22 Oct

Healing Arts Exhibit

Last week I was invited to speak at the 11th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Healing Arts Talk

The exhibit started as an awareness campaign for the Breast Cancer Center and has now grown to encompass the use of the arts in many types of healing. The vast majority of artwork was created by patients at Walter Reed. Mine was there because the director loves my work and believes that it speaks to the same audience. I took four pieces from my Army Wife series. The two aprons on the plinth will stay for about a month — until mid November.


Healing Arts Exhibit

It was a fantastic experience. I spoke about my inspiration for the series and how it not only allows me catharsis but can also give expression to others who may not have found their words or images. Apparently it went over well. It’s hard to predict what kinds of connections an event like this will create, but I met the young curator who put together the show, many well heeled ladies from the Spouses Club, and one in particular who already gave me some tips for local galleries to shop another show to. Best of all was sharing my artwork with an audience who “got it.” Several wives came up and thanked me for expressing their story.

As an aside, there is nothing so humbling as spending a day at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. While my military experience has had it’s challenges, they are nothing compared to those faced by the service members themselves — especially those with visible and invisible injuries. I met several people whom I’m sure could tell fascinating stories. But the people watching is what amazes me every time I visit. Torsos outnumber limbs. I see different prostheses on every visit. Emerging from the elevator was a guy wearing standard leg prostheses and carrying blade prosthetics for running. Another man walking down the hall had a prosthetic hand with movable fingers. I think it was one of those that the wearer can control with their thoughts. There is always all manner of wheelchairs. Our favorite this time was the guy being pulled by his bulldog, but the dog was having a bit of a hard time because of the slippery floors. And then there’s the dogs. Many people have their own service dogs (like the wheelchair-pulling bully), but Walter Reed also has their own comfort dogs. Volunteers take these dogs around to patients or just hang around in the halls for anyone who needs a little doggy fix. Each dog has it’s own adorable harness/vest/pack thingie made from old military uniforms. They were made by a volunteer and are absolutely fantastic — some making great use of the uniform collars or pockets. One dog had her own custom ID tag. Too cute. My husband always stops to love on the dogs. It’s part of his own healing.

I am honored to have been asked to be a (very small) part of this important center for our military service members and their families.

31 Jul

Homefront & Downrange

Suck it Up

Suck it Up


If you missed my Army Wife exhibit last September in Charlottesville, VA, there’s a second chance to see it next summer at the Arts Council of Moore County near Ft Bragg, NC! To make the exhibit even more special, I’ll be teamed up with photographer Hunter Rudd and selected pieces from the Combat Paper Project. It’s going to be a wonderful community event. I’m very excited to be able to share my work again with a larger audience and I’m especially happy that the exhibit will bring together the military and civilian communities in the area.

At this point, the Arts Council need to do some fundraising — mostly to get the Combat Paper pieces (and hopefully a workshop!) on loan, but also to help facilitate getting me and my work to NC. They have come up with a wonderful sponsorship program. I am happy to send specifics to anyone who is interested — please comment or email me if you or someone you know would like to participate and I will email you the PDF that is also attached below plus the other information it references.

HOMEFRONT & DOWNRANGE:Witness the Art in Military Life

June 5-July 10, 2015 | Campbell House Galleries Art Exhibit Description:

Using art as a catalyst for conversation, HOMEFRONT & DOWNRANGE: Witness the Art in Military Life will be an art exhibit that will take a deep and personal look at several aspects of military life: An Army wife’s story through narrative textiles by Kristin La Flamme, a soldier’s story through photographs by Hunter Rudd, and the story of returning home from war through artwork selected from the Combat Papers Collection.

As our first art exhibit specifically focused on military life, the Arts Council of Moore County wishes to share the exhibit with the entire Sandhills community. We also hope the exhibit will honor our military’s sacrifices and service for the freedom we all enjoy.

In order for this exhibit to occur, we need financial support from sponsors. Homefront & Downrange Sponsor (short)

20 Jul


It’s been six years since we lived in Germany and high time we went back to visit. Finally living on the right coast, we decided to take advantage of the military’s Space Available option and see if we could fly to Germany on the cheap. We got super lucky and landed the last four seats on this no-name airline taking military families to their new overseas assignments.

Germany Trip 1


We had no specific plans in Germany aside from just spending time with friends and soaking up the atmosphere that we have been missing.

No trip is complete without castles though, so we checked that box. Row 1: Schloss Marksburg, The Rhein River from Marksburg, Idstein. Row 2: Wiesbaden Casino, Burg Hohenzollern, Knights in Hohenzollern. Row 3: Heidelberger Schloss, Heidelberg’s Powder Tower, Bad Dürkheim area from Wachtenburg.

