What Came First?
Answer this age old question by coming to see the chicken- and egg-related art at Gallery 48 Natoma in Folsom, California. I am unbelievably excited about this show which runs March 16-May 3, 2018 in a beautiful gallery space. You can meet the artists at the opening reception on March 16 from 6 to 8 PM.
Gallery at 48 Natoma
48 Natoma Street
Folsom, CA 95630
I will also be teaching classes at this venue in April. Click here for more information.
My Happy Place
Wow, I just spent a week teaching “Pysanky for All” at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, and I declare to one and all…this is my happy place.
For those who are not familiar with the Folk School, think of summer camp…only year around…for adults…filled with folk art classes…on 300 beautiful acres of gently rolling hills and woodlands…with other like-minded life-long learners. That should give you the beginnings of an idea of this place.
Years ago my sister and I attended an artisan bread-baking class there. In spite of the misty cold January weather, we had a blast baking all week long. With our fellow students we started with basic breads and then experimented with sourdoughs, crusty ciabattas and even got to bake in the wood-fired hearth oven right there in the kitchen. The communal meal-times offered lots of opportunity to meet fellow students and instructors from around the country. I fell in love with this whole concept of non-competitive, cooperative learning based on the Danish “folkhojskole” or folk high school and I knew I wanted to come back someday and teach.
It took me a few years to gain enough experience teaching and then a few more years to work up the courage to apply, but I was delighted to teach for the first time in June 2016. And even more delighted when they asked me back for this year’s class and scheduled me for October 7-13, 2018.
This year’s class of eight students exceeded my expectations greatly. On Monday morning we worked our way through an introductory egg to learn the basics. Step-by-step through the next few days they gained skills and confidence so that by the end of the week they were designing and completing their own masterpieces. We bonded as a group quickly and constantly helped each other by calling out, “Did you plug your egg?” as one or more students headed for the dye table. “Show and tell,” was followed by oohs and aahs as the finished eggs made their way around the class.
Saturday and the end of our stay came too quickly, but with the hope of a return trip next year, we parted as long-time friends instead of students and teacher. That’s a really good feeling in my book.
A Solo Gallery Show by Teresa Mihalko Harbert
April 2 through May 7, 2017
at the Art & Soul Gallery of Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom CA 95630
Probably the number one question I am asked about this art called pysanky is, “Are they real eggs?” The answer? Yes, they are very real eggs. God created an engineering marvel with those shells, sturdy enough to withstand the mama bird’s weight as she keeps them warm before they hatch and yet designed so the baby bird can still peck its way through to life on the outside.
Over the years I have accidentally broken eggs at every stage in this creative wax-and-dye process. From exploding an egg while emptying it, to smashing one as I reach for it on my work area, to bobbling another as I remove layers of wax, and even dropping one or two as I proudly tried to admire my finished work of art.
Frustration does not adequately describe my feelings each time this happens. And after mourning the loss and cursing my clumsiness I eventually reach for another egg and begin all over again.
This solo exhibition show has been a long time in coming. It is the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in thoughts and eggshells. Let me take you on my art and faith journey from the initial idea to the actual show you will see in the Art & Soul gallery.
It all starts with my love for tiny details. I actually crave the quiet hours alone required to create these eggs. That’s my time to push away the busyness of the “regular” world and focus on one small thing at a time. And once in a while as I work God gives me an idea to ponder. This time it started with the eggshells themselves.
The show title, Fragile Canvas, came quickly and I knew that somehow I needed to demonstrate it, not just tell about it. I decided to create an egg and then break it on purpose for a photo for the show’s title page. Creating the egg was a joy, but I was surprised at how reluctant I felt when the time came to break it. It was much more emotional than I expected.
I finally got out my camera and readied the photo shoot area. Then I took a few minutes to marvel at the designs and color choices on my finished egg’s surface. This goose egg had been such a pleasure to work on because it was unusually smooth. Most goose eggs have small bumps and pits on their surface so the wax lines appear to waver as they move across the egg. Dyes don’t always adhere as brightly either but this particular egg behaved perfectly every step of the way. Looking at the finished egg I started to doubt myself, did I really need to break it?
