A Sudden Burst of Creativity and Fundraising

I want to show you a short video we shot in our new Amri Studio headquarters in Portland, OR – snippets of a spontaneous evening of art, dance, song, and philanthropy that I created with my staff, my neighbors, and Kathy Kingston, a world-class philanthropic auctioneer.

We were auctioning time to work with us at the studio to create a small piece of art glass. The proceeds went to support p:ear, a Portland nonprofit that uses art, education and recreation to mentor homeless young people, and has a gallery to display their art. Auction attendees were bidding for time in our studio to work with us and create their own piece of art glass.

Stas Afanisiev, a young professional photographer/videographer in the Portland Area, caught some choice fleeting moments of the evening on video.

A confluence of blessings and motivations resulted in this marvelous evening. I wanted to celebrate:

  • My happiness at moving to the beautiful community-minded city of Portland.
  • My desire to honor my talented new staff and their youthful, receptive, creative, playful spirits.
  • My wonderful neighborhood and awesome neighbors here in the Pearl/ABC/Slabtown area of northwest Portland.
  • The joy of creation: The giant LCD screens you see in the video happened to be in our studio because we were testing them. They are state-of-the-art, commercial 4K LCD screens that will be used in our first digital Donor Recognition project. This will be installed shortly at Boston Children’s Hospital and has animation featuring charming art by children’s book illustrator and artist Elly McKay from Canada.

On the LCD screens we showed with random movies, including a dazzling abstract art Vimeo film that showed ice cubes melting with cool music in the background – and we thought, someone needs to dance in front of this! One of our collaborative artists, David, and a young new dancer, Amanda Ingleheart of the Northwest Dance Project, did the honors. Then our staff member Zak Austin played guitar and sang his own compositions.

Our studio neighbors at Barefoot Sound, which does zero-distortion speakers for rock stars worldwide, loaned us two top of the line engineeredspeakers that filled our entire 5,000 sq. ft. studio with glorious sound.

 

Singer and voice teacher Daniel Buchanan of re:sound:NW, which he founded, sang Hallelujah, and the amazing Kathy Kingston, who does strategic planning and consulting and award-winning philanthropic fundraising auctioneering, donated her talents to auction off some of our time and attention at the studio for two people to come in and make something in art glass.  P.S. Kathy just published an acclaimed new book on fundraising,A Higher Bid, an Amazon-bestseller in its category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The serendipity of having world-class speakers and screens, a world-class auctioneer, our own prize-winning art glass on display, the huge talents of our internal team and so many Portland locals, and the excitement about coming together as a community to have some fun and do some good for p:ear… it reminded me of the image of Indra's Net.

A story from both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions tells of the abode of the great god Indra, king of heaven, where hangs a wondrous vast net, much like a spider's web in intricacy and loveliness. It stretches out indefinitely in all directions. At each node, or crossing point, of the net hangs a single glittering jewel. Since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.

The polished surface of each gem reflects all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number, just as two mirrors placed opposite each other reflect an image ad infinitum. Each jewel reflected in the one gem also reflects all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is itself infinite.

Each of us is a sparkling jewel in Indra's Net, as is every person around you. Every jewel is connected with all the other jewels in the net; every person is intimately connected with all the other persons in the universe. Each has an independent place within the net and we all reflect and influence each other.

May we all hold this image in mind and remember that we are deeply connected to each other, for good or ill, and have a huge capacity for sharing our creativity and love and hope for infinite possibilities.

Making a Move (and Taking a Break)

Portland at night by Jim Nix
Photo by Jim Nix from his blog Nomadic Pursuits

We have finally completed the long-contemplated move of our Studio from the rolling hills of California wine country to Portland, Oregon, home to exciting new ventures, lots of young talent, and other wonderful resources.

It's also a lot easier to fly in and out of, which is a real benefit to our new and existing clients who come to see their pieces during the design or sandblasting stage. 

Our new contact information is Amri Studio, 826-B NW 18th Ave., Portland, OR 97209; tel 503 488-5638; fax 503 980-1316. No change to email or website. I'll talk more about our new Portland team, assets, and resources in a later blog.

Taking a Break to Rest and Reflect

On Monday, July 27, we begin our Studio’s our annual two-week summer closure (reopening Monday, August 10).

This is a time for the entire staff (including me!) to rest, renew, and refresh our spirits -- and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines we don't allow ourselves enough time to focus on anything but the details and getting the job done on time.

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we remember the big picture and are inspired anew. Let me tell you one of my very favorite stories about the difference between the coping with the immediate task and the big picture way of doing our work.

