the sun and fire got low, we all piled back into the trucks and started for home. Through the forest, we kept glimpsing a lake of fog still covering the valley. And then, before descending back down the mountain toward home, we came to a clearing and saw this view.

 

Up on that rise, we felt warmth and had perspective. Back beneath the fog, we felt the cold and had limited visibility. But beyond what we can feel and see in our valleys—geographical or emotional—a higher elevation rises above us.

 

Whole days can feel like they look: heavy and damp and dark.

 

But. 

 

Looking above the fog, I reminded myself that even when we can’t always get to a higher vantage with our physical bodies, we always can with our hearts and minds. 

 

This photo is for all of us on the days when we’re stuck below—in the fog and in the fray. A reminder that, above what seems oppressive and heavy, there stretches a bright, wide scope of possibility. Until the fog lifts, we can choose to enjoy the lights on the tree and the warmth of the wood stove. And maybe a bit of peppermint schnapps in our cocoa. 

 

Gratitude and joy to you,

 

Anna

California Watercolor Association’s 51st National Exhibition

Painting Selected For Exhibition. Greetings!  I am thrilled to say that my watercolor painting “Three Minute Egg #14 – Blue Espresso Cup” was juried into the California Watercolor Association’s (CWA) 51st National Exhibition. The Juror of Selection was Mr. Frank Webb.  There were 650 entries and the Juror selected 97 paintings for the show. Congrats! …

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“Moon Goddess” – Halloween & Pollinator Bat

Halloween and Bats Go Together. Greetings!  It is late October and that must mean it is “Moon Goddess” time.   Why October?  Well, bats are a traditional theme for Halloween and she is a bat.  Or rather, a colored pencil drawing inspired by the long nosed and long tongue bats of North America.  They are …

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The post “Moon Goddess” – Halloween & Pollinator Bat appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Not What I Expected

Once upon a pre-pandemic time, I heard a famous writer say that when she looked back at her life, nothing had turned out the way she’d thought—and that was good. She said she could summarize what she’d learned about life with this simple statement: Not What I Expected.

I think that would make a great T-shirt. 

 

This year certainly racked up more than its fair share of unexpected things—good and bad. I was scanning the calendar all the way back to the maskless days when I realized that so many big things I’d anticipated got cancelled, and yet even better things—things I could not have fathomed—happened in their stead.

 

Exhibit A: This spring, I was going to help lead a workshop in Paris and then begin my poetry book tour there afterward—continuing the tour in New York and San Francisco. It was kinda career-pinnacling stuff. And then, a matter of weeks before departure, the world shut down. But guess what? The day the workshop would have started, my now-husband proposed to me. And as grand as Paris is, if I never return to the world’s most romantic city, I feel no lack; I have actual romance now! 

 

Exhibit B: I had been invited to give a poetry reading and teach workshops at a college writing conference in Wyoming this fall. One of those all-expenses-paid gigs poets dream of. The event managed to stay on the books all through the summer, but then…it was finally cancelled. The plan had been to drive out there with my husband, teach, and then take our delayed honeymoon road trip from there. We wouldn’t have had as much time to see the national parks and monuments we hoped to visit, but we were going to make the best of it. When the conference was cancelled, we were able to take the entire time together—time that became so precious and relationship-building, I am quite glad we did not have to give up a minute of it. 

 

Exhibit C: Any moment now, I would have been boarding a plane to Sweden and then on to Latvia for a month-long writing residency. I would have spent all of November writing in a little seaside village. You guessed it: cancelled. But you know what? I’d almost forgotten that was going to happen. My life has taken such a different turn that many of the things I once wanted fiercely now seem like brief apparitions—like glimpsed prisms of light that all but fade by the time you focus on them. 

 

I have no idea what November will bring instead of Latvia. (And I’m not talking about elections or anything else one might expect.) I’m actually glad to have no idea what specific goodness is on its way—I just know that something is. It always is; Goodness & Mercy are always at our heels. Maybe we just have to stop now and then, turn around, and acknowledge them. Something tells me those two are all the more thrilled to come closer with their surprising gifts when we’re grateful for them. Even when they deliver stuff we never ordered. 

 

Speaking of ordering, I’m seriously thinking about making that T-shirt. I haven’t figured out what the back would say, but I might borrow a line from another famous Creator:

 

“And it was good.” 

 

Autumn In Lithia Park III: A Walk In The Park

Greetings and Happy Autumn! You see, here on the southwestern Washington coast, the leaves are starting to turn.  And, the breeze is just a bit cooler perhaps.  It feels like Fall. So, while contemplating the change of the seasons, some of my earlier autumn-themed paintings popped in my head. Feeling inspired, I thought I would …

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