I wrestled with my decision quite a while before bringing the egg down sharply onto my desk. Hearing that distinctive “crack” actually sent a shiver up my spine and I felt an immense sense of loss. I had changed that egg forever with one swift movement of my hand.
As I inspected the damage and gently picked up the pieces, I marveled at the beauty of the egg, even in its broken state. This is where God again gently spoke, reminding me that our lives are also fleeting and must be handled with great care. We are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.
Fragile canvases indeed.
The Fall Show 2016
The City of Rancho Cordova is doing a great job of promoting the arts! Visual arts, public art, and performing arts all are celebrated and supported well by the Cordova Community Council.
The Fall Show 2016 Opening Reception will be held Thursday, October 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the lobby of the Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Drive, Rancho Cordova, California 95670. Stop by to meet the artists and enjoy the great variety of art on display .
I have three eggs on display at this show and as an added bonus I’ll be playing Baroque music with the string trio Camerata Cordova at the reception beginning at 5:30 PM.
Art and Faith
Back in 2010 I had a solo art show of my eggs in the Art & Soul Gallery of our church. It was a huge leap of faith for me because it was the first time I really connected my art with my walk with God.
It ran throughout Lent, which is traditionally forty days of preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Fasting and prayer often accompany this time of waiting. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. A time of soul-searching and repentance.
As I gave this thought and prayer, I recalled my childhood experiences with Lent. We usually chose to give something up as a reminder to pray and to look forward to the Easter celebration to come. It took a while but gradually words bubbled to the surface to express my Lenten experience. Fasting, prayer, listening, repentance. But the story didn’t stop there. At Easter fasting becomes abundance, prayer becomes hope, listening becomes growth and repentance becomes forgiveness. God’s story of love and transformation became more real now that I had words to express it.
Now I wanted to experience and express visually what that time of preparation meant to me. So the big question…how in the world do I take this colorful, traditional art done on eggs and give the viewer a sense of my own journey of faith? Eventually this thought crossed my mind. What if I gave up the use of color on these eggs? What if I only worked in black and white? My next thought was, “Are you crazy?”
I knew my designs would have to be strong enough to stand alone, without the distraction of color. How in the world do I create interest using only lines? I’d never tried this before and I was pretty sure I’d be able to do a few but could I create enough to fill the whole show? And what if I couldn’t come up with enough material in time? What if I failed? Fear, self-doubt, and a sense of the enormity of this task sidetracked me for a while.
As the days ticked by I kept hearing a soft voice say, “Just make one egg.” So I did.
“That wasn’t so hard,” I thought. And so I made another…and another…and pretty soon the design ideas flowed until chicken, duck, goose, and finally an ostrich egg all in black and white covered every surface of my workroom.
The show looked great in the gallery but I have no idea if anyone understood what I was trying to say with these eggs. And it doesn’t matter because the important part of the show for me was what I learned along the way. Sometimes God doesn’t give you the big picture. Sometimes you just have to start the journey and not focus on the goal. And sometimes you will find a joy in that journey that surprises you.
Arts Camp 2014
Once again I’ll be teaching a week-long class of 5th and 6th graders how to create pysanky. Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, bursts with activity as the campus transforms into a vast studio of kids and volunteers all focused on finding God through the arts.
Dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative craftsmanship, and even culinary arts come alive as we all learn how to nurture our creative souls.
For more information and to register, click here.
Through February 5, 2014
Some of my eggs are on display Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM at Gallery 625 in the County Administration Building 625 Court Street, Woodland, CA 95776
Maybe it’s my “almost-an-empty-nester” stage but more and more I find myself taking stock of where I am in life, where I thought I would be at this age, and wondering what I will become in the future. And of course those dreaded comparisons and regrets start creeping in. The what-ifs and why-didn’t-I’s can all too easily overwhelm me and take away the joy of the present.
A while back I came across a line about allowing God to transform the broken places in your life into prisms. Can’t you just see that? What a beautiful word picture of redemption and hope. That idea has been rolling around in the back of my head for a while and so I began to review my life again. What if I start looking at my faults as prisms reflecting God’s beauty outside of my selfish little world? How this happens I don’t know but I’m holding onto God’s goodness and grace and letting Him be in charge, or at least I’m trying to.
