Saturday, July 4, 2020

It’s about Light: The Art of Life
New York & Diversity

When I moved to New York, I was blessed to have a family of friends who came from all corners of the world and as I worked at the United Nations, my world was as diverse as can be. Hence I felt truly at home in such a diverse and international environment.

Women & Men of New York (2019)
In fact, this was the inspiration of my two exhibitions about New York’s diversity for which the main subjects, women, and men were from diverse countries.  Women of New York featured portraits of 15 women from all walks of life who, just like me, came to New York to make a new life while celebrating diversity and humanity.  I wanted to show that diversity among people is enriching and the importance of friendship which carried me along at difficult times, especially when my mother passed away. Through one-on-one interviews, they shared memories, their challenges of being a woman in a competitive world.  

The inspiration for this project came from my mother whose strength to overcome the many challenges she faced, not only as a mother but also as a woman whose heart was so big that it could contain the whole of humanity.  My mother was the pillar of the family.

New York Skyline - Vintage 
Since my family of friends was comprised of men who also came from diverse countries, I decided to pay tribute to them as well before my departure from New York as I had to retire at the age of 62 in 2017.  The format of the exhibition was the same as that of the Woman of New York, with one-on-one interviews and I did their portraits to not only show diversity but also to show their character strength.

In both instances, the experience proved to be an incredible journey into the lives of people who became friends as a result of our gatherings, eating dinner together at my apartment and although they all came from diverse countries, we shared that common thread, that of our common humanity. 

Peace Bell at the United Nations
These two exhibitions, as well as others of cultural exchange initiatives, demonstrate that art has no frontiers, it’s a universal language that speaks to us all in time and space, beyond the many barriers of different civilizations.

The aim of these two exhibitions was to demonstrate that what makes New York a vibrant city is not about the rich and famous but about people whose cultural diversity enrich New York’s society.  My young journalist friend, Vincenza di Maggio, who wrote about both exhibitions in La Voce di New York made reference to the invaluable contribution of these women and men of New York: “They are rich, not in money, but in their desire to experience life to the fullest, explore new horizons, meet and form relationships with people of all cultural backgrounds. They have achieved a level of success in a city known to easily break down its inhabitants, but more importantly, they are passionate about the work they do. Whether it’s through art, architecture, journalism, real estate, setting up missions in countries around the world through the United Nations, or through their involvement in activist organizations, they use their interests and talents to give something of value to society and promote social change.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

It’s about Light: The Art of Life
Life & Friendship

Fay & Terry in Pujols, France (2018)
I heard the sad news today that my dear friend, Fay Kelly, passed away yesterday.  I am in shock and in disbelief that her life ended so abruptly.  I have such fond memories of time spent together in France and in New York when she visited me. I will miss Fay and the memories will stay with me for she played an important role in my life.  


Fay, Louise and me - chez Louise Finn in Pujols (2018)
While I was creating a new life, I was blessed to meet people who became my family of friends and who enriched my life in countless ways.  During those nine years I spent in New York away from my family in Canada, my friends were there for me and I am forever grateful to my friend, Fay Kelly, who flew from England to take care of me after my operation when I was diagnosed with cancer. Before she returned to England, I organized a thank-you dinner at the local café in Tudor City, which was closed at night but the owner, who was a friend of mine, cooked couscous for us, and our first “Life & Friendship” gathering took place. 


This was the beginning of a fascinating journey for the “Life & Friendship” gathering took a life of its own and became a reoccurring event that grew as more friends joined in.  When people move to New York, they don’t have their family nearby and, therefore, friends become family.

It’s about Light: The Art of Life

Trees of my world
As they say, there is always a silver lining when struggling with difficult experiences and art has been and remains my ultimate quest for a meaningful life.  Jean Houston writes about creativity: “Now, creativity doesn’t have to lead to something.  It doesn’t have to result in a song, a dance, a novel, a better mousetrap.  The greatest form of creativity is the re-creation of yourself.  Moreover, the creative work you do on yourself will heighten your capacity for creativity in other things”. 

Creating a new life requires a sense of resilience to transform which also means letting go of the past which also means peeling away layers of false interpretations, beliefs, and expectations.

When building a new life, remembering only sorrows or painful moments increases negativity while practicing gratitude improves not only life in general but also it improves creativity and the healing process. Sometimes we block our own growth while being challenged. 

Trees of my world bis
In a state of creativity, one gets a glimpse of eternity for there is no time, no space, only intense and pure joy, pure bliss.  This is how I feel when I am in harmony with nature which brings me into a state of creativity being in tune with life, with the universe.  It’s as if yielding to a power not my own and beyond me, surrendering to a power greater than I can even imagine, flowing with the immense flow of existence where lies real life, for real life is love, creativity, beauty, and harmony.





Friday, June 26, 2020

The Art of Life – the UN Path

The United Nations Headquarters in 1952
Today marks the signing of the United Nations Charter 75 years ago which is taking place during an unprecedented time in history as the high-level debate of the General Assembly will take place via pre-recorded statements.


When I moved to New York for the first time in 1989 to work at the United Nations, I felt so at home working in an international environment while living in such an exciting city, rich with its cultural diversity.  I had the chance to meet some wonderful people who are, to this day, still my friends.