Germany Trip Castles



Other architecture is pretty awesome too. I don;t think I’ll ever tire of pretty little German towns. I love the way the Europeans combine ancient and modern as well. Row 1: Idstein, Limburg, a metal covered door in Schloss Marksburg. Wiesbaden, a house in Waldenbuch with decorative slate shingles, The Ritter Sport chocolate factory in Waldenbuch. Row 3: The Ritter Sport museum and shop, the corner in Heidelberg that used to house the gallery where I had my first solo show but is now an apartment, Mannheim market.

Germany Trip Architecture



I didn’t realize how much I missed the food until we returned to Germany. There are certain things I make at home, but so many others I had forgotten about, or that just aren’t the same out of context. Row 1: Spaghetti Eis (ice cream extruded to look like Spaghetti and topped with strawberry sauce), chocolate and nut ice creams presented to look like a baked potato, Döner Kebap (Turkish fast food). Row 2: Curry Wurst (fest food!), Frühstück (breakfast with eggs, cold cuts, cheese breads, yogurt, coffee, the works!), and Flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza-like tart topped with creme fraische, cheese, bacon and onions). Yeah, we gorged on the Flammkuchen. Row 3: Dampfknödel (steamed bun dipped in vanilla sauce), an assortment of cakes (to be enjoyed with coffee and friends at about 4:00), home made jams and jellies from friends because everyone knows how to make them.

Germany Trip Food



Even with ice cream and Flammkuchen, the kids needed more than castles and charming architecture to keep them happy. So, we entertained ourselves the way locals do. Row 1: Ge-Force roller coaster at Holiday Park, Kettenkarousel at Holiday Park, Fourth of July fireworks at the German American Fest in Wiesbaden. Row 2: Chiseling for fossils at a quarry near Stuttgart, planes, trains and automobiles (with slides) at the Technic Museum in Speyer, rock climbing at an indoor playground in Stuttgart. Row 3: amusement rides at the fair in Speyer, Sommerrödelbahn in the Odenwald (luge on a track). 

Germany Trip Entertainment copy


We also thoroughly enjoyed watching World Cup Fussball. We went with friends to a biergarten in Wiesbaden for the Germany France game, to the local Schützenhaus (gun club) for the Germany Brazil smack down, and with another group of friends to a biergarten in Mannheim for the finale against Argentina. It was so much fun to genuinely join in the camaraderie, national pride, and simple excitement. It reminded us of our fantastic summer living in Germany when they hosted World Cup in 2006, but even better because Germany won for the first time in 24 years (and the first time as a united country). Here’s a bunch of the kids all dressed up at the fest after watching the Germany France game.Germany Trip 2


Another thing we remember fondly was the small town fests. Germans can celebrate anything. Apparently there’s even a Cesarean fest in the town where the first one (in modern times) was performed. We went to the Radish fest in Glasshütte with our Stuttgart-based friends.

Germany Trip 14


The big draw was the old timer tractors brought out by the local tractor club, called Schlepper Freunde. Two were Porsches and one was a Mercedes.

Germany Trip 3

We took silly selfies as friends often do.


Germany Trip 4

And then my family took more silly photos when I left my phone unattended. They look like they should be on an album cover, don’t they?

This guy regaled us with hours of polka. Very fest-like. Though he stuck to the traditional and didn’t play Country Roads…

Germany Trip 18


Yes, those are ketchup and mustard udders.

Germany Trip 17


Did I mention that one set of friends lives just above the Ritter Sport chocolate factory? The air even smells like chocolate! The factory has a great little museum and shop. We came home with the 2 kilo surprise bag of assorted goodies.

Germany Trip 16


The Germans are nothing if not efficient and organized. Even the trees are numbered (well, not all of them, but the ones that are regularly cared for).

Germany Trip 15


Other trees are cut and stacked for firewood. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly stacked row of German firewood.

Germany Trip 13


And then there’s the truly unexplainable. The town of Bad Dürkheim has a mineral spring where they pump the salty water to the top of a giant loofa wall so that people may enjoy the curative powers of salty air as the wind blows through the wall.

Germany Trip 10


Heidelberg University has the Studenten Karzer where unruly students were incarcerated for infractions such as shouting too loudly at night, or using the familiar instead of formal salutation with a policeman. Students memorialized their time in the prison by painting graffiti on the walls.

Germany Trip 12



And this is the Mephistophemobil at the Technic Museum in Speyer. It’s a wagon adorned with all kinds of things to make a racket as it rolls along. Notice the garden gnome and red antlered antelope.

Germany Trip 11


We had a fantastic time revisiting old stomping grounds as well as exploring new ones. Here we are in the family tree-painted room of hohenzollern castle.