I love when God whispers His truth to me through my art. I love it even more when I pay attention and actually listen. Over the years I have collected quite a pile of broken eggs. Some were completed and accidentally cracked. Some didn’t turn out as I’d hoped and were abandoned partway through the process. I couldn’t bring myself to toss any of them so they just sat in a drawer collecting dust. Every time I opened the drawer they shouted at me that I had failed in some way.
Now what if I used those broken bits somehow? Could I really transform them into something more? After a lot of experimentation I can finally say yes.
These egg mosaics have been a challenge and a delight to create. I’m still discovering new ways to improve my designs and having fun in the process. Not only that, I will be teaching a class on this technique at the Pysanky USA retreat in Pennsylvania next week.
Passing It On
More than thirty years ago in my former life (those days before marriage and children) I worked as a registered nurse first in a hospital and then in a doctor’s office. Another life chapter began when I started teaching Body & Soul, an international program that combines faith and fitness. Twenty three years later I’m still leading my fitness class weekly and have also been speaking and demonstrating the art of pysanky to individuals and small groups whenever the opportunity arises.
As I reflect back on all those experiences I noticed a common thread…teaching. I never thought of myself as a teacher before but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense. Even when I worked as a nurse, the part I liked best was that one-on-one time teaching.
I delight in taking complex topics, breaking them down to understandable pieces, and communicating those ideas in a simple way the listener can grasp. I also love the challenge of coming up with different ways to transmit knowledge to help the student gain success. And I especially love seeing that student’s eyes light up with understanding when the “light bulb” turns on at last.
In a couple of weeks I get to teach another group of fifth and sixth grade students all about this egg art called pysanky. Arts Camp 2013 at Oak Hills Church in Folsom is one of the highlights of my year. Students from first through sixth grade come together for a week of fun and excitement where they explore a particular art and in the process learn more about the God who created them.
If you know of a student who might be interested, it’s not too late to sign up for this great adventure. My class still has a few spots left and I know there are openings in a wide variety of other arts as well. For more information, click here.
Let the fun begin!
My 15 Minutes of Fame
I got a package in the mail this week. I knew it was on its way but had nearly forgotten, so seeing it in the postal box and tearing it open brought a Christmas morning thrill. At last, the promised September 2012 issue from the Egg Artistry Guild of Australia. And on page 19 I found an article with my name and some photos of my eggs. I’m practically famous!
In case you’re wondering, here’s the path that led to this article. At the egg retreat in July I took a class on etching emu eggs and posted a photo of the finished egg to my pysanky chat group. The editor of the Australian Guild saw it, contacted the owner of Pysanky USA, the online store that sponsored the retreat, who called me to ask permission to pass on my information. A flurry of emails back and forth and voila, people in Australia are now reading my one page feature. Small world, huh?
Go See Dimitri
You can now find my eggs at Village Treasures in Fair Oaks Village. This eclectic shop combines jewelry services with interesting art, and fine olive oils, chocolate and honey. The owner, Dimitri Grekoff, is quite familiar not only with the art of pysanky but also with its cultural heritage. Besides that, he’s just fun to talk with, so if you’re looking for a field trip as we head into fall, wander over to Old Fair Oaks and stop in for a visit.
Village Treasures is located at 10144 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Fair Oaks, California
Floral Blues at the Kennedy
As part of the 4th Annual Spring Flower Show at the Kennedy Gallery you can see some of my classic blue and white eggs in various sizes from quail to ostrich.
Join the artists this Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 8 PM at the Preview Thursday Reception.
And don’t forget the Second Saturday Artwalk April 14 from 4 to 9 PM.
I believe God built into each of us a desire for community, both with Him and with our fellow travelers on this earth. As an artist, I find that rubbing elbows with other artists inspires my in my art and in my spiritual walk in a way nothing else does. And I don’t get to experience that very often. That’s why I so look forward to the annual conference on faith and art called Intersections, held at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California.
This conference covers a broad range of the arts, from drama, to dance, to music, to film, to visual, technical, and even the culinary arts. Throughout the day we were encouraged to use the supplies on our tables to paint a small section of plastic that we could stick to a window in the back of the auditorium. As the day progressed, so did our group “stained glass window.”
