Urgent Museum Notice

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Christina Knowles and Lori Brubaker Smith

Blog Category:  Behind the Scenes
A flock of sheep rest on a green hill by the sea. In the center, two adults and a lamb lie in a group. Flat rocks are visible through the grass. The sky has rolling clouds, and a breeze is suggested by the waves crashing on rocks in the sea, which stretches to the horizon.

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Christina Knowles, director of development, annual giving, and membership

Renewing: Time seems to be standing still, yet the view from my window tells me otherwise. Nature is generously reminding me that a new season is just ahead. The green nubs along my front walk have unfurled into buoyant Hostas, tempting the deer that call our street home. My favorite blended Camellia tree has almost run its cycle with chipmunks gathering up the pink petals and feasting on them like cotton candy.

A close-up photo of a vibrant pink flower. Wide, round petals flourish from the center in a radiating spiral; each petal is a deep magenta color at its base that gradually fades to pale pink at its edge. The petals also have delicate magenta veins that branch out from the center.
Camellia flower; Photo by Christina Knowles

Observing: The season unfolding is a daily meditation in seeing. Taking inspiration from Maria Sibylla Merian, I strive to hone the discipline of an observant eye and share her reverence for the magnificent architecture of the natural world. I strongly recommend her book Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis.

Reading: As someone who appreciates a hand-written letter, I enjoy absorbing history through the intimate lens of individuals who put pen to paper. Letters of the Century: America 1900–1999 includes letters from inspiring women like Elaine de Kooning, Amelia Earhart, and Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe writes to art critic and friend Henry McBride, “The daylight is coming Henry McBride—I am going up on the roof and watch it come—we do such things here without being thought crazy—it is nice—isn’t it.”

Lori Brubaker Smith, director of special events

Reflecting: For the first time in ages, I am in tune with spring. I recall being a young girl skipping home from school with the warm sun on my face, the birds chirping in the trees, the smell of the earth waking from winter. I was a child without a care in the world. Creation is speaking to me again. These memories remind me of a favorite poem by Emily Dickinson, “I have a Bird in spring.” I have rediscovered the beauty in her words.

Learning: Artist Rosa Bonheur’s powerful work is a favorite. Over the last weeks, I have read about her life. Like us, she was social distancing. At ten years old, she endured the cholera epidemic that swept through France—with no technology or modern conveniences. Surely, the struggle was great.

Longhaired sheep lounge on earthy grassland in front of a rocky shore and calm, pale blue sea. In the foreground, two large mature sheep with brown hair sit together with a  younger, white-haired sheep. Behind them, a group of four honey-colored sheep sit closer to the shore.
Rosa Bonheur, Sheep by the Sea, 1865; Oil on cradled panel, 12 3/4 x 18 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Creating: Recently, I decided to bring out favorite dishes made by my mom and grandmothers. From my mom’s recipe file, I made her refreshing mandarin salad with sesame dressing, and from Grandma Brubakers’s catalog, I cooked up her famous Pennsylvania Dutch spare ribs with sauerkraut.

Energizing: Having loaded up on enough comfort foods and television for a lifetime, I designed my own dance-based exercise routine. If anyone saw me they’d laugh, but I am having fun dancing to Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, and Heart, just to name a few! As David Bowie sings, “Let’s dance!”

Related Posts

  • Alma Woodsey Thomas: Hidden History

    Posted: Sep 21, 2020 in Behind the Scenes
    Through collaborating with a research team from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), NMWA gained vivid new insight into beloved works by Washington, D.C., artistic icon Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891–1978).
    Abstract painting composed of brightly colored, lozenge-shaped brushstrokes in vertical stripes of navy, purple, turquoise, yellow, orange and red.The overall effect is as if the painting was collaged out of torn pieces of paper, with the white of the canvas showing through.
    Blog Category:  Behind the Scenes
  • NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Christina Knowles and Lori Brubaker Smith

    Posted: May 11, 2020 in Behind the Scenes
    As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, we check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.
    A flock of sheep rest on a green hill by the sea. In the center, two adults and a lamb lie in a group. Flat rocks are visible through the grass. The sky has rolling clouds, and a breeze is suggested by the waves crashing on rocks in the sea, which stretches to the horizon.
    Blog Category:  Behind the Scenes
  • NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Carolyn Higgins and Fiona McNally

    Posted: Apr 22, 2020 in Behind the Scenes
    As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, we check in with staff for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.
    A still life painting featuring an asymmetrical arrangement of flowers; the central section features pink, orange, yellow, and blue flowers and is dramatically highlighted compared to the background and outer edge of arrangement.
    Blog Category:  Behind the Scenes