St. Paul's painting

 Watercolor of St. Paul’s Cathedral by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677 when Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

St Paul's plans

Sir Thomas Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making on his huge creation. He stopped to speak to one of the stonecutters, and asked the man what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the he replied, a big testily. “Each one the same as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”

Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing.

“Why, sir, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone should need to ask.

Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.

The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.

 “I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said with a deeply furrowed smile.

 collage

Two photos at left by Gabriel Harber; at right, detail from Donor Wall we created at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston, WV 

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in very large part on the context in which we hold that work.  For me, designing and carving architectural art glass and stone -- or working in etched metal or porcelain enamel -- is not just about sandblasting tiny lines and curves into panels of crystal, or even about running a successful small business in a field I love.

Christina cropped at trade showIt’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions, and staff members who together are doing vital and heartfelt work to make our world a better place. I feel honored myself to be a part of their endeavors.

And that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming two weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in our new Studio in Portland.

Christina color sig-1

 

Donor Recognition for a Hospital Close to My Heart

Building a new community hospital is an act of love -- and patience and determination and cooperation and generosity!

The new Sutter Santa Rosa (CA) Regional Hospital, right here in the town where Amri Studio has had its home for 30+ years, will open October 25. It was my honor to create the carved and etched crystal Donor Recognition Wall and Plaques that thank the Donors, employees, and community for their part in bringing this great project to completion.

The collage below gives you some highlights -- you may need to click on the image to enlarge it so you can read the captions more easily. Below that, I will tell you a couple of special stories about the project.

Sutter collage a 72dpi.tif

 As glad as the greater Santa Rosa community is to have a new, seismically safe, $284 million state-of-the-art hospital, many of my neighbors felt a deep personal connection to the beautiful old hospital, which was established in 1866.   

Old hospital to compass rose

 This is why we brought some of the key visual details from the old building (above, at far right) into the Donor Art for the new building. In fact, one of the iconic architectural details from the old hospital building became a powerful artistic focal point in the form of a compass rose, used on the main Donor Wall and on smaller Donor Plaques around the building.

Detail of compass rose at santa rosaThis detail says "YOU ARE HERE", and further points into the heart of the new building.The compass is a symbol long used in architecture to ask, "Where are you headed? What is your purpose and intention?" in a profound and metaphorical sense. 

The four directions on the compass are aligned with the true geography of the lobby, showing a heading pointing to the Russian River. This river -- long a symbol of life, community and trade -- empties into the vast and rich Pacific Ocean.  
There is one other very special detail of this installation I want to share with you. Carved in crystal and mounted in its own light box, it is both a tribute to the artist and a gift from his widow to divert and delight children (of all ages, as they say) entering the hospital.

Installing the Snoopy panel 2
Snoopy cartoon horizontal
The artist you will recognize at a glance. His widow, a philanthropist and community acitivist, is Jean L. Schulz. 

My deepest thanks to the team at Sutter Santa Rosa for allowing us to be part of this heartfelt project.

Signature

 

Donor Art That Delights a Diverse Audience

Amri-nationwise super closeup
How do you design a Donor Wall to please a hospital's sophisticated philanthropist-Donors that will also entertain and divert the children who come there for treatment?

Amri-nationwide-lead-panel

Hummingbird resizedOur answer was to incorporate 3-D layers of child-pleasing elements into a 26-foot-long museum-like diorama that we hand-carved and hand-etched into crystal.

The wall is filled with life-size fluttering butterflies, tiny creatures for kids to discover, and leaves whirled by the wind, all of which are illuminated with warm programmed LEDs that shift colors and patterns at the walking pace of passersby. These shifts make the leaves appear to dance and the butterflies fly across the full width of the wall.

Our dynamic “moving” wall at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus also serves as a wayfinding icon that keeps hundreds of passersby each hour moving in the correct circulation pattern on a magical "Forest Path" (an inlaid swirling floor design) toward their destinations and the elevators.

Amri-nationwide-collage-ralph-appelbaum-s

Brad Feinknopf for Nationwide Children's Hospital

Besides pleasing their big donors and delighting their young patients, Nationwide Children's asked us to create a piece that would integrate into their highly imaginative "Magic Forest" environment, created by renowned museum-exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum.

Playful, Applebaum-designed images from nature were printed on walls, constructed in 3-D, and carved from solid wood. An interactive play area features two-story trees and oversize whimsical animals carved by merry-go-round artisans.

We worked with the interior designers, hospital staff, and their very "hands-on" lead donor, Abigail Wexner, to continue their theme, philanthropic branding, WELCOME messaging, dimensionality, and warm glowing color palette in our Donor Wall.

