IF I am Not going to Disney world…what next?

When I was bored as a child, I would ask my Mom for something to do.  Her response was always:

If you don’t know what to do next, just do something.

Next: Learn something.


Beach Roses—that is what most people call rosa rugosa. Rugosa means wrinkled. They are very high in vitamin C.

Rosa rugosa was first introduced into North America in 1845. The first report of it being naturalized far from the location in which it was planted occurred on Nantucket in 1899. Ten years later it was said to be “straying rapidly” and today it is naturalized on the entire coast of New England.

So I learned to make rose hip jelly. It’s a long tedious process.

1. Park at the side of the road along back shore of Peaks Island, Maine

2. Pick rose hips until your back is tired or the sun set takes your breath away. sunset

3. Sort through and discard gushy wormy ones. De- stem.rosehip-1




4. Cut in half

5. Place in large potrosehip-2

6. Cover with water

7. Simmerrosehip-3

8.Intermittently mash down with potato masher


9. Strain in cheese cloth straining

10. Freeze juice

And in the middle of winter when you are stuck in the house during a snowstorm, make the jelly.


Small world: While living in Portland prior to the Welcoming The Stranger exhibit, I re-connected with the community in which I had grown up – the Munjoy Hill neighborhood, Etz Chaim synagogue, forgotten relatives, summer camp friends, class mates – (even my senior prom date.)

Each #weavethetent event, First Friday openings or  a community workshop became a kind of ‘Pop Up’ Reunion.

One of those chance encounters was with a member of my high school swim team – Sherry Dickstein. We had served together on the newspaper, Year Book, social club, prom committee. She became a doctor and resides in Greensboro, NC. And by the way, her husband, Dr. Kurt Lauenstein, wrote a book to commemorate the 100th year of their synagogue. She sent me a copy. Maybe I would like to visit Greensboro.



Next: Read something.

Established in 1908 by prominent members of the then small Jewish community, Temple Emmanuel has always been known as a Temple of Involvement. The names Sternberger and Cone not only appear in the boxes of papers in the temple archives, but are visible on public buildings throughout Greensboro.




From its inception the congregation of Temple Emanuel was active in all aspects of the community: immigrant aid, women’s rights, schools, housing for workers, YMCA’s and the textile industry.

Small world:

Temple Emanuel is now home to more than 500 families, day school, and supports numerous community programs. Upon the completion of its new synagogue, the members of Temple Emanuel decided to retain the historic Greene Street synagogue.






This year, the kitchen is being renovated. And a hallway art gallery installed.


Next: Advocate something.sign

The streets in the Maryland town where I live are named for famous Quakers – Farquhar, Benedum,  Shepherd. (And William Henry Rinehart – sculptor but that’s another story.)pipe-creek

Since 2001, (pending invasions of Afghanistan/Iraq), on Sundays, I have sat in silence with members of the Pipe Creek Society of Friends (Quaker) community.

Greensboro, North Carolina was settled by Native Americans, Scots-Irish, African Americans and Germans. Some of the earliest settlers were Quaker immigrants from Maryland.guilford

At the turn of the century, Quakers harbored the southern-most point of the Underground Railroad in the woods surrounding the present-day Guilford College.

Guilford is known for its unique curriculum. The 2100 students there can choose majors like Peace and Conflict Studies and Community and Justice Studies.

In response to her need to “do something” about the current refugee crisis, Diva Abdo, Associate Professor of English at Guilford founded the ‘Every campus a refuge’ program.

Inspired by the Pope’s call on every parish to host one refugee family, guided by its Quaker tradition, and animated by the Arab-Islamic word for campus (حرم) which means “sanctuary.”  Every Campus a Refuge calls on every college and university around the world to host one refugee family on their campus grounds and to assist them in resettlement.

Thus far, Guilford College has hosted a Ugandan and two Syrian families on its campus grounds.

