Thursday, December 28, 2017

What We Learned in 2017

The transition from one year to the next is an opportunity to look to the future, to set new goals and make resolutions for what we hope to accomplish or change in the New Year. It is also a time when we can reflect on the past year and ponder the lessons we learned. Here are three OMOD speakers on what they learned in 2017:

Kamand Alaghehband

I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have. There were so many disasters this year like Hurricane Harvey and people lost everything they had. I volunteered to help people in the shelter, then I realized how blessed I am with everything I have in my life. This was the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this year. Also, helping other people made me feel better about myself. It made me feel I am a better me to be able to help other people in need.

Houstonians evacuating via boats or wading through waist-high water

Nicole Cortichiato

You can find forks in the road everywhere— practically everywhere you look—your food, where you go, how you react. Last night I found a fork in the road of my scalp. I ended up parting my own seas—taking the road less traveled. I guess that's just the artist in me. Forks—such a scary utensil.

Eric Clow

I don’t know if this has more to do with 2017 or turning 30, but this year I grappled considerably with what it means to be an artist – at least on a personal level – and even more with what it means to be an artist with a disability that renders the eight-hour work day impossible. Lessons I learned through this struggle include seeing my art for the work that it is, trusting in the creative process and ignoring my inner critic long enough to complete a rough draft, accepting that some pieces may take months, even years, to finish, recognizing when I use my disability as a rationalization to avoid work and instead modifying each task so I can work without damaging my muscles, and going to work whether or not I feel inspired. Though much of the art may be mediocre, I continue with the hope a few gems will emerge; but if that never happens, I can still find satisfaction knowing I did (and do) what I love. More importantly, 2017 also delivered me an adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Mac the Boo Bear who has brought immeasurable joy, love, and laughter into my life.

Mac accompanies me on a patient lift ride to my wheelchair.

What did you learn in 2017? Share with us in the comments!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tour of the Holiday Show 2017

Have you been over to VSA Texas lately? Our boring old classroom has been transformed into a Unique Boutique for our 9th annual Holiday Art and Gift Show. And it looks great!

You need to come by in person to really see the details and quality in the artwork and handmade items we have for sale. But for now, here is a video tour of some highlights of the show:

The artwork in this room was created by 45 artists with disabilities from the state of Texas. So far we have sold about $3,000 worth of art and we wrote checks to 13 artists to help them support their goals as working artists. But we want to make more sales and write more checks. So please come by and support Texas artists, support the good work of VSA Texas, and support buying handmade for the holidays!

We are hosting an artist reception this Saturday, December 16th from 1-4 pm. Please come out and meet the artists, hear live music, and nibble on treats. Or visit us any day Monday-Saturday 10-4 all the way up to December 23rd. We are in Room 101 in the AGE of Central Texas Building and can be easily found if you direct yourself to 3707 Home Lane, Austin, TX 78705 and look for the signs.

Happy Holidays from the VSA Texas family!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ten Thousand Villages Holiday Benefit

I believe it’s been over 12 years since I got a notification from the volunteer coordinator of SXSW Film Festival calling for volunteers for Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, a fair trade retail nonprofit store. I looked up their website and read a bit about their history and what Fair Trade means.

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers.
“It highlights the need for change in the rules and practice of conventional trade and shows how a successful business can also put people first. It is a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty, climate change and economic crisis.” 
—World Fair Trade Organization

I was so impressed with their mission, I signed up and got trained as a volunteer and have been volunteering with this organization ever since. I have gotten to meet some of the artisans on their U.S. tours and have learned so much about their families and villages and their workers. There are actually over 160 Ten Thousand Villages in the U.S. and over 40 in Canada, all based on the same model of fair trade. I have met wonderful folks from Niger and Pakistan.

In addition to their mission, Ten Thousand Villages of Austin also supports local nonprofits throughout the year by designating a specific benefit night where 10-15% of sales are donated to a specific nonprofit. VSA Texas has participated in this event for over 5 years. Gradually we have developed a loyal following of those who not only love VSA Texas and our mission but love the mission of Ten Thousand Villages as well.

This year’s VSA Texas benefit night will be at the fairly new location of Ten Thousand Villages on 4803 Burnet Road, with plenty of accessible parking in front and more parking behind the building. Come shop with us, get to know VSA Texas a little better as well as the wonderful folks at Ten Thousand Villages. Remember to come in the store between 5:00-8:00 PM on Monday, December 11th, and I guarantee you will find that special, one-of-a-kind ornament or gift, complete with the story behind each item you purchase. Over 38 developing countries are represented in the store.

Also, as a special treat, Rick Perkins & Friends will be there to perform original tunes and share stories with his songwriter pals.

Rick Perkins singing and playing acoustic guitar at Roots

Please visit Ten Thousand Villages YouTube Channel to see what all they offer. And visit our VSA Texas YouTube Channel to see what we are about. And come join us Monday, December 11th, from 5:00-8:00 PM for a blending of two wonderful missions aimed at giving artists our support to encourage growth and sustainability for themselves and their families.