Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heart Felt Art

Joplin Tornado Project
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. -Seneca

I was asked to be part of an amazing art project that I'm so excited to share with you.  

On May 22, 2011, a major tornado struck the town of Joplin, Missouri.  160 people died and it now ranks as one of Missouri and America's deadliest tornadoes.

Kansas City Artist, Matthew Dehaemers dreamt up an idea - to gather a group of artists who could transform debris left from the tornado devastation into works of art, with the intention to give back to the people of Joplin.  So he gathered a crew and they collected tons of materials from the wreckage - wood, metal, windows, doors, toys, bikes, car parts - just to name a few. 

Joplin Tornado Project 2

The team joined together with a local gallery, Leedy Voulkos, and created Project Reclamation.  Over 90 artists sifted through the collected debris and have created beautiful works of art.  These finished art pieces will be auctioned off at the Twist & Shout Art Auction, this Saturday, August 27th, from 6-9. (If you live in the Kansas City area, please come out and support this wonderful cause!  Admission is $5 or you can bring a new art supply.)  100% of the proceeds collected from this event will be donated to support artists and arts education programming in Joplin.

Joplin Basket

My husband and I both made an art piece for the auction.  We kept our collections simple - he chose an old wooden door and I stumbled across this sewing basket.  The Precious Moments embroidery patterns, reading glasses, needles and thread were all still intact. As I looked through each item, I felt such compassion and tried to imagine whom this might have belonged to.  Maybe a grandmother who was planning to make gifts for her grandchildren this Christmas?  How sad to think she may have lost everything, maybe someone she loved, or maybe even her own life.  I don't know who this belongs to, but this basket has a story - one that I tried to respect as I created my piece. 

Joplin Project Thread Found

I chose to use the embroidery floss that I found inside the basket and incorporated it into my felting.  I gathered my wool, hot water and soap (while my boys played with the soapy water, too) and felted a landscape of flowers opening up to the big blue sky.  I had never needle felted embroidery floss before, and I really like how it turned out.

Joplin Project Needle Felting

I also used the needle and thread found in the basket for all my stitching and finishing touches.

Joplin Needle and Thread

I loved felting this piece!  I thought a lot about the preciousness of life while creating it - and was again reminded about how everything in this world is temporary - and how wonderfully important it is to awaken to the present moment.

Joplin Final Flowers

There is a lot of devastation in the world, that is for sure.  And there is so much beauty.   When we fall, it is in the rising up where we tend to build the most strength, clarity and wisdom.    

Joplin Stems

I feel honored and blessed to be part of such a compassionate project.
I am grateful for this moment.
And I embrace the possibilities that come from new beginnings.

Your Personal Reflection:  How can you rise up from a challenge you may be facing in your own life and start living more for this moment?

Joplin Final Felting

Spring is a time of renewal, with flowers rising up from the ground as a sign of rebirth, bringing color to the landscape and joy to hearts.  "Rising Up" symbolizes the rite of spring when the land comes to life.  In this work, the hand-felted poppies rise up from the ground on stems of yarn and embroidery floss gathered from the sewing basket of a needlesmith strewn in the wind from the Joplin tornado.  Just as spring brings color and joy, "Rising Up" is about new beginnings and the amazing beauty Mother Nature provides.


  1. Your felted 'painting' is beautiful, such a sun-filled piece from so much devastation - it touches me deeply. The whole idea of the project is beautiful - to create beauty and meaning from things torn apart. I hope the auction goes well - with all that heart, thought and soul put into it, it should!

  2. wow shannon! this looks like a van gogh painting. gorgeous gorgeous work! i love it. it makes me want to make one too. i am rising up right now from my morning sickness which is leaving my body (yes!!!) and am enjoying drawing 'worlds' on large pieces of paper along the floor with ezra. so nice to have the energy once again to be the mom i like to be.

  3. truly stunning. What a beautiful community project and act of love and respect.

  4. What a beautiful piece of art!!
    The vibrant colors and all the meaning you put into it make it really special!

  5. This is such a wonderful project and your contribution is beautiful. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog today. I look forward to spreading the word about what you're doing!

  6. Thanks SO much - happy you like the piece. I just posted about the event and the lovely woman who purchased it. xo


Thanks for sharing!