I've started a new series of works created in response to the stories of local women who have faced adversity and retained, or returned to, a sense of hope. My focus is on resilience, hope and healing. I am interested in the issues that erode hope in our families and communities and how people, particularly women, cope and thrive in difficult times.
"Serenity/Courage/Wisdom: Chiquita" (see description below), my first work in the series, is on view at Studio Gallery through February 25, 2017.
Elpis was the personification and spirit of hope in Greek mythology. The "elle-peace" pronunciation of Elpis inspired the name of my project.
If you would like to share your story or make an introduction, please contact me at
On her 22nd birthday, Chiquita gave birth to her daughter, Shanna—two months prematurely. Shanna wasn’t breathing when she was born and subsequently developed cerebral palsy, a loss or impairment of motor function caused by brain damage.
Over the years, Shanna’s sunny disposition never wavered in spite of multiple surgeries on her eyes, spine, and hips; being immobilized by a full body cast for weeks at a time; and never being able to walk on her own. Throughout the 15 years of her very short life, Shanna’s positive attitude was an inspiration to others.
Chiquita juggled her career while earning her master’s degree, cared for two children, and was a fierce healthcare advocate for her daughter. Chiquita’s strategic approach to challenging the flawed system resulted in better care for Shanna and changes in hospital policies to benefit the safety and well-being of all patients. During this difficult period, Chiquita found respite in the classroom, where she thrived and felt a sense of control. She was inspired by the Serenity Prayer, which became her mantra and guiding force.
Today, Chiquita is an entrepreneur, adjunct professor, loving grandmother to her son, Tommy's, three children, an active member of Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant UMC and an avid genealogist.
About the sculpture: Branches woven together and extended toward the sky form a "spirit house." The Serenity Prayer was handwritten multiple times in a circular pattern and printed on handmade abaca paper, creating paper prayer beads. Strips of gauze, referencing Shanna's full body cast as well as healing, connect the prayer beads. The owl motif signifies Chiquita's quest for learning.
Elle Peace Project is supported in part by funding from the Montgomery County government and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.