Kelly Anona Kerrigan – Documenting a life on canvas

I feel most alive and most connected to the world when I am creating.  In college, I fell in love with painting.  I received a very traditional art education as an undergrad, learning the foundations of painting, drawing, and sculpture.  Our studio time was spent exploring still life setups and the human figure.  In graduate school, I branched out and explored other ways to use materials while trying to find my own vision.  Through my exploration, I discovered that my work always come back to portraiture.

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Anona 2010, oil on canvas

There is something about painting a portrait that feels like a special connection that I am making with my subject.  I want to invest the time to really see a person in a way that we don’t get to do on a day to day basis.  I use portraiture to explore identity and personality, and how much we can really know each other.  I feel a rush of adrenaline when a painting starts to form on the canvas, representing my personal relationship with and interpretation of the subject.

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Anona 2011, oil on canvas

When my niece, Anona, was about 10 months old, I painted her portrait.  At the time, I wasn’t thinking past that initial portrait.  I just wanted to capture her as I knew her that day.  Anona is now 7 years old, and I have painted her portrait every year since she was born.  That first portrait started an ongoing project that, for me, is about more than painting.

Anona 2012, oil on canvas and Anona with her early portraits.

Anona and I live on opposite sides of the country, so I don’t see her very often.  The distance and time between visits make it seem like she is growing up so very fast.  It is amazing to see how much she changes and exciting to watch her grow into her own unique individual.  Each year, I try to capture her in a way that feels true to my interpretation of her, and shows her personality.  In a sense, the portraits become a representation not only of Anona, but of my relationship with her.

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Anona 2013, oil on canvas

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Anono 2014, oil on canvas

A theme that runs through my work is one of identity and what shapes our sense of who we are and how we present ourselves in this world.  By painting Anona each year, I am watching her grow up and become who she is, while creating a lasting document of milestones throughout her life.  All of the portraits of Anona live with her on the west coast.  While compiling these pictures of the paintings today, I realized that this is the first time that I’ve looked at them all together.  I love seeing them as a group and noticing how she changes from year to year.  I’m pretty sure she enjoys seeing herself on canvas, as well.   I am determined to add to this group every year, for as long as she will let me!

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Anono 2015, oil on canvas

Anono with her 2016 portrait and Anono 2016, oil on canvas

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Kelly Anona Kerrigan is an artist living and working in Boston’s Fort Point Artists’ Community.  She received a BFA in painting from Boston University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. In addition to painting, she also enjoys designing and making clothing and costumes.  Some of her favorite things in life are running, nail polish, and the Red Sox.  See more of her work at www.kellyanonakerrigan.com

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Krister Allen – Fortnight Idaho

‘Remember my friend, one kind word can warm three winter months … ‘ I am not entirely certain who to assign credit for this (C. Bronte, R. Hunter, S. Freud and even B. Dylan comes to mind) … sage and prudent advice, this however stands.

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I fondly recall my grandmother once describing winter as the most misunderstood season … I never really pondered the ‘W’s’ (why, what, where, when) of this statement until now – my own interpretations, selected by my love, illustrate the profound ‘winter’ beauty of North Idaho’s – Selkirk Range.

A proper winter is as brilliant as it is austere – in the higher latitudes, where the days are severely shortened, one covets an occasion revealing beaming rays of sunshine, serving to shatter the loneliness of the ‘sheltering’ long winter nights.

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A proper winter is silent … listen carefully – unadorned silence can be beautiful.  Savor the gift of long stretches of solemn quiet as the accompanying winds pressure recognition of proven adequacy (or, inadequacy for that matter) … forcing reflection and gently encouraging correction.

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A proper winter transforms the heinous trepidations of collective materialism – rough textures become smooth, abrasive debris reappear as ‘artful’ snow fashioned ‘pretty’, while the unfinished tasks of Fall become forgotten and return a sweet clarity to the landscape.

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A proper winter makes the green lichens and Alpine Firs … opulent and greener.

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A proper winter forgives the forthcoming and seemingly endless sprinkling rains – making the prosperities of the Spring rebirth even more scented and respectably pleasant.

A proper winter has me yearning and desirous for the past, present and future warmth of my true love – to you Q!

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Krister Allen lives (for now) in Sandpoint, Idaho. He is an architect, avid sailor and skier…oh and happens to be my true love.

Carrie Allen – What’s love got to do with it?

