Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Art of The Dash

What do marbling paper, tombstone rubbings, dog show photography, handmade wedding invitations, and the Creative Hands Art Studio all have in common?

They represent a SAMPLING of Sherry Aikman's creative outlets.  

Claudia here today bringing you the fourth of our four-part Women Who Inspire Us Wednesday Series, in honor of Women's History Month.  I'd like to say we saved the best for last, but that wouldn't do justice to the impressive Aunt Cynthia, Grandma McDaniel, or Katie's former boss, Shingi.  Let's just say, I'm no slouch and I upheld my end of the bargain by bringing you the Amazing Sherry Aikman.

First a quick rundown on how I know Sherry and then an overview of some of her many accomplishments.

Sherry and I met while I was working at Southern Methodist University in the mid-90s.  She was tucked away in her corner of campus cranking out some of the most amazing graphic work I'd ever laid eyes on.  She could take anything and make it look like a million bucks.  And for someone who ascribes to the belief that, "packaging is everything," her talent did not escape me.  

Before long, I had Sherry designing every stitch of paper that came out of my office.  If I'm being honest, I actually dreamt up creative projects for Sherry to work on just so I could have an excuse to be around her.  We were a dream team.  I dreamt it and she turned my ideas into reality.  Every where I moved Sherry moved with me - at least by email.  When I moved to Georgia I still had her designing brochures.  When I moved to Kentucky I had her busy creating logos, t-shirt designs, and since moving back to Texas I have tried roping her into as much HLA fun as possible. 

She's done a couple favorites for me.  First was the handmade wedding invitations she made for for Richard and me.  Here's proof of how remarkable they were.  Richard and I had a total of 45 people at our wedding (people, not couples).  Of those 45 people,  seven guests gave us framed copies of our invitation.  If that isn't commentary on what a beautiful piece of art her invitation was,  I don't know what is!  

The other favorite was an invitation to my graduation reception.  Every letter of every word of every page of my dissertation was written on the top floor of Starbucks in Athens, Georgia.  So connected to the Starbucks staff was I that they agreed to shut down the top floor so I could host a reception of family and friends.  I sent Sherry a black and white photo of me and she, in turn, sent back (from Texas) the most beautiful invitations made of earthy colors, a touch of green, and lots and lots paper layers.  The invitations were nothing short of works of art.  She capped the whole thing off by sliding each invitation into a cleverly cut Starbucks pastry bag - made to look like a vellum sleeve.

But Sherry's career as an artist is far more esteemed than hand making one-of-a-kind invitations for me.  As noted in the opening, Sherry has dabbled in everything from marbling paper; paper weaving; rubbing tombstone faces to show their unique textures; photographing statuaries; photographing dogs at dog shows; and recently traveling to places such as Poland, Germany, Belgium, and Argentina to photograph (and video) past and present assaults on human rights.  So versatile is Sherry, that she admits her other passion was her short stint running a kids art studio in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Sherry embodies everything I love about people born with the gift of artistry.  She has an amazing eye for color and texture (and other important principles of art that I couldn't even begin to have a clue about) AND... she is generous beyond measure with her gifts.  She finds a way to pitch in and help with any request made of her and everything she produces looks like it had her blood, sweat, and tears poured into it!

My intent initially was to share a template Sherry gave me years back that could be used to make a small treat box.  Somewhere in my move I lost the template and Sherry couldn't put her hands on another copy in time for today's post.  I have faith I will get another copy and when I do, I will pass it along to any interested readers (hopefully in time for Easter).  In the meantime, I thought we could celebrate Sherry today by sharing excerpts of a poem called, "The Dash" by Linda Ellison.

Let there be no misunderstanding... Sherry has never been more full of life and verve than she is right this very minute.  It is her intrigue with tombstone rubbings, photographing statuaries, and the way she lives her life, that made this seem relevant.

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

So when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?

Sherry is my pick for a woman who inspires me and my creativity, in large part because of the way she lives her dash.  By virtue of sharing her creativity, Sherry profoundly touches the lives of people around her.  Sometimes it's by creating a handmade invitation so beautiful and so notable that it literally redefines the occasion.  Other times, when applying her creativity to matters as important as human rights, her work gives voice to those who otherwise don't have one.  

If my dash can be half as long and half as bold as Sherry's will be, I will render my time here on earth meaningful.  How about you?  Who do you know with a dash so inspiring you want to tell us about him or her?

Signing off until tomorrow...


Katie K said...