The visual artists were easy to spot. They dove right into the paints and started producing multiple pieces right away. I found watching the non-visual artists even more interesting. In some I saw the initial reluctance give way to experimentation and finally a joy at simply playing with paint.
Even more fun, was watching people add their painted pieces to the growing design on the window. Intricate designs and plain colored pieces randomly combined to create beauty where before there was nothing but empty space.
Great speakers, God-breathed conversations, and thought-provoking words filled our time together. The icing on the cake for me came as we wrapped up at the end of the day. With the light from outside shining in, our group “stained glass window” became a physical representation of community to me. And I needed that. I really needed that. In fact, we all do.
Eggs in Red at the Kennedy Gallery
The changing season brings a new pysanky display to the Kennedy Gallery. Ostrich, goose, duck, and chicken eggs in brilliant reds offer lots eye candy just in time for the holiday season. Take a peek at these and all the other art in this wonderful midtown Sacramento gallery.
New at the Ordaz Gallery
Need an excuse to go for a short drive? Come see some of my Christmas pysanky at the Ordaz Gallery in old town Auburn, California. Frank Ordaz, an award-winning oil painter, specializes in portraits and you can chat with him as he works in this downtown gallery/studio Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Black and White at the Kennedy
My eggs go formal at the Kennedy Gallery, 1114 20th Street,Sacramento,CA,95811. These black and white pysanky feature a wide variety of designs without the distraction of color.
And if you’re looking for an excuse to get out and about, Second Saturday Artwalk happens this weekend and provides a great opportunity to explore the art galleries in midtown.
Arts Camp 2011
What a joy to spend a high energy week teaching kids about art and God. And I don’t say that very often because I highly value my personal, quiet spaces in life. I am definitely not a high-energy extrovert but I love watching kids blossom as they discover their own artist within.
This year’s class was the best ever. My five fifth and sixth grade girls picked up the basics of using the wax and dyes very quickly and soon began experimenting with colors and designs on their own eggs. And best of all, as they concentrated our classroom became a tiny quiet oasis amidst the chaos of over 400 smiling kids, helpers, teachers, musicians, and support staff across the Oak Hills Church campus. I think my class, students and teachers alike, especially enjoyed that part of each day.
The week finished on a high note with a Friday night Showcase for all the parents. Afterwards exhausted but excited, I found myself already looking forward to next year’s Arts Camp. Incredible, isn’t it? In spite of the hectic schedule, the crazy hours, and the energy it took many of us felt this same way. It’s a God thing.
If a Tree Falls in the Forest…
Sharing our art with others brings up the question, “Is it still art even if no one else ever sees it?” I used to think the answer was a total yes, but now I’m not so sure. Art has both a giving and a receiving aspect. It involves both the artist and the art patron. I believe it was actually meant to be shared with a wider audience and not hoarded by its creator.
As some of you may know, in addition to being an egg artist, I also play the cello. I have been taking lessons for a while now and find it’s the most absorbing and yet most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted. I work hard when I practice and enjoy it tremendously. What I don’t enjoy are the recitals my teacher schedules two or three times each year. Thankfully he has separate ones for his younger and older students. Believe me, it really helps to know I won’t have to follow a fourth grader playing a piece much more difficult than mine. Still, I get nervous at the thought of playing in public. And just so you understand how much of a weenie I am, this particular “public” is only the other adult students and sometimes a few family members. Even so, it is PUBLIC playing, not my usual me-and-the-cello-with-the-door-to-the-rest-of-the-house-closed.
I’ve been told repeatedly that the more you do something, the easier it gets. I know lots of “real musicians” who say they love playing before an audience. I have to say I’m still waiting for that to happen with me. On the feeling scale from “terrifying to fun,” my score is still a lot closer to terrified. But I keep at it because I want to be able to share my music with others. As a growth area in my life, this is not easy but I’m convinced it’s absolutely necessary. My prayer is that I will continue to step outside my comfortable boundaries to see what God has in store for me out there. In the meantime, I have to go practice!
In the News
Here’s a link to the May 2011 Sacramento Talent Magazine. Check out page 16 for an article on me and my eggs.
And if you want to see how they are made, come to Bella Fiore on Saturday, May 14 where I’ll be demonstrating the process from 5 to 9 PM.