Germany Trip 5


And here I am with the wonderful ladies who I breakfasted and sewed with every other Friday when we lived in Heidelberg.

Germany Trip 6



Two of our neighbors from Heidelberg who now live in Switzerland made the drive up to spend a day with us!

Germany Trip 7


And we spent a super four days with our exchange student and her family (including Oma and the boyfriends).

Germany Trip 8



Sadly, after two and a half weeks, we had to go home. All the flights back to Baltimore on the comfy planes were full, so we hopped on a cargo plane to Dover. It was loud and lacked amenities, but allowed for great legroom and a surprisingly generous box lunch. It was all part of the grand adventure and the kids actually enjoyed it as it’s not every day you get to fly in one of these behemoths with containers and a HMMV in the center aisle!

Germany Trip plane


Tschüss Deutschland, as ever, it was great.

27 May

A Quilted Saga

Friends following me on Facebook and Instagram have seen these photos, but not a lot of the story behind them (though I did blog a bit here — and it’s worthwhile to scroll to the very first post at the bottom about the genesis of the quilt). Here are the gory details!

In late 2002 I started working on a quilt somewhat in response to the 9/11 attacks. It was to be a king sized Service Star and I pieced and appliquéd most of it while my husband was deployed on and off for the next year+. I hand quilted most of it, but then life got in the way and I set it aside.

Service Flag

Trapunto, Broderie Perse, and embroidery, oh my!

Service Flag

In 2004 we moved and I joined a group of ladies that met every other Friday to have breakfast together and work on hand stitching projects. I picked up the quilt again and came close to finishing it before moved again. By the time I unpacked it during hubby’s fourth Iraq deployment, I had moved on stylistically.

To go with the sheers

Having embarked on The Army Wife series at this point, I considered how I could bring this into the fold. Inspired by so much subversive stitch and gallery-worthy embroidery, I decided to add embroidered bumper sticker platitudes and a shadowy Uncle Sam.

Service Star WIP (detail)

It worked in my mind, but after many, many, hours into it, I didn’t feel like it was coming together. I’m loathe to just throw the whole quilt away given the hours I have invested in it. But I felt (and still feel) like it should have just had the shadow figure and none of the distracting embroidered flags and sayings. However, I can’t really remove the embroidery because of all the guide lines below it. I tried some blending stitches, and set the quilt aside for another move and another year.


I considered stretching the whole thing like a canvas and painting over it, but I realized I would hardly be able to get it out of the house, let alone into a vehicle to take to a gallery or anyplace! Finally, last week I decided that I was over this quilt. It wasn’t doing anything but hanging over my head. It was too late to call it an heirloom and put on a bed somewhere, and with all the “edgy” embroidery, it just looked overworked and tortured. I thought practical thoughts about what sells and where my work might fit in to that sphere. I love my “Suck It Up and Drive On” quilt and others seem to enjoy it too. It also fits in thematically with so much inspirational wall decor on Pinterest.


So I decided to take drastic measures and I not only painted my quilt, but I cut it up into sizes I could mount on standard canvases. I plan to stitch and paint some more, adding some nice bold stars on some and the Suck It Up phrase on others. They will make what a friend calls “edgy Americana” wall decor. And I will have one monkey off my back.

Interestingly, I just read an article on Ragged Cloth Cafe this morning about creativity and fugitive artwork.

07 Sep

The Army Wife at McGuffey Art Center

Last night was the opening reception for my show at McGuffey Art Center. Also at the Art Center is the Charlottesville Watercolor Guild’s annual show, so there was a sizable turnout for the evening. I don’t think the evening could have gone any better. Well, it would have been fantastic to sell a piece, but I wasn’t really expecting to anyway. I did sell two “catalogs” and made a connection which could open a door or two, so I consider that a success!

The Other Woman

The Other Woman

Absence II, Unaccompanied, and Medallion for an Army Family

Absence II, Unaccompanied, and Medallion for an Army Family

Be Strong Always, Unraveling, Medallion, and Welcome Home

Be Strong Always, Unraveling, Medallion, and Welcome Home

Suck it Up, Connections, and Be Strong Always

Suck it Up, Connections, and Be Strong Always

Be Strong Always, Torn from the Roots, and Non-Entity

Be Strong Always, Torn from the Roots, and Non-Entity

These two are fairly recent pieces which I don’t think I’ve really shown. Welcome Home references the home made banners families tie to balconies and fences on post when soldiers return from deployments, and the cheap and cheerful dresses wives wear to the reunion.

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Suck it Up and Drive on is a common saying in the military. Essentially it means stop whining because there’s nothing that’s going to change what you have to endure. It also dovetails nicely with the currently popular Keep Calm and Carry On posters from the UK which were originally meant to encourage a stiff upper lip in WWII in case of a German invasion. I love this quilt.

