For 35 years,I have empowered youth and adults through creative collaboration. I practice Peace Building through Art, inspired by Nature. I have served mostly low-income youth in my native Pittsburgh, PA; Rappahannock County Virginia and northern California. As an an Arts Integration and Project Based Learning specialist, I have supported the gifts and creativity of children, their families and their schools, focusing on a love of learning and a collaborative spirit. I am the founder of Unity Through Creativity Foundation and the Singing Tree Mural Project, where the whole world is invited to make a painting.
I'm a certified K-12 Art and Social Studies Teacher with training in the Waldorf Curriculum, Bully Prevention, Conversational Intelligence, Peace Literacy and Outward Bound. My B.A. from Antioch College in history and education, and M.A. in art and education from Beacon College laid the groundwork for my innovative use of visual art and storytelling in consensus building, leadership training and conflict prevention. Clients have included NASA, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Interior, the U.S. Botanical Gardens, as well as public schools, hospitals and prisons around the United States. After 15 years in California, I now live in El Paso, Texas with my husband, Tom West. Two grown sons, Jeremy (and two grandsons) and Daniel Slack, live in El Paso and Austin, respectively.
My creativity takes the form of books, paintings, videos, training programs and inventing puppet shows with my grandchildren. My goal is to make peace big, loud and beautiful. One way is through The Singing Tree Mural Project™ which I founded in 1999. It is an invitation It is inspired by Kate Seredy’s book called The Singing Tree. She tells the story of her father, who was a soldier in World War I:
One night, my battalion crawled all night long on our bellies to escape the enemy. Everything had been destroyed by war. When the dawn came, one tree was still alive. Birds from hundreds of miles away, who aren’t normally together, filled the tree, singing a song that had never been heard before.
The earth is like the Singing Tree of the Solar System. All the things that divide us are not as important as the fact that there is no life around us, that we know of. We can chose to destroy each other and our Earth, or to create something beautiful, like the new song of the birds in the Singing Tree.
The seed for the Singing Tree Mural Project™ was planted in 1999 when founder Laurie Marshall heard 8 year-old Meredith Miller ask “What if the whole world made a painting together?” This vision of all of humanity working together resonated with a deep longing for peace in the world. The Singing Tree Mural Project demonstrates that collaboration is not only possible, but it produces extraordinary results.
The Singing Tree Mural Project is a leadership training program for youth and adults.