Category Archives: special events

first interior photo as canvas for installation

Beauty Revisted at CFEVA

Scene from Country Home is inspired by my desire to bring authentic places into my work.  Up until now, I have been using images from the Gender Portraiture Project, while I imagine the places and settings where the people can be.  This base image is taken from Wyck Historic House Museum in the Germantown Historic district of Philadelphia.  I am experimenting with combining photographic images taken by me from real places with portraits and found images.  I find images from online copyright free books and journals and by photographing artifacts in my environment.

You can visit the Gallery at Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 237 S. 18th Street, The Barclay, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA – now through August 19th, 2011 to see this work in the flesh!

perks for supporting New Woman project

New work inspired by Ringling Circus Museum, Cà d’Zan Mansion and the cultural context of early-American women circus performers.

Please come back soon as the project is currently being mounted on the United States Artists Website.

Here are perks for making donations to my project:


Two of the images printed on Vigor and Pastime depict an original advertisement for electric sewing machines and the other two show women working at home in their tenement apartments sewing Campbell’s Soup Kid doll clothes.
What would Tiffany think? …and what is the definition of craft today? My lamps resemble a Tiffany lamp, but are made from aluminum and plastic – not the precious materials Tiffany worked with. However, they are inspired by gardens and nature. This prototype was developed using the plasma cutter and Trotec laser cutter.  The shades will also be created in the spirit of Tiffany as he arranged flowers and drew them onto patterns to create stained glass designs. I will arrange flowers into the form of the pattern cut-out, photograph and print them onto plastic transparency. The same shade material shown here.

please support my project at NextFab Studio!!

Today I am mounting a project for support on the United States Artists website.  This is very exciting as the money will pay for a residency at Ringling Circus Museum and Ca d’Zan Mansion.  Please keep in touch as my story unravels.

Also – Please please support my project at NextFab!!  Forward the link to all your friends!!  It is free and easy – simply go to the NextFab Award One website and click on

Another way to spread the word is to click the “like” button on the Award One page and on my website.

Thank you for all your support and reassurance!!

EMMA’s Parlour

A place where material culture is re-examined and gender roles are fluid. Installation art by Laureen Griffin and Victorian style miniature theatre by Martina Plag and Leah Walton engage the spirit of nostalgia during a tumultuous time when anarchy, labor struggle, and womenʼs sexual liberation bear equal weight.

From the Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2009 at University City Arts League. Funding made possible in part by a grant from the Puffin Foundation and a house party put on by our dear friend Mary Kalyna.

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Pittsgurgh Tribune-Review 2010

Philadelphia artists’ works create compelling show

By Kurt Shaw
Sunday, October 10, 2010

It may be the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, but seven artists from Philadelphia have taken over the first-floor galleries of the center to display their art. Organized by the center’s Adam Welch, their exhibit “Context Ingeminate” is the result of an ongoing annual trading of spaces between the Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia.
The exhibit features the work of the Philadelphia group’s Career Development Program Fellows: Ana B. Hernandez, Bohyun Yoon, Leslie Atik, Tim Portlock, Maria Anasazi, Laureen Griffin and Allison Kaufman.

Their work represents a small cross-section of the 21 artists awarded a career development fellowship, a two-year program that gives participating artists an opportunity to experience a full exhibition schedule, receive career counseling and mentorship, teach in the community and participate in numerous professional development opportunities.

“This exhibition exchange is part of an ongoing collaboration by CFEVA and PF/PCA created in order to strengthen the artistic dialogue between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” Welch says. The title of the show, “Context Ingeminate,” attempts to “marry the passive and the active, the viewer and the creator,” Welch says, which it does flawlessly thanks to engaging works like Yoon’s “Structure of Shadow.”
Taking up an entire gallery, Yoon’s installation is comprised of hundreds of small, cast-rubber body parts. They create numerous shadows of figures on the walls that seem to dance, thanks to a gyrating light bulb hung directly in the middle of the installation that activates as the visitor approaches. Yoon says the truncated rubber figures, hung like puppets, portray the idea of a group as opposed to an individual. It’s something he relates to his training in military methodology while serving in the Korean army. “As soon as I entered the military in Korea, my superiors tried to brainwash all the new soldiers in regards to who our enemy is, why we have to obey them and so on,” Yoon says. “This training methodology and military law were very well structured and very effectively organized to control new troops.” A light and shadow trick is a key factor in this work. Yoon says it is a metaphor of the invisible power of political tricks he encountered.

Kaufman’s “Dancing with Divorced Men,” a six-and-a-half minute, single-channel looped video projection, makes a different, though equally pointed, social commentary. Basically recordings of the twentysomething artist dancing with middle-aged divorced men in their homes, Kaufman says she decided to make the video after a visit to her newly single father’s apartment for the first time. “It’s very strange to visit the home of a newly divorced parent and see what they choose to surround themselves with when they are living on their own for the first time in a long time, or possibly ever,” she says.  All of the participants in “Dancing with Divorced Men” were found through online or in-person divorce-support groups. “All strangers to me, I asked the subjects to choose a song and style of dance and, following their lead,” Kaufman says. “I create an appropriate female counterpart from their cues, recording our collaboration.” Experiencing a major change, particularly in mid-life, necessitates forming a new identity to some degree, Kaufman says. “Vulnerability, disappointment and hope, among many other things, are all part of that process and are emotions I’m fascinated with, both in my subjects and myself,” she says. The work is tender, witty and sad, raising questions of how divorced people cope in their personal spaces and in intimate situations.
“It’s ultimately about the need for human interaction, the search for it and the insecurities around it, in an increasingly cyber-connected, yet emotionally disconnected world,” Kaufman says.

