On setting a high bar

On setting a high bar

Whenever I read a rough draft by a young writer, or when I look over a business plan from a student asking me for feedback, or when I am pitched an idea for a collaboration or project, I think of a woman named Cynthia. I don't even know her last name, but she had a profound impact on me.

Art for Justice: a healing tool for prisoners seeking redemption

Art for Justice: a healing tool for prisoners seeking redemption

In the classic book by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, the main character, Dantes, is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit and spends years of his life in solitary confinement with no relief. I remember reading the passage and imagining the hopelessness of the situation...

The woman who inspired “Discovery,” Therese Stark Renz

The woman who inspired “Discovery,” Therese Stark Renz

This week I finished the first painting in a new series. This series is inspired by extraordinary women throughout history whose stories are compelling. I wanted to center around women that most people have never heard of: who are not household names, but whose acts of bravery, and contributions to society have made a great impact or are amazing to think of. My goal with this series is to awaken the part of the viewer that is brave or has greatness within, and inspire them to greater heights.

Non-performance anxiety

Non-performance anxiety

I just returned from a wonderful family vacation in Maine and am in the midst of post-vacation bliss. The serenity of the landscapes at Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island provided for a much-needed escape from a challenging year and the endless pressures of modern life. With little access to the internet and no cell phone signal, there was no choice but to unplug. It was as marvelous as it sounds.

Career self-management for artists

Career self-management for artists

Unless you are employed by a company like Disney, and clock in and out for your job titled “Artist,” the artist is a professional that is largely self-managed. You make your own hours, your own schedule, and have the flexibility that goes along with it–something very alluring and that most people dream of. However, along with this freedom comes a heavy responsibility, as any entrepreneur knows. Yes, you may be doing what you love, but you also have to figure out all the aspects of the business.

The artist’s role in society

The artist’s role in society

Recently I’ve been thinking about professions, pay, and service. Why do some professions pay more than others? For instance, why does a doctor get paid more hourly than a barista? This has nothing to do with the worthwhile efforts of either of the people holding these jobs. You could be the best barista on the planet, make the best cup of coffee in the world and serve it with pleasantness, with a design in the foam of your own making. However, as long as you stay a barista, you will not be compensated for your time and expertise in the way that a doctor will. Why?

Love & fame

Love & fame

A year ago, I moved to Philadelphia to do two things: to live with my girlfriend, who had just taken a teaching position in Wilmington, and to write. I had just graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, where I studied poetry. I had 30-something pages of thesis manuscript to work with, all of which I've since abandoned. I wrote a few new poems. I worked two jobs. I published a book review. I read submissions, briefly, for a poetry journal. I started a blog.

Reading as a creative act

Reading as a creative act

In the introduction to the wonderfully insightful book Genership 1.0, David Castro writes, "The journey of self-discovery involves the possibility of transcendence. The effort to see ourselves changes us. Thomas Mann reminded us that '[n]o one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.' We are the sculptor; we are the stone. The strangely transformational search for true human nature belongs not only to myth-makers, poets and philosophers.