Colored LEDs in shades of warm white, pale pink, and amber are mounted above and below the four layers of art and glass panels. When edge-lit, glass acts like a fiber optic, carrying the color through the 1/2" thick crystal panels and making the art elements “pop” like a 3-D hologram.

Amri-nationwide-whole-wall

Brad Feinknopf for Nationwide Children's Hospital

We achieved the dimensionality by creating a deep curved architectural surround to hold four layers of dynamic images, including dewdrops on the grasses, butterflies (Nationwide's new logo), chrysalises, snails, bees, flowers, and hummingbirds. In addition, on the top layer of the bevel-edged crystal, dedication text and donor names float in columns on every panel. All texts are carved in deep, V-cut monument-style letterforms.

Butterfly resizedMany weeks of careful lighting engineering and intricate programming with electronics engineer Tim Feldman were spent in the dark hours of the night to achieve the mood of the forest and the playful movements of each fluttering butterfly and swirling leaf in the glowing crystal.

It was very satisfying to create a light-filled installation that will warmly greet children and their anxious families and set a positive mood for the care to come.

We also loved continuing our working relationship of many years with this virtual city of caregivers (more than 5,000 on staff), having previously designed and fabricated the celebration wall (depicting the bright blue and gold collision of subatomic particles) in their Research Institute and the innovative hand-painted "circus horse" (below) for their Center for Child and Family Advocacy.

CCFA 1

A Time to Reflect and Renew

Next week on Monday, July 21 we begin our Studio’s annual summer closure, a time for us to rest, renew, refresh, and think deeply about the meaning of what we do. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day deadlines -- especially right now when we just wrapped up two big projects and completed a revamp of our website -- we have to stay focused on the details to get everything done. 

But when we have a chance to step back and breathe, we always remember the big picture. Let me tell you a story that speaks to this.

Watercolor of St. Paul’s Cathedral by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd

In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed most of the city and reduced its venerable Old St. Paul’s Cathedral to charred timber and rubble. The famous architect Sir Christopher Wren was hired to design a new church. After many plans and revisions, construction finally began in 1677. Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason, laid the first stone of the new cathedral.

Christopher Wren’s plans for the dome of St. Paul’s

One day Sir Christopher was surveying the progress the men were making. He stopped at one stonecutter and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m cutting blocks of stone,” the man said, a bit testily. “Each one the same as the next. And the next. And the next. Every bloody stone just exactly the same.”

Sir Christopher wisely moved on. He approached a second stonecutter and asked the man what he was doing. “Why, I’m earning a living to feed my family,” he replied, apparently puzzled that anyone, least of all the boss, should need to ask.

Then Sir Christopher spotted a third stonecutter, very intent on his work. “What are you doing, good sir?” asked the architect.

The man looked up at him. He was covered with stone dust and his hands were heavily callused. He looked tired, but he looked satisfied, too.

“I am building a monument to the glory of God,” he said.

Photos at left by Gabriel Harber

The joy and satisfaction we take in our work depends in large part on the context in which we hold that work. For me, designing and carving architectural art glass is not just about sandblasting tiny lines and curves into panels of crystal, or even about running a successful small business in a field I love.

It’s about creating timeless works of art that deeply honor the donors, institutions and staff members who are making vital and heartfelt contributions toward the betterment of our world. I myself feel honored to be a part of their endeavors.

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14071404/d87baa4f-4b62-4515-a121-a574c4e1ee1a.pngAnd that’s what I’ll be thinking about in the coming three weeks as I rest, relax and refresh my energies for an exciting autumn in the Studio. We'll be back at work on Monday, August 11, ready to hear about your new projects!


P.S. I hope you'll enjoy browsing through our new site to see what we've been up to! Besides being a wonderful catalogue of our past projects, the message that this new site expresses is our deep commitment to timeless architectural art. 
 
New home page of website

Unveiling Our Digital Donor Recognition

This is the time of year when we gear up for attending our first philanthropy conference of the year -- the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which is meeting in Atlanta next week.

Before each event like this we design and email a special invitation to our email list, which many of you might not have a chance to see. (If you'd like to be on our list, use the link at the right to email me.)

We put all of our design creativity into these pieces, so I have decided to start posting them here for your enjoyment.

This one also announces the unveiling at the AFP show of our new DIGITAL DONOR RECOGNITION offerings. We are very excited about the possiblities for marrying our permanent monument-style Donor Art with the amazing capability of digital technology. Read on!

CC- AFP unveiling digital - front for blog

CC- AFP unveiling digital - back for blog

 

Fundraising Wisdom From a Woman With Heart


6039 Miller-Dwan Solvey House Donor Wall

Pat burnsDuring an interview with our writer/researcher, a delightful client of ours, Pat Burns, president of the Miller-Dwan Foundation, had some compelling things to say about philanthropy and how she works with her Donors. Her insights are both wise and touching, and I want to share them with you.  (The photos accompanying this blog are from the Donor Art Glass projects we did for Pat at Solvey Hospice House and the Amberwing Center for children, teens, young adults and families struggling to cope with mental health and substance use. Both are located in Duluth, Minnesota.