While working at the United Nations in New York in the 1990s, I had the opportunity of meeting people from all over the world and, as a result of my working in the office the Under-Secretary-General for Public Information, I also met some important public figures. At that time, there were a great many changes in the world.

Audrey Hepburn at UN Radio
I will never forget during an international conference for the Rights of the Child Summit when Audrey Hepburn came to our office to rest for I believe she was ill at the time.  It was a magical moment and inspiring for she was humble with a very kind disposition, unlike a movie star. What I admired the most about Hepburn was not only because she was a great actress, but also that she used her fame for a humanitarian cause.  In her biography by Barry Paris: “from 1988 until the end of her lifeHepburn became a special ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund.  Her trips to Ethiopia and Somalia demonstrated her whole-hearted and tireless commitment.  Never before had so great a star so vigorously lent herself to such a crusade.” 

Faced with a global pandemic, we are reminded what truly matters and if we look deeper, it’s more than the material and the need to accumulate things, it’s more about the love we give and receive, about compassion for those who are suffering.    

Thursday, June 25, 2020

It's about Light: The Art of Life


Our Love is Here to Stay
Early on at an early age, I went searching for the meaning of life leaving home, unprepared for such an adventure, at the age of 17 to follow the love of my life for, in my view, love was the answer to all my problems.  One of my favorite philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard writes: “What, after all, is a human being without love?” Romantic loving is beautiful because it is intoxicating and extraordinarily interesting and transforms one’s life so much that it feels as if it is of mythological proportions.’’  However, Kierkegaard also viewed loving relationships as a reflection of a lack of self-development ending in despair. 

Despair I have experienced when my marriage ended after nine years, living both in the United States and in Belgium, after which the real adventure of my life began when I was prompted to turn to my artistic calling.  When the heart is filled with pain, we tend to find a way to heal and art is what brought me back to life.  I had been in front of the camera throughout our married life, for my ex-husband was a photographer, and thanks to him, I was introduced to photography when he offered me my first 35mm camera, a Yashica, as a birthday gift. 

Nevertheless, I can reflect on my life now, and actually, I can see that there are no real mistakes.  Life challenges are what constitutes the notion of the human experience and that’s what it means to live life, that unbearable lightness of being.  When reflecting about life and death, we tend to connect the dots for every experience, every person we meet along the way brings something to enrich our lives.  After all, in the whole spectrum of the universe, we are stardust, we are small dots in the midst of an infinite universe. 
It's about Light: The Art of Life

Early on at an early age, I went searching for the meaning of life leaving home, unprepared for such an adventure, at the age of 17 to follow the love of my life for, in my view, love was the answer to all my problems.  One of my favorite philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard writes: “What, after all, is a human being without love?” Romantic loving is beautiful because it is intoxicating and extraordinarily interesting and transforms one’s life so much that it feels as if it is of mythological proportions.’’  However, Kierkegaard also viewed loving relationships as a reflection of a lack of self-development ending in despair. 

Despair I have experienced when my marriage ended after nine years, living both in the United States and in Belgium, after which the real adventure of my life began when I was prompted to turn to my artistic calling.  When the heart is filled with pain, we tend to find a way to heal and art is what brought me back to life.  I had been in front of the camera throughout our married life, for my ex-husband was a photographer, and thanks to him, I was introduced to photography when he offered me my first 35mm camera, a Yashica, as a birthday gift. 

In Paris
Nevertheless, I can reflect on my life now, and actually, I can see that there are no real mistakes.  Life challenges are what constitutes the notion of the human experience and that’s what it means to live life, that unbearable lightness of being.  When reflecting about life and death, we tend to connect the dots for every experience, every person we meet along the way brings something to enrich our lives.  After all, in the whole spectrum of the universe, we are stardust, we are small dots in the midst of an infinite universe. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

It's about light: the Art of Life

Trees of Friendship
Tree Web of Friendship
My inquiry into the meaning of life is an on-going process as is the case for any artist trying to bring more meaning into artmaking. I’m getting older and I wonder if I’ll be able to make all my dreams come true as an artist while bringing more meaning into my life.  I also realize how life is so precious and especially now, as death is on the horizon with this global pandemic, life is even more precious and that of the people I love.  Although I have no family of my own, I feel very blessed to have my siblings, my cousins, and my family of friends who enrich my life in countless ways.  I am so grateful to have met people who crossed my path along the way and who remain part of my life for distances don’t matter when friendship is of the heart. These memoirs are somewhat dedicated to all the people in my life who bring meaning to my existence together with my art. 


It is unsettling when we realize our finality and that there is no escape from such a reality.  Does it always take a tragedy to bring meaning to life? How does one bring more meaning into one’s life? Eric Maisel in his book, “Coaching the artist within”, makes reference to the difficulty in bringing meaning not only to our life but also to our art, to get a grip of the mind and to achieve being present in order to do art from within, the deep source: “We are spiritual beings trying to learn how to live in the physical body, as opposed to human beings trying to learn how to be spiritual.”

Trees of Life & Friendship