Photo taken by Jeff Schrier
July 17, 2006
Art has always been a part of my life. I
loved art classes and often created art for high school
plays, musical productions and dances. After high school I spent one year at the
University of Iowa. After college
I worked for over twenty years in the fields of engineering
drafting, graphic arts, advertising, and print and multi-media production.
I had children in 1982 and 1984 and my world as a professional graphic
artist shifted focus. Up until then I would never call myself an artist nor own
that I had a creative mind – I always said I was a production artist that
helped others visualize their ideas, but don’t ask me to create from my
imagination. The pivotal point came during a facilitator training (Self-Esteem:
A Family Affair with Jean Illsley Clarke) about
self-esteem and parenting. At
mid-week in the training I made a decision to become conscious and grow. As I parented my children (then 2 and 4) with this new
information and worked on their self-esteem I reparented myself.
An important person (a mentor) in my life asked me to draw some
characters for a program she was developing.
I told her that I couldn’t draw and she said, “I think you can and
I’ll wait for you to decide you can.” That
comment gave me permission to take a risk and begin on my path of creative
discovery. Later on, another person said to me, “Oh, Barbara, you’re
so good at art, of course you’ll be a good writer.”
This again gave me permission to try writing. Once my creative juices started boiling I couldn’t be
stopped. I became a creating and
learning machine. The more I
created the more I wanted to know about creativity and myself. I noticed that
when I would do art with my children I would give them permission to be
creative, to take risks and find out “what happens if”.
I love the feeling of creating and facilitating others being creative.
1989, in attempt to teach my children about emotional communication, I created a
group of characters called The Endangered Feelings Animals (Angerilla,
Crynoceros, Trifearatops and Happypotomus).
First I drew them, then I designed puppets. I used them with my children,
and they used them with me. Eventually I mass manufactured them for school
counselors and social workers. I
also created some other little soft sculpture dolls called Numbfull and The
Fulls (Tearfull, Fearfull, Ragefull and Joyfull) and mass manufactured them. As I made each of these soft sculptures I would work through
my feelings….anger issues when making Angerilla, grief with Crynoceros.
I began to realize that making art changed my emotional state. I noticed
that I could take my anger out of my body and have a conversation with it by
having Angerilla sitting right next to me (or any of the others).
When I would share my puppets with others we would have long
conversations about feelings and I realized that many people were stuffing their
feelings and had never learned how to talk about feelings.
In producing these characters I learned about myself and the business
aspects of art.
the same time I was raising my kids, making puppets, and producing an occasional
art job I moved into an educational mode. My
first education experience came in the form of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
certification. I discovered learning style theory and communication styles among
other things. I was empowered in my
learning style and realized that I was an intelligent woman who processed
information visually. I learned
mind mapping and began, for the first time, to consciously take in information
and think for myself. I then
decided that I wanted to go back to school and complete my BA. I started by
taking some art classes at a community college and to make a long story short I
graduated in 1999 with my BA in psychology and honors; with an art therapy
focus. I paid for my entire education with the money I made from
making my feeling creations.
between I kept very busy saying YES! to any experience that came along.
I had my own company called Visualize through which I designed and
manufactured therapeutic dolls and puppets focusing on the subject of emotional
intelligence. I facilitated parenting/self-esteem classes and small
business groups. Through my
university I designed an adolescent girls’ self-esteem support group
curriculum and facilitated those groups for four years.
I conducted various workshops, presentations and classes covering a
variety of subjects: self-esteem; parenting; emotional intelligence; child
development and creativity. I
taught art classes through an art center to all ages.
I got involved in the Odyssey of the Mind program, a creative problem
solving competition. I coached
creativity, judged creativity and training creativity coaches.
Ten years after I began I decided that I was tired of making the big puppets.
I went to the
craft section of a bookstore one night and a book sealed in cellophane fell at
my feet. It was called MOTHER
PLAYS WITH DOLLS by elinor peace bailey. I figured this was a sign so I bought it and read it that night.
It was filled with information about how dollmaking could affirm my
process; that dollmaking could be used to nurture my creative spirit.
I decided I was going to try this. I
wrote a letter to elinor thanking her for being alive and writing the book. She called me several days later from California and when I
asked her what I should do about the puppets she said, “Honey, if you’re
tired of doing them, stop. Something
else will move in.” Again another
mentor, another permission to change a belief and take action.
It wasn’t long after that I witnessed my first show of art dolls (Brenna
the artist and gave myself permission to try out this art form.
I loved it from the start and have been making art dolls ever since.
I’ve had several shows since then and usually sell everything I
produce. I am especially interested
with art and healing. The most of my dolls focus on my emotional and health
issues. I have discovered that my creations speak to many others. I am nurtured
by my dollmaking and my art..