What prompted you to choose an artist like Christina to do your Donor Recognition as opposed to one of the other Recognition companies?

There's a marked difference in the artistry. We felt the project demanded the ability to not just make an intellectual connection with people, it needed to make an emotional and spiritual connection. The engagement of donors in philanthropy is really one that comes from the heart, and unfortunately so many recognition systems come only from the head. They are only about, "Here's your name on the wall, isn't that wonderful, look at you, you did so much." They don't get what philanthropy is all about.

6a0133f2e5cfdd970b017eeb18b235970d-400wi[1]
Philanthropy is really an act of love.
Love needs to be communicated with an emotional and spiritual underpinning. It needs to be recognized in a way that is loving and beautiful and reflects the greater part of us. It needs to be inspirational, to come from a place that isn't simply intellectual. Philanthropy isn't just from the mind, it isn't just about show, it's about a grander purpose. Christina as an artist has a way of expressing that grander purpose that exists behind the philanthropy.

Some folks dismiss philanthropists as people who just want big tax write offs.

What we are truly talking about is philanthropy is in its purest form — and when I am working with people, I don't want it to be about the tax benefit. My experience is that people want to be part of something bigger. They really want a deep engagement in things that they believe in. A simple name list doesn't convey that level of engagement. It doesn't go to a deeper belief system.

If donors are just doing it for tax purposes, our job is to remind them of the grandness of the act so that the next time they step forward to do it, they get this inner stirring that says, "This is really bigger than deductions, really a part of something bigger and more important. I am about changing the world."

6a0133f2e5cfdd970b019102114bef970c-800wi[1]

The artistry in Christina's Donor Recognition elevates the philanthropic act and helps people really understand the grandness of it. That's where everybody else doing Recognition pales in comparison.

So there's a way in which you use Christina's recognition to teach people the real meaning of their gift. I bet they love that!

People are so moved, they cry in front of these Donor Walls. I'll tell you, after we did the first project with Christina's Donor Wall, it was a WHOLE lot easier to do the second one. People GET IT when you go out and talk with them about it -- especially the Donor Wall Christina did for Amberwing.

Campaign donor wall 1 at Amberwing

Our text was, "Love is a little word. People make it big." That's what it's about. They were very moved. And the design — it was a grand presentation of this universe that the Donors were having impact on. They become more important in the universe — and they ARE more important in the universe because they are doing something for hundreds of people who they don't really know, who they may never meet.

I think especially for the hospice project and the kids' mental health project we did, people were really engaged with their hearts in the giving. If I had done a dry and boring Donor Wall, they probably would have been fine with it because that's what they are used to seeing everywhere else. But because we did something different — something deeper — it elevated everything about the act of giving, it elevated everything the community had come together to do.

Photo 3
What's really cool is that the families who come in to use these facilities are inspired by these walls, especially the kids. Our kids' mental health project is using the Donor Walls now as part of their program. They have added a mindfulness piece to the program so that they go and stand before the Donor Wall with the universe and the dewdrops and the fish and the stars and everything.

Then they read through Maya Angelou's poem, they talk about the poem, they talk about having these people [the Donors] care so much about them that they created this facility where they [the kids] can come receive care.

Strong women
          and
               strong men
          protect the children
                     tend the ailing,
               care for the aged
and in fact,
     reassure
          the entire world. 
                                      —Maya Angelou

They look at the Donor names and the text and the facilitators use that to say to these children, "This is a part of healing because this community loves you." A bunch of names on the wall would never do that. I am deeply grateful that we have Christina's work here. To do anything less would be to diminish all the work that went into creating this facility.

*          *          *

Thank you, Pat. It was an honor to be a part of your loving and healing mission.

Christina blue sig

In the News!

I'm proud to say that our award-winning Donor Recognition Art appears this week on the front page of the McMorrow Healthcare Facilities Management Report.

McMorrow Healthcare Report Page 1

This image of the nurse and baby is taken from the luminous Heritage Wall
we created for St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, CO.

The complete text of the McMorrow article appears at the top of their Featured Products page. How nice to see Donor Recognition getting recognized!

Christina sig cropped

The Great Healers: Gratitude and Beauty

Nightingale Award

Recently I was asked to reflect on some fascinating questions: How does the Donor Recognition work we do for healthcare institutions directly contribute to their quality of care? Do our installations affect patient outcomes, and if so, how?