Small world:

Jane Fernandes, current President of Guilford College, was the Provost in 2000 at Gallaudet University. I graduated from Gallaudet and taught at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School. Gallaudet College is the only liberal arts college for the deaf. Yes, I know sign language.


Next: Weave Something

While writing a review of Welcoming the Stranger for the International Sculpture Center Sculpture Magazine, B. Amore, my mentor and founder of the Carving Studio, asked:

What are you going to do with the exhibit next?

While visiting the Guilford College campus, I met with Theresa Hammond, Founding Director and Curator of the Guilford College Art Gallery. We talked – a lot. About – Quakers, Art, Welcoming the Stranger….and we made a plan to do somethingtheresa

It seemed to be a perfect confluence of events: synagogue kitchen, Guilford ‘every campus a refuge’ project and the Fabric of Freedom theme of the upcoming Folklife festival. So I returned to my studio and  started sending emails, making phone calls and contacting potential partners to find a way to bring Welcoming the Stranger to Greensboro.


Small world:

North Carolina Folklife Festival – Fabric of Freedom September 10, 11 2016

In 2014, the City of Greensboro passed a resolution declaring itself a welcoming city – “one that affirms the beauty and richness of our diversity, and one in which all are welcomed, accepted and appreciated.

This year’s theme is Fabric of Freedom. The festival is a series of arts programs that celebrate the diversity and cultural history of Greensboro, host city for the National Folk Festival (2015-2017). Exhibits, music, dance, community events, and more will be presented in venues across the city throughout September.

On September 10 and 11, I will be at the North Carolina Folklife Festival to create ‘journey loom’ weavings. Participants at the #weavethetent events will work together to add panels to Abraham’s tent.

The community weavings will be included in the Welcoming the Stranger exhibit at Guilford College Art Gallery, opening September 14 and continuing to October 30, 2016.

Temple Emanuel will also partner with Guilford to exhibit Sarah’s Generosity in conjunction with the renovation of the Greene Street kitchen.

Next: Sing Somethingmoose

 On the 19 hour drive from Maine to North Carolina in a very packed rental van, while my Installation Team that consists of my kayak coach/tent rigger/performance artist and overall good guy who is willing to carry lots of heavy stuff but drives with ear buds listening to a book – my brain was taken over by ‘ear worms.” earbudsActually one particular ear worm.

In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 and prior to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Walt Disney commissioned song writers Robert and Richard Sherman to create one song that could be translated into different languages as part of its exhibit for the US exhibit hall.

I may not be going to Disney world but I am going to Greensboro AND as this exhibit takes shape, with the help of so many organizations and volunteers, I realize once again,

It’s a small world after all….


It’s a world of laughter

A world of tears

It’s a world of hope

A world of fears

There’s so much that we share

that it’s time we’re aware

it’s a small world after all…

Follow the progress of the installation of Abraham’s Tent at Guilford College and events at the North Carolina Folklife Festival and Fabric of Freedom:

Instagram: #weavethetent


Susan Andre preparing display table.

Facebook:         Welcoming the Stranger Art



Gregg Bolton working on booth installation.


Guilford RA’s ripping fabric with which to weave on the Journey Looms.


Line to weave the tent.








#weave the tent at the North Carolina Folk Festival










Detoured Along the Path

The shortest distance between two points is NEVER a straight line if it’s a public art project. Especially if a hurricane named Sandy decides to visit the day you are to begin working.

The stone arrived from Indiana in the middle of a rodeo – the snowplow rodeo. If you ever wondered how snowplow drivers avoid mailboxes, sidewalk curbs, and the occasional snow covered vehicle, it’s because they practice – a lot. Drivers maneuver their plows around and between cones while someone clocks their time with a stop watch. No one wears a cowboy hat. (There is a however, a real rodeo 4 miles from my firehouse in Johnsville, Maryland. They ride real bulls and wear cowboy hats.

In the world of stone transport, trucking companies deliver but do not off-load. When the truck finally made it’s way to the Carroll County Highway Maintenance Facility gate, the front end loader and crew were waiting.

