Re-entry

Hello from America. We’ve had eleven days to re-adjust, re-decorate and re-dedicate ourselves to our old lives.

Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.
Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.

On the flight home we shared our row with a friar or monk (whatever you call the dudes in the long brown robes with rope belts) a talker, originally from South Jersey. He’s stationed in Jericho now and was coming home for a holiday at the shore. I caught up on a few movies that I hadn’t seen while we were in Germany on the plane. When we landed in Philadelphia, a half hour late, we were told that the computers in customs were down. Two hours later we happily greeted Andreas’ sister who patiently waited three hours to pick us up.

My in-laws watched our house for us using our place as a base while they build a new home. So, not only was the house clean and ready to live in when we arrived, but we had groceries and good company.

The first things we noticed in Delaware were the sounds of insects at night and the blood thirsty mosquitoes. Even though it’s hot we open the windows to hear the insects through the night and the birds in the morning. In Bremerhaven we heard drunks, sirens and seagulls. I’ll miss the seagulls.

Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our local farmer's market isn't as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I'd like and be understood so I'm happy. Andreas doesn't want to go yet. He misses the German market.
Our local farmer’s market isn’t as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I’d like and be understood so I’m happy. Andreas doesn’t want to go yet. He misses the German market.

During our first couple of days back we manically cleaned, re-organized and unpacked. Andreas spent three days in the garden untangling and cutting back a years’ worth of overgrowth.

This area was overgrown, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
This area was a mini jungle, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He also spent some time editing and cleaning his office at work which hasn’t changed much in twenty years. Even though we felt tired and jet lagged, the excitement of being back and the desire to do the things we dreamed about in Germany overcame it.

No wheels for me this week. I hope it's fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
No wheels for me this week. I hope it’s fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My car wasn’t running well after sitting for a year, so I had it towed to the mechanics. Even though I’m home I haven’t had a car to run errands. That’s frustrating, but I think it helped me to stay focused on submitting a grant proposal before it’s deadline, and to unpack the studio prepare it for commissions and classes.

The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had our kitchen remodeled when we were overseas. It turned out great and it’s been fun to unpack and thin out our combined kitchen utensils and gadgets. It’s so much brighter than the old kitchen!

The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Oh, and I turned 50 a few days ago and had an awesome dinner out with a few friends. It was wonderful to understand the conversations at the table, to understand the waitress and to be able to read everything on the menu. Also, super great to see my friends. I kept staring at my friend Sherri. I couldn’t believe she was actually sitting there in person, not just a video on the phone!

This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?
This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?

I miss our apartment in Germany a little bit because it became so familiar. All in all, though I am very happy to be HOME!

 

Guest Artist in Bremerhaven Germany

Greeting the students from Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germay. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Greeting the students from Geschwister Scholl Schule at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

My Germany bucket/wish list for this sabbatical year is checked off. I created a new body of work, had an art exhibit, and last week I was given the opportunity to speak to five high school art classes. I was also invited to visit their school and interact with the students as they worked on their projects.

An Art classroom at the Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
An Art classroom at the Geschwister Scholl Schule. Main class, 5 hours of art during the week. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor's desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor’s desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Since I’m an art instructor in America and students in Germany study English, I thought it would be fun to visit a class to show them my artwork and have conversations in English. Through my show at Art Impressions Gallery I became friendly with the gallery owner, Fernando Valero who invited me to his garden birthday party. There I met local high school art teacher, Christiane Matthai who teaches at the Geschwister Scholl Schule in Bremerhaven. I told her I was interested in speaking to students and she not only brought her students to my exhibit but invited me to her classroom.

Art instructor Christiane Matthai offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthäi offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. It's all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. They’re all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Both experiences were wonderful. At the gallery I spoke about the theme for my show and then a little bit about each work individually. I shared my inspiration for the images and the watercolor and watercolor pencil techniques used in rendering them.

Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai

I showed a Power Point presentation that I prepared on the Ship last summer for the scientists about the other art mediums I work in, and about my past artistic and work experiences. I wanted the students to know that I haven’t made a career out of painting old women in diners, I also paint goats on skateboards, make stained glass windows from garbage and drive an Art Car.

Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero Delgado stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I really enjoyed each class. I was curious about the similarities and differences I would observe comparing German kids to American kids. No differences I could see or sense bar one and that was that the German students showed more independence. The teacher was recently sick and I asked her if she had to pay for her substitute like the teachers do in California. She said that that subs are not hired for high school classes. Her students acquired the key for the room, worked independently and cleaned up after themselves. That was shocking to me. I could see how it was possible though after spending time in her classroom. I observed the students set up their projects, work independently when their teacher wasn’t giving them one on one time, and clean up their area. They spoke to each other quietly and worked steadily throughout the long class period without need for redirection.

Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student's assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student’s assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The German student’s clothing, shoes, hair styles and demeanor were so similar to my students. I told them if I saw them in America I would never guess that they were from Germany unless they spoke to me. It’s interesting how access to the internet is changing design cross culturally. Also, their English vocabulary and pronunciation was very good; better than they think it is.

Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I feel very lucky to be given this experience and hope to work with Christiane again during our future visits.

A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!
A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!