These questions were on the application for the Nightingale Product Design Awards, which honor excellence and innovation in healthcare products. They are sponsored by the Center for Health Design, the Healthcare Design Conference and Contract magazine.  

I'll share my answers with you in a moment, but  first I want to announce that we WON the Nightingale Silver Award for Architectural Products! It was a unique experience for me, "pitting" our luminous carved crystal against products like privacy curtains, nurses stations and antimicrobial drawer pulls. 

Christina in booth - Nightingale Award -003

One of the Nightingale judges examines our work at the Healthcare Design Conference last weekend.

I believe deeply that our Art Glass pieces are every bit as important in a hospital as these more obviously practical products. And that's what I explained to the Nightingale panel of architects, facility designers and interior designers who were the judges. 

Our Donor Recognition not only honors our clients’ most generous donors, it inspires new donations that become the capital and operating costs of the whole hospital. Heartfelt, top-quality Donor Recognition is pivotal in building and maintaining these institutions as a community asset.

University of Utah - Eccles for email insertion-1

Our Donor Wall at the Eccles Critical Care Pavilion in Salt Lake City reads, "We are all members of a single family, the family of humankind."

In addition, the exquisite imagery and inspiring words on our artwork promote confidence in patients and a high sense of self-worth in professional and support staff. Our luminous panels also transmit, celebrate and reaffirm a hospital’s mission and values. They help brand an institution -- a vital contribution in today’s competitive market.

Jewish Center Close Up

Donor Wall with olive leaves at San Francisco's Jewish Family and Children's Services

Evidence-Based Design has shown that fine art -- especially when it includes beautiful images from nature, as ours does -- contributes significantly to a patient’s recovery by measurably reducing stress and pain. Dr. Upali Nanda, one of the leading researchers in Evidence-based Design, writes, “Viewing artwork with appropriate nature content has been seen to reduce stress and pain perception, as measured by physiological outcomes such as blood pressure, heart-rate, and skin conductance, in addition to self-report measures.

Jain Malkin, the renowned healthcare interior designer, says, "Real art -- as opposed to decorative art -- touches the soul and reaches the viewer emotionally. It expresses energy, life force, and has deep spiritual meaning that can help the viewer transform pain and suffering to reach a higher state of consciousness."

Each of our pieces of chisel-cut and etched Art Glass is designed as a work of fine art that transmits inspiring messages of spirituality and gratitude. Gratitude has a documented impact on physical and emotional health.

Girl and butterfly crop

Detail of inspirational images and text on our Donor Wall at Children's Hospital Boston

The positive effect of integrating one-of-a-kind, inspirational fine artwork into hospital lobbies was testified to by keynote speaker Knut Bergsland in his keynote at the Healthcare Design Conference in 2005. In describing the impact of hospital lobbies on actual health outcomes and the development of goodwill in patients, families, visitors and staff entering a medical facility, he said, “People’s first impressions when they walk into a building have a disproportionate impact on the rest of their experience there."

Our products are also the vehicles for inspirational messages, welcoming patients and their families as they enter the hospital, and setting a positive and reassuring tone for their whole visit.

I am honored that the team of judges for the Nightingale Awards recognized the important and multifaceted role our Donor Recognition plays in the field of healthcare.

I want to close by saying that I love what I do! I love listening to clients tell me what they need, I love designing, I love honoring the generous souls who support healthcare institutions, and most of all I love that our Art Glass is helping patients heal and return home quickly to their families.

A heartfelt thank you to all our clients for giving us the opportunity to do this work,

Christina sig cropped

A Mission That Comes From the Heart

Amberwing detail
Shh! Sneak preview of the Amberwing Donor Wall

One of the best things about creating Donor Recognition Art is that we get to meet and support people who are doing amazing things in the world.

 Charly installing amberwingOur chief installer, Charly Rinn, and I just got back from installing a Donor Wall at Amberwing, a new mental health and chemical dependency treatment center for children and teens in a beautiful wooded area of Duluth, MN. It is scheduled to open this fall.

 Amberwing is a special project by the wonderful people at the Miller-Dwan Foundation of Duluth. It is rooted in the principles that mental illness is treatable, suicide is preventable, and lives can be transformed with the right help at the right time.

The facility will provide intensive treatment using evidence-based practices as well as innovative, holistic care. It will also provide support, education and assistance to parents, caregivers and the community.