Not gender issues, but gender identity is fodder for Griffin’s “Gender Portraiture Project,” on display here as four small, framed “self-portrait collaborations” between the artist and her subjects. In each, the subject is presented as stereotype—worker, student, and artist—
but also presented to convey their own “embodiment of femaleness,” says Griffin through commentary on personal and historical devices of ornament used in portraiture and home decoration. “Stories told by participants (those posing in the portraits) are about being
stereotyped,” Griffin says. “What is appropriate behavior in relation to perceived gender? What have we been taught about personal aesthetics and hygiene? What are societal expectations depending on class, ethnic heritage, and family background? Every portrait is individually negotiated and designed in collaboration with each subject.”

The remaining works on display are a bit more abstract and obtuse. Hernandez’s wall sculpture, “Mothering the Pearl,” assembled from layers of thread sandwiched between layers of silk and stacked on each other, explores the process of cultural transplantation from a feeling of dislocation to acceptance and growth in an adopted land. Atik’s piece, “Nocturne: Notes on Thoreau,” is comprised of continuous lines of
handwritten words and threaded marking tags that become a layering of words, paper and threads that allows for the interplay between text and textile, providing a wonderful warp and weft to the work that gives it a sense of rhythm. Anasazi’s “Crutches” sculpture attempts to address invisible pain—the kind you imagine when you see someone walking down the street on crutches. Although, that may not be obvious at first, given the integration of several books in the work, which the artist says is “a reference to personal history.” Nevertheless, her work contrasts nicely against Portlock’s large-scale digital print of an imaginary cityscape image generated from 3-D special-effects software. It somehow makes this show come full-circle and complete in its own right.

Kurt Shaw can be reached at

Phillyist 2009

Joyce’s PLAF Diary for Wednesday, September 16

Performance: Emma’s Parlour (Martina Plag/Laureen Griffin/Leah Walton)
Howard Zinn is most well known for his passionate political writing, not his plays. So when I heard he’d written one about Emma Goldman, the renowned anarchist—and that it was being performed at the Fringe—I was intrigued. In collaboration with artist Laureen Griffin, Martina Plag and Leah Walton have put a lush, sensual decoration in the peformance parlour. Using silk-screen printed chairs, old-time props, and a setup much like your grandmother’s living room (if your grandmother was a fierce feminist), the principles have created a visual feast. Griffin, creator of the Gender Portraiture Project, works with her subjects to explore issues of gender, ethnicity, class, and sexuality, and the carefully curated portraits that adorn the walls are vibrant and arresting. They offer a thoughtful counterpoint to the center stage puppet theatre, which includes the smallest details on paper dolls and painted backdrops finely and exquisitely rendered.

During the play itself, Plag and Walton’s quirky, interpretive spin takes the audience on a curious romp, with a few surprises. Two pops of a cap gun had the audience jumping in their seats, and words literally unscroll from Emma’s mouth on occasion during her speeches. Symbolism abounds (a birdcage does double duty as a jail). The actors transition smoothly between their puppet manipulation and more traditional acting roles. Emma’s story is a powerful and timely one—she spoke about issues of love, war, patriotism, democracy, and freedom of speech while wrestling with the tension between pleasure and duty that comes with being an activist—and the visuals compelling, so it seems unfortunate that the play itself, for all its outward beauty and clever ideas, falls a little short of its grand vision. The script seems more of a historical recounting of Emma’s life, and we only receive flashing glimpses of the woman behind the rhetoric. A meandering second half only adds to the disconnect.

I found myself agreeing with Goldman’s thoughts that “there has to be a little beauty in the midst of struggle,” and in that regard, the play designers have conceptualized her ideas quite proudly. I just wish the play’s words had matched the visual power of their performance space.
Festival Rating: Go for the art, stay for the play.

by Joyce Homan

for original article go to Phillyist

EMMA's Parlour House Party


Mary Kalyna is graciously hosting a special party at her home on Sunday August 16 that will feature a preview performance of ‘Emma’, one of this year’s Fringe Festival shows.  Please join us for a unique opportunity to see this moving theatre piece based on the life of Emma Goldman in an intimate setting.  Afterwards we’ll have conversation with the artists, food, drinks & socializing.  Mary is offering the party as a fundraiser to help with the considerable production costs of this great show.

Here are the details:

When:           Sunday August 16
6:30pm  – party starts
7pm – performance

Where:          Home of Mary Kalyna
Please email inquiries or visit facebook.

Donation:     What you can – suggested $10 – $20

There will also be hand-printed textile art creations by Laureen Griffin for sale, and award-winning poet CAConrad is offering to auction one of his remarkable Tarot card readings to the highest bidder!  Sounds like fun, right?

I hope you will join me – it would be wonderful to see you!