Tag Archives: Jessie Henson


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead.

There is not a whole lot I can write about the photos you see here.  These are images of Jessie Henson’s magical work of art, aptly named Stardust, installed this summer at Cincinnati’s new School for the Creative and Performing Arts building in honor and memory of Esme Kenney.

Not quite a year ago, a very small group of us gathered to try and figure out how we might possibly go about honoring Esme’s memory, while attempting to begin the healing process among her close knit community of family and friends.  Over coffee, we threw out some ideas.  About the kind of art we were thinking about.  About the ways we might raise the type of money we might need (it turned out to be double our estimate!).  About how to maintain Esme’s spirit and light throughout the process.

Everything from Jessie’s heartfelt, gorgeous proposal and artist’s statement, to a series of amazing concerts which carried the bulk of the fundraising seemed to be laced with a synchronicity completely beyond our control.  We simply woke up each day and got it done. (I say that from a fundraiser’s perspective!)  As an artist, I am honored to have watched Jessie navigate the process of creating such a large scale public work of art.  I know it has not been easy.  But it’s done.  And it’s stunning.  Congratulations Jessie, Lisa, Elaine, Randy, Jen, Kim… everyone involved in making this sculpture a reality.

Below is my favorite shot from Jessie’s pictures.  In a matter of days, these halls will be bustling with the student body of SCPA.  Esme’s friends often wondered how they could leave the old building and head to the new one without their dear friend.  This is how.  Her light and spirit are now part of this spectacular new facility.  For that I am grateful.

Art Heals

This lovely drawing was created by Jessie Henson, the artist chosen unanimously by a group of us who are working to have a large scale sculpture installed in the new School for the Creative and Performing Arts building nearly complete in downtown Cincinnati.  We have been hard at work getting publicity and raising money for what should be an amazing glass installation.  We had a donation’s table at Fame and held a dance party to raise some of the money needed to make this project a reality by spring.  In January, my friend Kim Taylor will put on a concert with many of her talented friends in the music business and there will be silent auction as well.  On the Esme Memorial Sculpture Project website, you can read Jessie’s full statement for the work, as well as make a donation to the project.

But why make a donation?  Well, in other posts here on this lowly little blog, I have written time and again about the healing power of art.  Whether it’s to get myself out of a low place where I can sometimes get fogged in, or if it’s to trudge through a tragedy like we have faced this year, the making of, talking about, viewing, exploring, writing about ART is what gets us through to another day.  To me it is something to have faith in.  I am not a religious person at all, for a variety of reasons I don’t need or want to go into here.  But I do know there is a God-Spirit that resides in all of us and that when I am making art, or music, or poetry – or witnessing the making of it by others – I sense that God-Spirit most of all at these times.  And maybe that is part of why I personally get up and make art every day?

The sculpture Jessie is creating in honor and memory of Esme will include the work of students who want to be involved at SCPA.  It is also intended to honor the memory of anyone whose life is lost too soon, as Esme would want it to be so inclusive.  Jessie will be working with students on the broader topic of memorials as well, for students who may have another loss to process.  In so doing, students, and probably some teachers, will have a chance to peel another onion layer of grief and continue to heal, through the making of art.  The fruition of this project is near and dear to my heart and so I am spending a good deal of time and energy to make it happen.  I urge you to check out the website dedicated to this project and stop back often for more information about upcoming events.  Through music, dancing, making art, writing, we continue the healing process.  We’ll never get over the shock of this event and the loss of our friend, but we can bond together to move through it together.

It’s December, a giving season, and I urge you to consider donating to this project (and check with your employer about matching grants).  It’s not just a sculpture.  It’s an avenue of hope and healing for a community still grappling with loss.  And it will be beautiful.

I’ll keep you posted.