There is a huge need for this kind of project. One of the teens quoted on the Miller-Dwan Foundation website put it eloquently:

"A lot of people don't know how to get the help they need — or where to turn for help. There's a world that kids experience that isn't just about 'cheering up.' There's a lot more behind depression. People need the help, but they're so ashamed of it."
                                            --Betsy Johnson, 17, Duluth

Amberwing dragonflyAn Amberwing is a tiny golden-winged dragonfly. As the foundation explains, “Among the most ancient of living creatures, the dragonfly connotes themes of transformation, emergence and flight. Much like a child, the Amberwing dragonfly experiences a metamorphosis as it matures, emerging from the water and taking flight. Its bright colors take time to develop, reflecting the idea that with maturity, our own true colors come forth.

“Even with two damaged wings, the Amberwing can fly. A visual symbol for strength, resilience and light, the Amberwing dragonfly helps us see through illusions and allow our own light to shine forth.”

6039 Miller-Dwan Solvey House Donor Wall
This is the second Donor Wall we have created for Miller-Dwan. The first was unveiled in 2007 at their Solvay Hospice House, the only residential hospice in Minnesota north of the Twin Cities.

I am proud and touched to be able to support Miller-Dwan in all of their heartfelt projects.

Christina sig cropped

The Best Way Forward Is Together

“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
NADEEM ASLAM

Two weeks ago I attended an event called LocalMade at Gensler's San Francisco headquarters. Its goal was to connect Bay Area commercial, residential and interior designers with Bay Area artisans of national repute.

Guild sign

Traditional wrought-iron guild sign
of a German glazier 

I was there showing our carved and etched Art Glass. Other artisans came to display their furniture, tile, rugs, lighting, metalwork, even concrete products. As I talked with my fellow attendees and the designers, it seemed like the event had a “guild” feel to it.

Medieval guilds were associations of trades- or craftsmen skilled in one particular field. LocalMade was a meeting of creative people from one particular geographical area. But what if we applied a broader interpretation to the term “guild” and the concept of “buy local”?

The essence of both these concepts is mutual interest, mutual benefit and support. Personally, I absolutely understand that nothing gets done unless people have a sense of good will and connection. What if we built a network of people based on those qualities?

Dancer

I’m not just talking about vendors and suppliers, I’m talking about people who need product, people who design product, people who are visionaries and who are stewarding Donors for new projects.  We are all connected — most especially by the sense of good will and appreciation we have for each other.

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment
of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."
REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING

This is why we are trying to pull together our whole network. It’s time for us to come together, help each other out, keep each other inspired. We share a common commitment to the highest quality work and an awareness of the many levels — including the spiritual level — on which we work.

Woman touching wall
So let’s really link together and keep abreast of what each other is doing. Here are some ways that we like:

  • Become a subscriber to our blog:
  • Enter your email address:

Please invite us — and each other —  to do the same. Please network and spread the good will. And please call if you have any great ideas about things we can do or create together!

As a close-knit tribe of superb creative people, we refer each other as the best person in the world to do glass in Chicago, carpeting in Alabama, metalwork in New York. We build a creative circle of people who truly care about their craft and about the world.

Gingko

I mentioned that the Gensler event had a “guild” feel to it. Instead of one particular trade or craft, though, the “guild” I envision is about a level of quality and awareness. It’s about helping each other with resources and networking and staying inspired.

We also need to help keep each other positive in these times. I am so aware that in this economic climate of caution, when one person says, “Uh-oh,” other people do the same thing, almost automatically. Pessimism is contagious — and it’s bad for everyone.

"Because of the interconnectedness of all minds, affirming a positive vision
may be about the most sophisticated action any one of us can take."

Futurist and visionary Willis Harman

What if we spread optimism as readily? I was talking to a local glass provider the other day who told me that his business is expanding. He’s getting more orders — and for exciting projects. Architects have started hiring back some of the folks they laid off. For us, we’re working on a project in the D.C. area, we just completed two projects in Chicago, and two new jobs came through just last week.

If we tell each other the good news, we’ll all start to feel more inspired and optimistic. We’ll get more confident, we’ll invest more in the future, and we won’t be constrained by the fear factor.

Hand with flower

Things  are moving, people have exciting products and projects to offer. Let’s support each other and let’s stay connected. Let’s be aware of who are fellow visionaries and who are the top quality people in the country. Let’s create and share the wealth, with heart and abundant good will.

6a0133f2e5cfdd970b0167673063d3970b-150wi[1]

Photos of our carved and etched crystal Recognition, from top:

Benefits of Becoming a Naming Donor

Marriott tribute
Tribute to Willard and Alice Marriott at the Marriott Library, University of Utah. This double-layer plaque includes formal photos of the couple, and a larger image showing the pair as young sweethearts.

I was working with the Donor Relations Officer of a new hospital the other day, helping her find the right words for a proposal she was going to make to a prospective Naming Donor. We have done a lot of Naming and Major Donor Tributes over the years, and I was happy to share with her the specific benefits such philanthropists enjoy when they are appropriately -- and generously -- honored.