Suck it Up

Suck it Up

20 Aug

The Army Wife at McGuffey Art Center

This is it — the big one! An entire gallery filled with my Army Wife series. I have been imagining this show for probably four years now. I am both nervous and excited to invite everyone who can to come see the show during the month of September. Opening night is First Friday, the 6th, which should be great fun as all of McGuffey celebrates the new art hung in all it’s spaces each month. I’m also giving an artist’s talk on Sunday the 15th in which I hope to offer some insights to my processes and inspirations. Come see the show!

MAC postcard email

11 Feb

Apron Progress

Welcome Home
I wasn’t sure if this one was done, but I think it nearly is. Yay! Visible progress!

Work in Progress
This one’s got a concept in my head, but has been a tough one to get out visually. I wasn’t sure if I liked where it was going or not, but got a little encouragement this weekend from my most excellent sounding board, Deborah. I’m going to keep moving forward.

Work in Progress
Though not an apron an apron, I’m slowly making progress on this. It is of the lowest priority, so I only work on it here and there. It’s far too big to take with me anywhere, so that slows it down too. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel though.

My next task is to actually write a proposal to the McGuffey (and maybe another venue) to show The Army Wife in the main gallery. I can (and should) do that.

21 Jul

Ain’t Technology Grand

Honolulu Harbor near Niko's

We’ve been in Charlottesville three weeks and the new house frenzy is settling down. I’m always torn between taking my time and finding the deals on Craig’s List or in second hand stores, or just diving in and buying new. I have a tendency to choose the latter, especially as it starts with sheets and towels, which you want new, and then the shopping snowballs from there. Anyway, we’ve got a fancy new Energy Star rated washer and dryer, a new mattress which means the guest room has been upgraded from futon to real bed, and a lawn mower since we have a big lawn now and no gardner service.

But that’s not what I set out to write about. I’m not sure I had mentioned that all my blogging during the trip, both here and a few posts on the Twelve by Twelve blog, were done on my phone. I had originally intended on incorporating some time on hubby’s laptop, particularly for downloading photos from my good phone and uploading them to Flickr, but the laptop died early on and spent most of the trip with the geniuses at the Albuquerque Apple store. I took that as part of the challenge, and even when offered a “real computer” at the cousin’s house in Missouri, I checked email, but refused to blog on principle.

My experience? Not bad. In fact, it took me about three days after my computer was up and running here to stop going to the phone when I wanted to check email or catch up on Facebook. One fingered typing and reading glasses to see the small pics and type notwithstanding, I got in the habit of seeing my phone as my new computer.

I used the WordPress app for my blog and the Blogger app for contributing to Twelve by Twelve. Neither app has all the features of the online programs, but they are enough to get the job done. WordPress didn’t like to update a post once done, so I’d have to either copy and paste what I had written into a new post to replace the old one, or just live with the inevitable typo or three. I made sure that I took at least one photo with my phone everywhere we went. I even played around with Instagram and it’s filters — more for the nostalgic road-trip aesthetic than for any preference for photo sharing or picture quality. Including photos from my iPhoto library was easy enough. Facebook on the phone wasn’t wild about my links from my blog, so even though I had different photos on each post, when I posted an update on Facebook, all it would show in the thumbnail was part of my blog header. Not too enticing to potential viewers, but not worth worrying about.

In addition to using the phone as a phone, and for blogging and Facebook updates (which I have to thank everyone for following — it was great fun having so many friends and family virtually in the car with us), we also used the maps app for directions and a few apps for gas food and lodging. GasBuddy was a good one. It would find us the best price on gas nearby. Foursquare was another oft-used app. I wasn’t very good at it, but hubby was a power-user, finding recommended food and hotels within moments of arriving anywhere. iExit was supposed to tell us what was at the next exit(s), but it seemed to stick to the expected chains and truck stops and didn’t give us any independent suggestions like Foursquare did. We had a few apps from the hotel chains, but again, we tended to use Foursquare so we could compare all the available ones at one time.

So, I learned that I can blog from my phone and take advantage of social media to stay connected while on the road. We could take photos and share them, or not. We could find our way and find places to eat and spend the night. It was a far cry from phoning in reservations ahead of time, or taking our chances on something based on it’s proximity alone. And there was no awkward map folding or plotting of routes with different colored highlighters (though that stuff is half the fun of a road trip). It worked.

BTW, the photo above is part of Honolulu Harbor. There’s a big container ship in the background which could easily have been the one to carry hubby’s car in the enclosed area, and a container or two with all of our crates of belongings in the center area not yet fully loaded. Coming here we realized that all our moves have been either coming or going overseas and we’ve always been packed into big wooden crates — never directly into the big moving truck.