I’m finally back to my blog after taking a few months off. My mom passed away June 27th from Parkinson’s Disease. In previous posts, I’ve written about how much my mom meant to me. The last few weeks of her life and her passing left me exhausted. I feel like I’m only now catching my breath.
One of the last things I did before my mom went into hospice was attend the May, 2019 Michigan Writing Workshop. I’ve been thinking about the four literary agents I met there ever since. All of them were so receptive to my pitch for the new novel I’m writing; Middle School is No Place for Magic.
I’ve walked away crushed by these types of pitch sessions in the past, so I was surprised and honored when all four agents asked to see the novel once it’s finished. I’m nearly two thirds of the way through and was hoping to finish the first draft by fall (which starts today;).
The truth is, I haven’t touched the story since. My mom started declining right after the workshop. She was put on hospice and my focu...
The youth who turned out for this year's Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) Teen Exhibition did not disappoint!The call-out was to create a piece that spoke about consumption and the world around us for the exhibit, PIGSTY!
Three members of the A2 Neutral Zone Visual Arts Collective participatied in the exhibit: Mattea Turenne, Romeo Klobucar and my daughter Leah Cunningham. The art reception also featured an open mic for local youth poets.
Teens from all over Michigan participated. It was a assemblage of guts, talent and incredible insight. Check it out!
About his piece, Self Portrait 2019, Romeo states: "The piece overall is designed to give a feeling of overwhelmingness and drama, as well as trying to find a sort of bubble or orb away from the messiness of the world."
Mattea's piece above is titled I am a Product of my Former Selves, Escape. She states: "OCD is often misrepresented in the media, and its actual impact can get lost in the widely-held...
I was completely surprised by my Mother's Day present from my daughter, Leah, this year. I've been working on a middle grade novel titled Middle School is no Place for Magic. Leah drew a book cover for it and she totally captured the essence of the story. Now, my challenge is to make my novel as hip and sophisticated as Leah's depiction of it. #writergoals #bestmother'sdaypresentever
Earlier this year, I led a team who created Michigan Medicine's first "Moth-style" storytelling event, Journeys in Health Care. Everyone who participated did an awesome job! For most of the nine staff and volunteers, this was their first time sharing their personal stories about coping with serious health care issues. Here’s a link to the full video: https://umich.box.com/s/m2zh9lryf8ybnyj5r9xv50vd2yrt2a9k .
“There is a desperate need to share experiences and give patients a voice. This project has brought people together for a common cause,” said Alex Fox who co-created a workshop for the storytellers and MC'd the event.
Alex joined Michigan Medicine's Psychiatry Patient and Family Advisory Council two years ago to use his experiences to improve patient care and reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
“If I could have any kind of effect as a patient advisor, it would be to help patients understand that there is someone out there o...
For the past year and a half, I have been focused on a special project that married my passion for working with volunteers and my love for art and storytelling. The project came to fruition with an Art and Storytelling Event: Journeys in Health Care held on Friday, January 25th.
At Michigan Medicine, I coordinate volunteers who utilize their health care journeys to help improve the patient experience for everyone. They serve on committees and projects, share their stories at events and retreats, and mentor other patients and caregivers in 27 departments. It is humbling working with volunteers who have been through so much and simply want to give back.
We wanted to create a community-building event that would provide a space where volunteers and staff could meet, mingle, and be inspired. We also wanted to give our volunteers, patients and staff an opportunity to share their health care journey through the lens of artwork and storytelling.
I worked with an incredible planning team: Volunte...
Michigan Medicine staff and physicians are well-known for their clinical and research skills. At the Employee Art Show, however, they are able to exhibit lesser-known talents. The health system’s Gift of Arts Program takes art submissions from faculty, staff, students, volunteers and their family members for its annual show.
It’s amazing to see the art my fellow colleagues produce outside of work! To see photos of the 2018 winning pieces, or learn more about the role art plays at Michigan Medicine, visit the Gifts of Art site here.
I was able to sit down for lunch with Fabric Artist Zandra Kunzelman, who won both Best in Show and the People’s Choice Award for her quilt-work titled Todd. Zandra has worked at Michigan Medicine for 19 years, currently in the Radiology Department. This is her second time entering the show.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to show their artwork,” said Zandra (pictured left). “It’s also something for patients to do and see.” Her piece, Todd, is m...
Through a combination of grit, trial and error, an ear for music and an engineering mind, my brother-in-law Tom Rein has managed to make a living for 40+ years as an instrument maker (also called luthier). The art form a luthier practices turns out to be far more complex than I ever imagined, and the road Tom took was marked by several swift, unexpected turns. Tom has been involved with music from age 10, when he took up the clarinet. The clarinet gave way to the tenor and baritone sax, which gradually gave way to the guitar.
Tom started his luthier business,Tom Rein Guitars, in the mid-1970s when there were under 50 in the entire U.S. Now, he estimates, there are over 1,000.
“Being a player helps a lot in developing a signature sound,” Tom explained. “Musicians are always looking for the instrument that manifests the sound that they hear in their head. I’m able to tailor the sound to suit individual players, while remaining true to the sound I’ve developed over many years.”
What do you see when you look at a violin? That was the question posed to Shar Music Store employees this summer, when they started their second group art project. The answer was varied – some created whimsical pieces while others were more serious.
The artists saw an owl, fairy store and wood shed sign. All of the artwork being shown throughout the showroom was made of recycled instrument parts.
“Any time they do an art project, I jump on it,” said Andi Blue, Shar returns coordinator and A2 artist. “It’s funny because it was supposed to be a peacock but it turned into a phoenix, which is more my style,” he said. “It’s all about self-expression. The fact that the managers took notice that there are artists working here in addition to musicians is really great.”
Anthony Marchese, supervisor, said one of the product managers noticed that there were a lot of violin tops lying around, so they repurposed them for this year’s project. Last year’s art was made out of instruments that were beyon...