Here's an easy bulleted list you can share with
your Donors or Development team. (If you'd like a nicely formatted version with photos -- suitable as a Donor handout -- email me at christina_amri@amristudio.com.)

  • Positions the Donor as a host and sponsor of the institution, welcoming patients or students, visitors, families, and staff when they walk in the door
  • Presents the Donor as a benefactor and humanitarian who truly cares about the well-being of the people who use the institution
  • Enables the Donor to share their wisdom and inspiration with the many thousands of visitors who will pause to enjoy the artwork and read the Donor’s words
  • Humanizes the philanthropist and sends a message that not only honors the Donor’s gift, it forges a long-term relationship from which Donor and institution will benefit
  • The Naming Donor Tribute we create will reflect the shared values of the institution and the Donor: It will be both visionary and enduring, a work of art created with exquisite attention to detail and hand-crafted from the highest quality materials. It will embody excellence, integrity, team-work, caring and respect.

 Here are several more examples of custom Naming Donor Tributes we have created to give you (and your Donors) an idea of what's possible.

Burney cropped

Tribute to a beloved doctor at Nebraska Medical Center, given by his wife. The decorative element on the right side is a detail from the wallpaper in Dr. Burney's bedroom when he was a child.
Batchelor collage.tif

This double-layer Tribute honors George Batchelor, Naming Donor for the Batchelor Children's Research Institute in Miami. The top layer of the Tribute, at left, shows the philanthropist today, at age 80.
The second layer, shown at right using different lighting, is a portrait of the aeronautical industry leader in his 20s as a young pilot.
Eccles cropped

Tribute to George and Dolores Eccles at the Eccles Critical Care Pavilion, University of Utah. Again, the double layer strategy allows us to show
the donor couple in formal portraits and in a fun-loving moment
from their early years together. This kind of Tribute is especially
appreciated in a hospital setting, where patients and families are
delightfully diverted by the sight of a joyful image.
Blocks - awards

Donor Awards in a building block motif with gold-filled Donor names and initials

If you would like us to send you a digital portfolio of our Donor Tributes, contact me at info@amristudio.com. We also have a pdf showing our Donor Awards if you're looking for something simpler.

Places the Donor’s name in one of the most prominent locations in the building

Positions the Donor as a host and sponsor of the institution, welcoming patients/students, visitors, families, and staff when they walk in the door

Presents the Donor as a benefactor and humanitarian who truly cares about the well-being of the people who use the institution

Enables the Donor to share their wisdom and inspiration with the many thousands of visitors who will pause to enjoy the artwork and read the Donor’s words

Humanizes the philanthropist and sends a message that not only honors the Donor’s gift, it forges a long-term relationship from which Donor and institution will benefit

The Naming Donor Tribute we create will reflect the shared values of the institution and the Donor: It will be both visionary and enduring, a work of art created with exquisite attention to detail and hand-crafted from the highest quality materials. It will embody excellence, integrity, team-work, caring and respect.

 

Christina sig cropped

 

From Grit to Gleam at Gensler

Grit to gleam cover and page one

This evening I have the honor of showing our work at Gensler's San Francisco headquarters. This is our second invitation to present there this year and I'm looking forward to chatting with tonight's guests. These will include Gensler's own design team as well as designers from HOK, SOM, and IDA. I'm bringing along several pieces of our carved and illuminated crystal, deep-carved marble, and breathtaking three-dimensional crystal sculptures.

Earlier in the year we were invited to make a presentation to Gensler's San Francisco designers showing them how luminous carved and etched glass can enhance the work they are doing for residential and commercial interiors.

We called the presentation "From Grit to Gleam," referring to our fabrication process, where we start by sandblasting half-inch-thick panels of crystal with industrial grit, then polish, inlay with gold, build beautiful hardwood bracketing, add (and sometimes program) LED lighting, and install these gleaming panels in hospitals, universities, corporations and homes around country.

To illustrate the journey each project entails, our designer Caroline created a photo essay in the form of a clever accordion-fold brochure, which I have put online for you to enjoy.

   

John ruskinThe brochure closes with one of my favorite quotes, from John Ruskin, Britain's leading writer on art, architecture and culture in the Victorian era. (Like most of the great men of the Victorian Age, he was vehemently anti-Victorian in his beliefs.)

Ruskin quote

 On those words of wisdom, I'm off to Gensler!

Christina sig cropped

 

Monument-Quality, But Easy to Update

Some of the first questions I am asked by administrators planning a new Donor Wall are: How will we update it? And how will we cost-effectively maintain it? More and more of our clients are also asking, How do we keep the beauty of a custom wall AND have flexibility and ease of updating?

