Artist Alice Williams recently published Where the Light Comes In, the third instalment in a trilogy of illustrated books filled with her artwork as well as divinely-inspired quotes and meditations from Abdu’l-Baha and others.
Alice graciously agreed to tell us about Where the Light Comes In, as well as about the whole trilogy and the artwork featured — some of which is included below. We hope you enjoy!
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been a Baha’i since 1978. My daughters, Aimee and Jenny, were young children then and I was happy to discover the Faith in time to raise them in it. I’ve held a number of non-art related jobs, but I’ve been a painter and photographic artist since I served in the art department at Maxwell Baha’i School in Canada in the mid ’90s. I try to use my art for service any way I can. I illustrate, edit and sometimes write for a Baha’i-inspired nonprofit, Oceti Wakan, with Cindy Catches, a long-time pioneer on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and a dear friend who taught me the Faith. I assist her in creating curriculum for children and youth for the prevention of addiction and suicide, and to preserve Lakota culture. Along with my family, I also do art projects with Central American refugee children and create art from them for fundraising and awareness. One project is currently on display at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. I’m active in my Baha’i community in Camarillo, California. I’m blessed to be a mother and grandmother as well.
As the ongoing global pandemic continues to keep many of us apart, it is particularly delightful to see collaborative artistic expressions emerge. A group of craftspeople from the Maritime provinces of Canada, some beginners and others seasoned artists, have created a special textile hanging called “Precious Point of Unity”. The textile consists of 16 blocks of art that were painted, quilted, hand stitched or appliquéd. Each block is based on a story from Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Baha and they were sewn together in the form of a triangle to represent a mountain pointing to a nine-pointed star, depicting Abdu’l-Baha as the Centre or Focus of the Covenant.
Three of the participants involved shared a few words with us about “Precious Point of Unity”:
I have always wanted to be a writer. But despite writing through childhood and high school, and completing a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a focus in poetry, until recently I had never wholeheartedly committed myself to my art. The reason was that I was, and sometimes still am, scared. I was scared because I didn’t know what I would do if I fully devoted myself to the reason I think I was put on this planet, and then found out that my writing did not make a meaningful contribution to society. Sound like a cop-out? I’m pretty sure it was. I lacked the courage to pursue writing because I was afraid of failing. Instead, I pursued many other things—some of which I really loved, and a few of which I was actually very good at—but the whole time I was doing those other things I was carrying a silent awareness that if whatever I was doing didn’t work out it didn’t really matter because what I really wanted to do was write. The result, of course, was that I was always second-guessing myself and never entirely fulfilled by what I was doing: always wondering what it would be like to be truly committed to my chosen line of work, but afraid to give up on the certainty of reliable and even enjoyable work for the possibility of embracing my true calling. Continue reading
One day a young man was composing jazz tunes on a rented piano in his apartment in Boston when the doorbell rang. He opened the door to find himself face-to-face with his blue-eyed neighbour, a classically trained singer who had heard his music through the floor and needed someone to accompany her while she rehearsed. Two years later this singer gave birth to me at home, accompanied by jazz played by my father and the doctor, who was (naturally) also a musician.
Our house was always full of live music and artwork from all over the world. The arts were a way of life. Creating and appreciating art was how we related to each other, and how we built community. So the first time someone asked me what I saw as the purpose of the arts I was thrown off guard. They seem as essential as food and water. There are an endless number of ways that the arts enrich our lives and shape our reality. Here are five that I keep coming back to: Continue reading
Baha’i Blog is super excited to share that we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary since we launched in Naw-Ruz 2011! (Woohoo!!!)
Over the last 10 years, we’ve been passionately exploring how the Revelation of Baha’u’llah translates into different avenues of media by creating a plethora of Baha’i-inspired content, which we hoped will serve the Baha’i community, and also help raise the profile of the Baha’i Faith online. We hope you’ve enjoyed Baha’i Blog so far, and more importantly, we hope that our work has contributed to your journey and exploration of the wonderful teachings of the Baha’i Faith.
Here’s a brief outline of what Baha’i Blog is all about and some examples of our projects over the last decade: Continue reading
I first spotted a couple of Baha’i prayer books for babies and toddlers a few years ago. Their cardboard pages (which make them commonly known as “board books”) are perfect for hands still learning how to turn pages. I wasn’t a mother at the time, but I was eager to purchase them for babies I knew because it was so exciting to see the Baha’i Writings in a format accessible for the very young. Mothers often pray to the babies in their wombs, and sing them prayers from their earliest hours, so it was wonderful to see books safe and strong for really little hands to hold. The first board books I came across were illustrated by Elaheh Bos and I’m really excited that she’s been making more! A Tiny Seed, Rose of Love, I am a Child, Like Unto a Pearl, This Fresh Plant and With Loving Kindness are six newly available board books of prayers and devotions for young children published by Bellwood Press. Three are exquisitely illustrated with plasticine art and three feature color pencil illustrations. Elaheh agreed to tell us a little bit about them and I’m so glad she did. Here’s what she shared: Continue reading
Playful, joyful, energetic, soulful: these are words that come to mind when describing Jacqueline Claire’s illustrations. (If you’d like see some examples of her artwork you can find it here, or you can learn about her podcast here on Baha’i Blog.)
Jacqueline has most recently created a book that illustrates passages and quotations from the Baha’i Writings and it’s called Noble Beings. Although aimed at a younger audience, I think readers of all ages will delight in her book and find it thoughtful and enriching. Noble Beings is only available for purchase between November 9th and December 8th (you can find copies here) and in the following interview, Jacqueline tells us all about her latest project:
Baha’i Blog: What inspired this project?
Love! On so many levels. Love for the Baha’i Writings. Love for teaching and sharing the Baha’i Faith in a way that connects with people’s hearts. Love for children. Love for the vision of a just, ethical and peaceful world.
I first had the idea in 2017 while shopping for an Ayyam-i-Ha gift for a spiritual and precocious six-year-old. I wanted to give something joyful and relatable that would help nurture a Baha’i identity. I really struggled to find anything that hit the perfect note as far as the aesthetics and spirit of buoyancy and joy I was looking for, so I vowed to eventually make it myself! (In the short run, I illustrated “Blessed is the Spot” for the Ayyam-i-Ha gift). Fast forward to 2020, after working on the book piecemeal over the years, I finally realized that not only was quarantine the ideal time to hunker down and complete my book! But I think we all became aware this year that our lives can change in an instant, and anything really important to us we have to commit to and DO. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
As the bicentennial anniversary of the Bab draws to a close, the Baha’i Blog team would like to thank everyone who participated, supported and followed our “Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith From Around the World” project! Continue reading
In The Dawn-Breakers, the Bab quotes a well-known Islamic tradition that states, “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” June Perkins’ book of poems, Illuminations, written in honor of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, seems to meet that description.
Illuminations contains 19 poems, one story, and is accompanied by the art of Ruha and Minaira Fifita. Some of the poems harken back to the days of The Dawn-Breakers and others are timeless in their setting but as a collection, June has deftly sewn them all together: each poem is a jewel, the collection is a well-arranged piece of jewelry.
June tells us all about her book in this interview and we hope you enjoy our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a poet?
Poetry has been a lifelong friend, through thick and thin, from my youngest brother’s acquired head injury to living through Cyclone Yasi and its aftermath and encountering the trials and joys of life.
I think of poets as canaries flying into the darkness of human experience to emerge with balls of light. Poetry, as well as being a way to make meaning of experiences, is a powerful way to pay tribute to all we might be grateful in our lives, from people to places, to a sense of the Divine, or a Great Spirit, we may call God. Continue reading