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The Artists' Collective Update July 2012
Friendship Shelter's Artists' Collective is a group of artists, who have all had a common experience of homelessness and have benefitted from Friendship Shelter programs. The group meets regularly to share ideas and support one another in their artistic endeavors. "The Collective" challenges its audience to confront and accept the full humanity of each individual who is homeless. The group is led by Karen Redding, PhD, LCSW, artist.
Check out the Artists' Collective facebook page here.
(pictured left) Terrell Washington Anansi's "Considered"
Resonating on this piece, Terrell shares that he is "loving this journey of honoring women... in memory of my mother."
Below is Darryl Gober's latest piece, almost complete. See the finished piece by following "The Artists' Collective" facebook page here.
(pictured left) Karen Redding's photography from her travels to Myanmar (formerly Burma). "With the sanctions there lessening, the spirit of the place is breaking OPEN. The military presence is still strong, but change is IN THE AIR. People are excited and welcoming to see American (and British) tourists.
Profiles in Friendship: Karen K. Redding Interview 2010
I first met Karen when she had so graciously agreed to serve as Clinical Supervisor for our Interns with USC’s Master level Social Work program,” says Mark Miller FSI Associate Executive and Director of Programs. “Karen, along with her colleague, Kay Ostensen, Ph.D., has played a crucial role in elevating the quality and effectiveness of the support we offer our residents. In that first meeting, it was easy to see that she had much more to offer than her clinical credentials. Her presence and her wisdom (beyond intellect) were immediately apparent. To ‘hang’ in any experience with Karen is to leave no stone unturned, no expression wasted. Her whole being is about discovering the truth and heart of the matter.
“Karen shares much of her work and her self with us, including leading an exploratory group with fellow artists who are graduates or residents of Friendship Shelter. I am such a fan of her process, her ability to meld many disciplines into one beautiful image that captures the dignity of humanity. This is a core value in our organization, and though cliché, is a picture truly worth a thousand words.”
Mark Miller: You’ve documented your encounters through photographs of people around the world. What makes you decide what to photograph and what not to photograph?
Karen Redding: My life experiences as a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst inspire my relationship to my subject and the way I interpret what I see. For example, when I go to the tribal villages, I don’t immediately start clicking my camera. I try to be there, to “show up” and be present in the setting and the cultural circumstances. I take some time to walk around the village; to take notice of what the people are doing; what they are wearing; how they are preparing food; and how they seem to be responding to “outsiders” being there. I may use non-verbal gestures and expressions to engage in playful ways.
For the most part, the indigenous people tend to see that I am “with them,” that I am curious and interested. I know that my photography resonates when I can feel rapport.
MM: It’s extraordinary that you’re able to take these photographs on site and to share them with the world. But I must ask you, what is it like to be a visitor in parts of the world that know such hardship?
KR: So often, many of us feel a sense of guilt, sadness, helplessness and powerlessness when we bear witness to scarcities and deprivations. Perhaps, in Judith Nelson’s words, finding a way to really “be there” and give back takes us out of a “shared trauma” and into a “shared compassion.” It becomes a challenge to transform our “global grief” into global reorganization, leading us to the acquisition of a universal compassion, by seeing others more deeply and learning their stories.
MM: What do you hope to accomplish through your photography?
KR: I hope to bridge perceived differences across our human landscape of diversity by communicating a message that we are essentially one people with many variations.
MM: What does that bridge mean to the people who you photograph?
KR: We stayed with the Waghi Tribe in Papua New Guinea. We were taken by the tribe’s hospitality and warmth. Later, when I sent a donation from the proceeds of the sale of my photographs to this tribe, I received a letter from their local tourism guide, Lawrence Walep. In it he said: “It is a great surprise for all of us to see that our name and village was published in your local newspaper and photography show. We do not know how much we can thank you for remembering us in trying to connect us with the rest of the world. We believe in our hearts that your hope has become our hope as well to facilitate a way of seeing that bridges differences, so that each one of us can feel our own ‘tribal’ roots in our diverse and shared humanity.”
This trip became a model for me in making art with photography, while also creating an exchange to give back to the local people.
MM: Thank you for sharing your work and your art with us, Karen.
KR: You’re welcome. And thank you for the work you do at the Friendship Shelter.
Karen K Redding, LCSW, Ph.D., is a clinical social worker, psychoanalyst and artist with a private practice in Laguna Beach, CA. Dr. Redding provides clinical supervision to Friendship Shelter case management interns who are completing their master’s program in social work at USC, as well as leading a series of groups for artists who have experienced homelessness. Selected pieces from Her “Travels Through Humanity” series of photographs are currently on display at Friendship Shelter and may be purchased, with 20% of the proceeds going to benefit residents of Friendship Shelter’s Self Sufficiency program serving homeless adults.
You can visit more of Karen’s work at: www.karenkredding.com
Friendship Shelter graduates celebrate their artistic talents December 2010
Click here to read more about the "Artists' Collective" in the Laguna Beach Independent