We have developed several successful design strategies that enable very easy updates. Let me give you a quick rundown with examples. 

001Donor Walls from left: St. Mary’s Hospital, Reno; Center for Child and Family
Advocacy, Columbus, OH; Miami Project for the Cure of Paralysis

 We can create designs, like those above, consisting of separate crystal plaques and including many invitational BLANKS set in place during the Dedication. As more donors contribute, you ship us the plaques and the names, and we carve them and ship them back for easy mounting.

002Sunset Center for the Arts, Carmel, CA     M.I.N.D. Institute, U.C.- Davis

We can create a mural, like those above, leaving space on certain panels for your estimated number of names to come. We train your local staff to easily take down these carved crystal panel(s) and pack them into our return crate. (This usually takes less than two hours.) You put up a friendly “placeholder” sign we make for you that tells your public that you have more generous community support coming soon! (The panel is returned with the new names within about ten business days.) You can do this on a scheduled, once-a-year basis to help you with planning and to encourage your donors to get on board!

 003Olives and olive branches at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, San Francisco
.
We can create a two-layer system, like the one above, where the crystal front name panels are removed by your staff in under an hour and shipped to us for new names to be added. This can be done either once a year or more often. We design the wall so that even when the name panels are out being updated, the art glass layer looks beautiful! For example, in the close-up at right, above, when the Donor name panels are temporarily removed, the beautiful olive branches will remain in place.

004Crystal Donor Wall with removable, printed back-mounted name panels

We can create a two-layer system, like the Donor and Welcome Wall we did for Children’s Hospital Boston, above, where a second, back layer is mounted behind the front carved and etched ART GLASS mural. This second layer consists of fire-polished acrylic panels, digitally screen-printed with Donor names that look like they have been etched. You discard the old acrylic panels and get new panels each year. It will take your staff a few hours to slot the new panels into place.

 

005

Here is a diagram showing how we engineer walls such as this.

006 Donor Wall at Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, Monterey, California

5  You can choose a COMBINATION system, like the six-panel Donor Wall above, that includes both options #3 and #4.This means you can honor your TOP TIER Donors with their names carved in a permanent layer of crystal and recognize other categories of donors on printed, fire-polished acrylic panels that can be swapped out for inexpensive updating. (In the photo above, panel #2 has TOP TIER permanent carved names, while panels 3 through 6 feature a removable back layer of names on acrylic.)

Or, for simplicity’s sake, we can create engraved metal nameplates that clip easily in and out of our beautiful illuminated ART GLASS systems. (These nameplates cost less than carved glass to replace for updating.)

Finally, we can team with a company that provides easy magnetic (or other material) name strips and place them ALONGSIDE our exquisite carved and etched Art Glass panels. (Most of these companies are SIGN companies that have limited custom-art design capacity, and they do not create artisan-quality permanent, monument-style art, so our working in tandem with them is a good way to upgrade their standard offerings.)

We find that our clients usually have two choices: easy (but uninspired) donor signage, or, more artistic but not easily updateable plaques.

We do it differently: We offer both beauty and affordable ease!

Christina sig for BLOG

 

1.     We can create a two-layer system, as above, where the front name panels are easily removed by your staff in under an hour and shipped to us for new names to be added. This can be done either once a year or more often. We design the wall so that even when the name panels are out being updated, the art glass layer looks beautiful! For example, in the close-up at right, above, when the Donor name panels are temporarily removed, the beautiful olive branches remain in place.

 

Giving Thanks for 'Acts of Light'

Decorative Glass Magazine blog TOP

Love of glass and love of gratitude combined this week in a blog post by Patricia Linthicum in her "Designers on Design" column on the Decorative Glass Magazine website.

Patricia contacted me with the wonderful idea of doing a blog this week about giving thanks in glass, and asked me about our work creating luminous carved crystal Donor Walls and Tributes that express gratitude to an institution's generous benefactors.

FAITH carving from GinsburgI talked with her about my belief that each donor gift is an "act of light" intended to heal, inspire, illuminate, or educate, and that I see our illuminated crystal Donor Walls as acts of light that are given in return, "completing" the circle.

To me -- and to the men and women who work at Amri Studio -- each piece of carefully designed and carved glass we create is an act of devotion and service — an " act of light" that literally illuminates others' philanthropic and educational acts of light.

In her post, Patricia featured the stunning Naming Donor Tribute we created for Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute (pictured above, on her blog) and I explained the multi-level symbolism of the spiral-shaped "Donor Wall" we created. To enjoy Patricia's full post, click here.

Christina sig cropped