The person in my life who I feel lives her dash to the max is my best friend from Bellarmine- Kristina. She has made personal sacrifices in order to work with underprivileged children in the Louisville public schools as part of the Americorp program. She has traveled internationally to do service work. She is the friend that is more than willing to drop everything to enjoy the first day of Spring each year. She lives life to the max and is an inspiration to me to do the same.

Peggy said...

Lovely post Claudia! Sherry sounds like my kind of gal, who I aspire to be one day. Thank you for sharing Sherry...

If you give me an idea of what type of treat box, I'd love to be put to work finding one for you, then creating the template for all to use. In the card making world, there are tons of templates out there.... here is one I found in a quick search..

Let me know how I can help!

Layne said...

Hi Claudia,
I love the way you put your new page together it looks great. Sorry that I haven't been around in awhile. This whole facebook thing is very addicting. Although, i am back to see what new and exciting things that you and the HLA community have going on. HAPPY SPRING TO YOU!! In New York it hasn't felt like SPRING yet. Still waiting for it. LOL. I will keep checking in.

Cruise Director said...

I have a tin and a box filled with little boxes that I made out of greeting cards that were given to me... wonder if it's the same?

Who lives their dash to the fullest? hmmm....

Chaotic said...

Living their dash to the fullest... I would have to say my mentor & Priestess Sally... she supports her various circles energetically... she is present for the important (but mundane & boring) things that keep our circles intact (board meetings and planning committees, etc) and yet she continues to be a caring wife (to diabetic DH in wheelchair)and a dutiful daughter-in-law to her aging inlaws (who moved here recently due to health issues)... in all of this she has time when I need her, she is always upbeat & positive and supports me in what ever it is I choose to do.

eknoxuk said...

I really enjoyed reading today's post! She is an amazing woman.
I've always been inspired by the volunteerism that was passed through my mom's family. My grandfather received the man of the year award in his town and many honors for the years of dedication to the community. His funeral was an amazing outpouring of how his life touched others. My mom has also always been involved in many things from the school where she works, to her church and many community activities. I definitely think that our interactions with others are where we make our lasting impact!

Heather said...

I've had a hectic morning packed with doctor's visits and blood draws for my little Lily so I haven't had time to post yet...

I've been inspired by Sherry through Claudia...I think Claudia mentions her at least once a week...she seems awesome.

Who lives her dash in my life?
I'll have to think on that one...

maureen said...

Claudia, I know it sounds weird but my husband has an awesome dash. As you know his mom died giving birth to him. He was the 15th (yes not 5th) child. His father raised him until he was 7 and one afternoon my husband went to wake him from his afternoon nap and he didnt wake. So by the age of 7 he was alone. His older siblings were much older than he was and living in Brazil they didnt even know each other. My husband was warded to his oldest sister who was very abusive to him. By the age of 8 he ran off and went to live with an old friend of his fathers. He offered to work the farm by day and go to school by night if the man let him live in his barn. This could only happen in a 3rd world country. My husband went to school at night and did what he needed to do to survive. He eventually went to college and had to drop out by the second year because he couldnt afford it. I am amazed because he went from being all alone to making something of his life. He eventually owned a few small restaurants and decided to come to the US at age 25 for a trip to Disney (go figure live in Brazil and want to see Disney). He ended up loving it here and decided to stay. He worked at a car wash and a dishwasher for the first year. By the second year he went into construction. I met him when he was building a building next door to my moms house. We were married a year later and have 3 kids and a business that is 20 yrs old. He is the most courageous, strong willed, honest man I know. I dont know a sole alive that could endure some of the things he has. He has given my children everything and he has given me the chance to be the mother he never had. There is no greater gift he could give. He is the most IMPRESSIVE and INSPIRING person I know..... I am blessed to be his wife.

OK so now that I have dragged on have a great day HLA!!!

Claudia said...

Wow, I have been wrapped up in meetings all day and was so pleasantly surprised to read many of the comments. Maureen, even though I know Chris's story, tears welled up in my eyes when I read what you wrote. He is an amanzing man. You are right.

Peggy.. the box when put together looks like a pyrmaid. It could be filled with small treats and then, by hot gluing a piece of ribbon to the point of the pyramid, the box could be hung.

I always made my box out of white card stock so I could rubber stamp it or add stickers. Imagine how cool it would be to create a Zentangle on the paper and then fold it into the pyrmaid shaped box (the perfect merging of two HLA ideas).

Anonymous said...

Wow! Maureen, I love your story! You write it well and are so proud! Good for you!!

Here are a few blogs I found with a pyramid box:

This might be the closest??

Peggy anon at home! Just lazy

Anonymous said...

I vote for Frownies.