Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mutualism | Artist Ashley Althoff

When our Art in the Park intern let me know that she was having her senior thesis exhibit this month, I knew I was in for a treat. It has been great getting to know Ashley over the past year. She jumped in and took charge as the KidsArt coordinator, came up with and helped install the "Hue Hall" art installation, and offered excellent ideas throughout the year for our regional fine art festival. Knowing her level of commitment and dedication to our volunteer board, I could not wait to see the attention to detail in her own art exhibit at Upper Iowa University. 

Last Thursday while Grandmommy babysat the little one, my husband and I made our way to UIU to see the opening night of Mutualism by artist Ashley Althoff. Walking into the Edgar Fine Arts Hall took me back to my first collegiate exhibitions, and I could feel the excitement of opening night in the air. The stark white walls, shiny wood floors, and huge glass windows set the stage for this dreamy exhibit. 

And it was breathtaking... 

Here Ashley is pictured in front of her sculptures that she created from everyday materials. Using paper, clay, wax, and other everyday items, Ashley was able to create substantial organic forms that also convey a sense of fragility. I wanted to run my hands over the sculptures and lift them to see if they were as heavy or light as they appeared, but I contained myself. 

Mutualism sparks a conversation on the need for awareness and heightened consideration of our everyday materials in this age of increased consumerism. We need to ponder the overwhelming growth of our throw-away culture and recognize how what we use and throw away continues to live alongside us. Her work is a beautiful reminder that we can, and need to, be more connected to the material things we use in our everyday lives and how we can coexist in nature. 

I was immediately drawn to these physical masses and especially appreciate the way she chose to display them on welded metal and concrete pedestals.  

Ashley's two-dimensional work was equally mesmerizing. Taking photos of the sculptures in nature and displaying them together in the gallery enables the viewer to further imagine these materials coexisting in nature

Mutualism showed alongside Katie Brooks' exhibit, Embrace. One beautiful thing about making it to the opening night event is hearing the artists talk about their work and how they answer questions.  

These next two images are from the other half of the gallery, showcasing the exhibit Embrace by Katie Brooks. Katie's figurative work developed through her childhood fascination with the desire to be an animal and her love for the dinosaur. She's created this playful figurative body of work around a dino/human creature where she's able to express and embrace a plethora of emotions.

These artists created work that dealt with the everyday, but did so in a larger than life way. I appreciated the juxtaposition of various elements on both sides of the gallery: soft, yet hard; human, yet animal; natural, yet woman-made; large, yet whimsical; current, yet prehistoric; delicate, yet strong...I could go on.

Both Ashley and Katie's artwork are exceptional, and I hope you can make it to The Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery at Upper Iowa University to see for yourself. This exhibit runs through February 24th (I was told at the opening night that it will be up through March 12th) and can be viewed during regular gallery hours. 

I am so excited to see what the future holds for these talented artists. 
Congratulations on your senior theses! 

How long has it been since you've been to an art exhibit?
Did you know UIU has a brand new studio space where they house their 3D sculpture and ceramic classes?


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Handmade Valentine Cards | Kids Crafts | Holiday


I love things that are handmade. For most holidays, Zach and I skip gifts entirely and just make each other sweet little handmade cards or handwritten notes. I cherish these love notes and have saved them through the years... he saves all of mine, too! :) 

This week it has been bitter cold in Iowa and our toddler is fighting her first chest cold. So, we have been staying inside, playing around the house, snuggling, reading books, napping, and crafting!  

Yesterday, we used hearts that we had sponge painted a few weeks ago from a craft idea that we got through HandsonAsWeGrow.com. Follow the link to take Jamie's "Hands On 7-Day Challenge"I promise you won't regret it! If you use this link to join the free challenge, I may earn something. Emmajean loves doing Jamie's activities, and if you visit her blog, you may even spot an Emmajean cameo appearance!

It was so fun and easy to sponge paint these hearts. Emmajean and I made a ton of them with plans to cut them out to make our Valentines this year. I wasn't certain how we'd incorporate them, but I knew I wanted to use them and other materials that I had around the house. 

I dug into our craft box and pulled out pipe-cleaners, construction paper, tape, a glue stick and markers. Emmajean helped me paint the hearts for her Valentines, but she decided to craft on her own when it was time to put them together. I did the assembling of these adorable, heart-flower, handmade cards. 

What can I say... she loves her glue stick!

These valentines were simple, fun to make, and I'm sure will put a smile on Emmajean's friends' faces (and her daddy and grandparents, too)! ♥ 

While I finished up with the cards, Emmajean had fun making a HUGE birthday card for her cousin, who happened to be born on Valentine's Day! Happy early birthday, Carly! (Aunt A, maybe you can wait until after it comes in the mail to share this with your little valentine birthday girl.♥) 

Have you ever made your own cards? Do you go all out for Valentine's Day? 

Happy Crafting! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

10 years | Growing Love

10 years | Growing Love

Some of our first photos together, Charlotte, NC, 2008

Somehow, it's been TEN years since Zach and I went on our first date. It feels like it was yesterday, and a lifetime ago! So much has happened that I could never sum it up in a single post (but you can read all about how our love story started here)!

We've been so lucky to have each other through thick and thin, a move across the country, the birth of our daughter, countless fun outings, the passing of loved ones, new jobs, and every other mundane event that together makes up this crazy beautiful journey!

In ten years together, I've learned and grown so much... we both have.Young love grows and changes. Marriage isn't a never-ending honeymoon. It's friendship, teamwork, adapting, and loving each other despite all of your quirks and flaws. Relationships prosper when there is open communication, and being honest with your fears and dreams is important. You're going to make mistakes, there may be hurt feelings, but working through things together makes you strong individually and as a couple.

Being able to talk and listen has given our relationship strength, happiness, and comfort over the years. I'm so grateful that Zach is a good listener.

Then there is balance. Z is my other half, my balance.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, when he's calm and collected over something and I'm freaking out over the same thing (I'm the worrier)!  If he got worked up over things like I do, we would be in a world of trouble. I like to think he calms me and I help keep him up to date on things like the end of the world!

In short, ten years has taught me that true lasting love is: listening, forgiving, balancing, enjoying, and remembering to be grateful for each other.

The greatest love ...♥

It's not always smooth sailing, and sometimes I miss those initial butterflies from our first days together, but I wouldn't trade the comfort, trust, and the love we've grown for anything! There's no one on the planet I'd rather do this journey with than my hubby! I'm so grateful for the joy I have from living life with these two. 

I'm looking forward to the next ten... and for as long as the earth keeps turning.

Do you have a relationship tip or two? Feel free to share in the comments!