The operator of the loader maneuvered the “forks” under the stone and lifted it off the bed of the truck.  Using hand signals, the crew guided his movements. As he placed the stone into the workspace, I once again appreciated the skills and knowledge of those whose work is often invisible in our daily lives.

Setting up a Studio

A stone sculptor’s studio is a lot like an auto repair shop: filled with large objects that need moving, littered with tools of all shapes and sizes and accompanied by the sound of a pneumatic tool.  In repair shops, there are lifts. In stone studios, there are gantrys.

A gantry is like an engine hoist – only bigger. You use it to move stone as you sculpt. When I first moved into the firehouse, I needed a custom made gantry. At the hardware store in town, I asked about a welder. “Go to Bill Lee.”  He occupied a ramshackle shop on the corner of Rt. 75 and Clemsonville Road just outside of Union Bridge. The yard was ‘littered’ with metal of various shapes and sizes, some abandoned vehicles and smoke from the wood stove. His dog “Bear” announced all visitors. Every year, Bill planted potatoes in the field behind his shop. Bill was born to weld. I often sat next to his wood stove and watched him work. He once told me that he left school early because the moment he learned to weld, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing it.

On his way to the Post Office one day, he showed up at my studio, took a few measurements, and a week later, installed the gantry. It fit perfectly. Bill has since passed away. He took with him a lifetime of knowledge.   He was an artisan.

The bill of laden said my stone weighed 18000 lbs or as I explain to friends: it is equal weight to the following: 9 elephants or 9 Smart cars. It was too big to work on in the Firehouse.

So, I took my tools, compressors, hose reel, grinders, scaffolding, gloves, masks, ear and eye protection, a few big crow bars, extension cords, miscellaneous tools, a hand cart, a dolley, a chalkboard and a comfy chair to the “Studio Annex.” I would also need my gantry.

At the hardware store in town, I once again asked for a welder. “Go to Kyle.” His shop is near the intersection of 77 and 194 in Keymar. Although there was no sign, it was easy to locate. The yard was filled with metal of various shapes and sizes and a field of seemingly abandoned vehicles. There was smoke coming out of a wood stove chimney.

Before I could finish explaining what I needed, Kyle stopped me. When he was 14 years old, he had been Bill Lee’s apprentice. In fact, his wood stove had belonged to Bill. He explained the intricate process he and Bill devised to install the gantry.  He would reverse it to de-install and move it. Kyle Palumbo is the owner of Welding Contractors LLC.  Like his mentor, he was born to weld. He is another artisan in my life. 


Stone carvers cannot work alone. When I went to Italy to learn stone carving, I also learned that many artists work with artigiani. In the world of stone, they are considered, not only skilled sculptors, but a national treasure. They can copy works of art and enlarge designs made by artists.  They use large drills and saws to remove excess stone. There is a long history of hiring artisans to help execute a piece. The book ‘The Art of Not Making: The New Artist/ Artisan Relationship ‘ explores the relationship between artist and artisan.

The design of Liber is a triangular form. Therefore, the rectangular block of stone must be split.  It is hard to imagine removing 8000 lbs of stone before beginning the actual sculpture. It is do- able but the amount of time required would prevent me from meeting my deadline.

Many stone carvers pass through the doors of The Vermont Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in Vermont. We come to learn, to teach, to network, to support the continuation of the craft. B Amore, founder and past director, has been my mentor for 25 years. I often turn to her for advice and support. She provides it willingly and generously.  B has been carving since she was a child. She creates public works and is familiar with the challenges of working large pieces of stone. She advised seeking an artigiani.

Rick Rothrock is also an alum of the Carving Studio. We have never met but have spent a month emailing about the vagaries of working limestone. He collaborates with sculptors. I have asked him to work with me. He has agreed.

My artigiani arrives today. And that hour we lost last spring will be returning this weekend…and I have a good use for it.