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Tina Turner asked “What’s Love Got to Do with it?”  Well, pretty much everything.  In honor of this Valentine’s Day week, yes I made that up, I thought it important to reflect on love in our lives.  Every day – not just one day of the year.   There are many forms of love.  The deep, soul-stirring love for your soul mate, best friend and lover (which I am happily blessed with) to the profound love for your children, love for family, friends, and colleagues.  Exchanging kindness, even with strangers, is a form of love. Every person deserves love and wants to be loved and wanted.

Many people do not know the root of Valentine’s Day, some even think Hallmark made it up.  I won’t give a history lesson here but the root of it stemmed with an ancient roman pagan festival and grew into a Christian feast day, dubbed St. Valentine’s Day, in honor of a St. Valentine.  It was in the 14th century that this day became associated with love.

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Ironically it was Esther A. Howland, a female entrepreneur from Worcester, MA, who first started mass producing cards for Valentine’s Day in the 1850’s at the young age of 19.  I think that is noteworthy and pretty cool.  Prior to this handmade cards with ribbons and lace were popular.  Today I prefer handmade anything, but especially a valentine.

Putting aside the present day commercial face of Valentine’s Day, I think it serves as a reminder and opportunity to truly focus on love in its many forms. Sometimes it’s hard to show your feelings or to move past small irritations and to let your loving feelings rise up.  Try.  We all have people in our families who make it hard.  I have dreamed of sending certain family members this book:

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I challenge everyone to focus on love.  Make sure it’s genuine, heartfelt and full of meaning.  Seriously, slow down and hold your loved ones a little closer today, stop and really listen to what people are saying.  This is what life is about.  Connecting with others, feeling loved and letting others know we care.  It really isn’t about racing to your next meeting or the next big thing and thinking how great tomorrow will be.  Make each moment count and make today great.  Make an effort to love more, and as your relationships deepen, your life will expand.  Love is a selfless investment in others with great returns for yourself. I promise.

So, won’t you be my Valentine?

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – My own private snowy Idaho

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As the snow continues to fall over Boston, covering us in its soft, white blanket, I cannot help but also think of snow-covered Idaho.  Last year, after 28 years, I found my first love again living in Idaho.  Prior to this, I had no concept of the natural beauty of the state.

img_1647According to this site, Idaho is the 17th most beautiful state in the United States. Now that I have my own private relationship with Idaho, I am continually stunned with every visit as the Gem State shows me its many jewels.

Northern Idaho’s sheer beauty can be startling and take your breath away.  Snow-capped mountains, gorgeous lakes, quiet walks in the woods with towering trees all around and more.  Enjoy the tranquility of these caught moments. I sure did.

And a few poems by Robert Frost of course…

Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it – it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less –
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

Robert Frost

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Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Lost in Translation to a Journey Within

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In the summer of 2016, not long after I started my new adventure working for the Cambridge Innovation Center, I headed off to Japan with my colleagues Tim (Founder and CEO) and Makiko for two weeks in Tokyo, with the intention of expanding our work there.

I arrived in Tokyo on July 30th.  Tokyo is fabulous.  I loved it, truly, even though Tokyo is the world’s largest megacity with a population of 38.8 million people.  I kept thinking about Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation.

After a week in Tokyo, I was ready for something completely different. I felt a bit overwhelmed, unsettled and a bit closed in. I needed to set off somewhere for a few days that would help to ground me, give me the space I craved, and to experience something new.

I decided I would head to Kyoto, taking Shinkansen, the fast train.  I would stay at a Buddhist temple for the weekend and take a Zen meditation class.  I was nervous, truly nervous, but often fling myself head first into whatever is in front of me, not letting my trepidation hold me back. Emotions are complicated.

I was hopeful that with the Buddhist meditation class I would somehow journey inside, find quiet and my inner voice, maybe even something ancient and holy within me.

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Upon arriving outside Kyoto I noticed that it was Quiet.  So much quiet… peacefulness. Beauty. Bliss.  The opposite of the hustling traffic and people of Tokyo.  Even though the website had warned to not use google maps for the 10 minute walk to the temple, I did.

As I wound my way through tiny crooked streets, smaller alleys and a miniature walkway through a backyard, I realized I was trailing another woman following the same, odd, circuitous route.  I thought, surely she was headed to the temple too, and clearly followed directions as well as I do.  We smiled at each other and confirmed we were on the same path.

As it turns out, Liz had the same idea to spend a weekend in Kyoto at the temple and take the meditation class.  Liz (an American) had been living in Tokyo with her husband, who is in the military, for a year and a half.

Google maps took us to a location that was confusing and guided us to a door.  Everything was so quiet, we stared at the door, the door stared back at us … it was locked and had no signage.

