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.

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

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.



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.


Seeing Ourselves Through Others' Eyes

Flight of fancy article

We got a wonderful gift in the mail today -- the June issue of Healthcare Design magazine, with an article by Contributing Editor Richard Peck about our Donor Wall at the renowned Children's Hospital Boston!

Boston children's full wall
, as it is called, covers the latest in architecture and interior design for healthcare facilities, and we are honored to appear in their pages. Richard Peck did an excellent job of describing this complicated project and helping HCD's readers really "see" our dynamic crystal wall with its many graphic elements and technical wizardry, including computer-programmed and interactive lighting.

Child reaching We love doing Donor Recognition at children's hospitals because it gives us a chance to put JOY as well as GRATITUDE and an institution's values and identity into our Art Glass. We want the hospital's "little" patients to be entertained and diverted by the images they see -- in this case, kites seeming to change color and fly across the glass, butterflies, and a delightful child reaching for the sky.

As the head of the Studio's amazing team of artists and artisans, I was very pleased to see several of our folks mentioned by name in the article. It especially touched my heart that our late machinist, Fred Oberti, was singled out for his custom-designed steel pivots, which enable the glass panels to swing open so the list of donor names mounted behind them can be accessed for updates. Up to 1,000 names a year can be changed out this way. 

Children's Hospital Boston 9 DF

Art panels in pivot position (prior to installation of Donor name panels behind)

"This functionality was a big deal for us," said Janet Cady, President of Children’s Hospital Trust. "Being able to move names of donors in and out of the donor wall...was an integral benefit of the project."

Butterfly cropped

Moth in crysalis only For the full story, read Richard Peck's excellent article, entitled "Flight of Fancy," or visit YouTube for a great video that the Children's Hospital Boston development team made about this unique project!

Christina sig cropped


A Fruitful Year

It has been a fruitful year for us at Amri Studio, and we wanted to take a moment to share some of its visual highlights with you before we close for our annual holiday vacation, Dec. 24 through Jan. 3.

From St. Mary's Hospital Heritage Wall

These projects are so recent, they are not yet on our website.  In fact, one of them was just installed last week. Please read on for a sneak preview . . .

We created a 20-foot long Art Glass Mural and Donor Wall alongside a custom Donor Tribute dedicated to J Willard and Alice Marriott at the ultramodern Marriott Research Library at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


We had the honor of attending the opening of the new building, which was dedicated by former First Lady Laura Bush.

At Boston Children's Hospital we created an inspiring and playful Donor Wall, which included a custom-programmed Interactive Crystal Plaque placed at child height to entertain young patients.

A quiet seating area became a sacred space, the new Mathews Chapel at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago, when we enclosed the space and mounted softly lit and exquisitely carved Art Glass panels of blossoming almond trees.

Two dark 100-foot hallways were transformed by an Art Glass Donor Wall and separate Heritage Wall, tracing the stirring history and heartfelt values of St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Cascading roses and a rosary of pearls morph into a dotted line showing the route of a 19th century sea voyage, then into railroad tracks marking a journey crossing the Wild West, and are finally transformed into the beads on a teething ring held by a baby in a nurse's arms. These were the key elements in the largest installation we have ever done. 


Wishing you all the happiest and safest holiday season.  We are looking forward to some exciting projects in 2010!

Christina sig 

Projects from 2009

As we look back on the many projects we have been privileged to create this year, I think the words that best describe them are "acts of light." I also think this is the perfect way to describe what generous donors do when they make gifts to their favorite institutions: They are truly committing "acts of light" that affect everyone they touch....

light, my light
the world-filling light
the eye-kissing light
heart-sweetening light
. . .
the light is shattered 
into gold on every cloud
my darling
and it scatters gems
in profusion

Donor Tribute and Room Plaques, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences 


Personal Tribute to Heather Pick, Nationwide Children's Hospital


Art Glass, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York

Art Glass, Mathews Chapel at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago


Donor Wall and Interactive Art Glass, Children's Hospital Boston

Donor Wall and Donor Tribute, Marriott Library, University of Utah


Heritage Wall, St Mary's Hospital, Grand Junction, CO


Donor Wall, St Mary's Hospital, Grand Junction, CO

Christina sig