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After a few minutes, a monk came out.  Excitedly we let him know we were here for the weekend and class.  He didn’t seem to understand. After some confusion and back and forth, he helped us understand, with hand signals and limited words exchanged, we’d come to the wrong temple, but as luck would have it we were not far off.  We were in a big temple complex.

We checked in and were assigned our rooms.  I decided to venture out to a restaurant called the Wonder Cafe for dinner. I saw Liz on the road and asked her if she wanted to join me.  She declined, she was running off to catch a bus to an outside market 40 minutes away, even further into the countryside.  How brave, I thought.

The next morning, I was up early and ready for the meditation class.  We lined up sitting, facing the garden.

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The monk first taught us about mediation and the importance of meditating every day for at least 5 minutes. He said the only thing that is unchanging is change itself. Impermanence, everything changes. We must embrace that and not dwell on the past or fret about what could happen in the future.  The outside world cannot impact our happiness.  Focus, breath and let change happen. We must quiet our minds, stay positive and focus on our breathing.  This helps with metacognition, which also helps with our emotional intelligence.

After the meditation class we had thick matcha green tea and biscuits as a way of prolonging our calm spiritual meditation.

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After the tea ceremony and class, Liz and I reconnected, as that morning we had decided we would leave the compound to explore Kyoto for the rest of the day.  Liz said she had met Natasja, another traveler from Denmark, after class and she would be joining us.

As I often do, I had played out in my mind exactly how the weekend would unfold.  I pictured mediation, and a calmness and quietness enveloping me.  I got that from the class that morning for sure; however, the unexpected surprise was in venturing out with two new friends to uncover what secrets Kyoto had for us.  Three women came together from different walks of life and different corners of the world.  We became fast friends.

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The day and ensuing fun unfolded in different ways.  We ate green tea ice cream, had an amazing lunch, hiked up a mountain, visited with monkeys, walked through a bamboo forest and ended the day at a tiny little restaurant and met new friends there as well.  We shared so many laughs, talked about our lives, who we are, where we came from, and about our hopes and dreams.

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All this packed into a day.

We enjoyed each other so much that we decided to meet in Tokyo the following week for more fun, which included a sushi conveyor belt restaurant and visit to a karaoke bar.  My journey to Kyoto, and within, led me back to Tokyo with fresh eyes and perspective.  In Kyoto I learned to open myself up to those around me more freely, to move past nerves of the unknown, and to live in the present.

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Lisa Wong – Seeing in Different Dimensions

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Steve Seidel
at the Harvard Graduate School of Education talks about how arts education trains us in  “bifocalism:” the ability to see in different dimensions –  alternately focusing on the smallest detail while still appreciating the larger picture.

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Contemplate a single flower – at first glance it seems to be  perfectly formed, uniformly colored – but on longer contemplation one finds that things are not as uniform as they seem – is this intentional? Are these flaws? Imperfections? Or the variations that make each flower unique?

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At a time of social instability, when looking ahead and looking around makes us anxious it becomes even  more important for us to stop and seek out the small moments, images, and opportunities for beauty around us, if only for a moment.

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Photos by Lisa Wong

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Lisa Wong is a Boston-based physician, violinist, and arts education advocate with a passion for bringing the worlds of art and health ever closer together. She has been a pediatrician at Milton Pediatric Associates for over 30 years – and appreciates the hard-won milestone reached by a child with special needs, the opportunity to laugh and the privilege of finding something beautiful in the dynamics of every family.

 

Karen Fuhrman -Yoga

I’m a lover of any type of physical exercise but my yoga practice is what truly holds my heart. Physically, it provides me with a perfect balance of strength and flexibility. Spiritually, it encompasses all the elements that calm and ground.

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It provides the tools to build things that are often hard for me to reach such as self-love and exploration, confidence and a sense of presence that allows me to just stop.

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But the thing I love most about yoga is that you need nothing else to start a practice of your own besides an open mind and a willingness to grow. 

“Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life” BKS Iyengar 

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Karen Fuhrman, mother, wife and yogi (in that particular order), resides in Arlington MA. Teaching several yoga classes a week at Down Under Yoga in Brookline and Newton, as well as On The Mat yoga in Concord, Karen takes her passion for physical exercise on to the mat, guiding students through a dynamic sequence designed to build strength and flexibility. Forever a student, Karen also continues to assist her mentor, world-renowned yoga instructor Natasha Rizopolous, during weekly master classes as well as teacher trainings, where she is constantly soaking up knowledge about anatomy, and proper alignment in poses. When not on her mat, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 young children.