Art For a Better World

January 25th, 2014  |  Published in *, January 2014, Profiles  |  2 Comments

by Saad Ghosn

I.              Images For A Better World: Paige WIDEMAN, Visual Artist

Paige Wideman, born in Indianapolis, Indiana, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a BFA degree in sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute (1989), and an MFA degree, also in sculpture, from the University of Cincinnati (1999).

Wideman took 10 years off between degrees to figure out who she was as an artist and what was important to her to communicate and explore through her art. During that time she worked in various positions at Xavier University. Upon completing her MFA, she started teaching at both Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and Wilmington College. She is now a full-time instructor and coordinator of Art Appreciation at NKU.

When she was about 14 years old, Wideman’s father went to India for 6 months to teach and work. Toward the end of his stay, he flew his family over to visit and live there for a while and they all spent a couple of months in various parts of the country. It was a different time with parenting and with her sister closest in age to her, Wideman would often walk around and explore the various cities on her own. She would meet people and experience a world very far removed from her own and learn about different cultures and various religious practices. After India and before returning home, Wideman and her family visited Egypt, Greece and other European countries.  Although quite young at the time, this experience kept a long lasting impact on her and on how she moves through the world, also on how she approaches her art.

As she continued to travel through her life, it became important to Wideman to see each time the “real” country she was visiting, its people and its culture, and not only the tourist view. This lead her to further study of ancient cultures. In each of her travel experiences Wideman would find that people, no matter how impoverished, embrace life, have hope and find happiness in basic ways. Using photography she kept visual records of her many interactions and encounters; along with journaled memories, they eventually resurfaced in her art.

Although Wideman’s work is abstract, it originates from and is clearly influenced by her travel experiences and research. She often uses found objects, wood and rusted metal, as her starting point. Like for people, she sees in each object its own history, and while respecting that history, she also sees connections between objects that seem to want to be together. So in creating a piece, a new experience/story begins to emerge which still echoes the past. Wideman also sees in each of her pieces a connection to indigenous cultures that are displaced and have to adapt when an outside culture steps in and changes their world. They do so for survival, maintaining at the same time as much of their cultural traditions as they can.

Wideman enjoys working more abstractly because it allows people to connect in their own way to her work, to relate back to experiences within their own lives and travel. When she exhibited “Song Catcher” at the Sculpture Center in Cincinnati, a man approached her at the opening of the show and asked her about the piece and what it represented to her. But before Wideman could share, he started telling her what it meant to him. He recalled that during WWII, in European cities, men often stood at street corners singing, their hats placed upside down at their feet in hopes that their songs would move people to toss in a coin or two as they passed by. The man related the saw marks in the wood of the piece to the men’s voices drifting off and filling the streets, and the bowl at its base as a symbol of their hats for collecting money.

Paige Wideman – Song Catcher

  1. Song Catcher, mixed media sculpture

 Song Catcher is a piece Wideman started in order to break away from abstract representations of individuals in her life whom she felt had helped to define or influence who she had become. Until then she was using materials to relate specifically to human characteristics, like strength, fragility, resilience; she started focusing instead on the materials themselves and on their intrinsic beauty, whether stained, grooved, rusted. The verticality of the piece still had a human quality about it, a characteristic more prominent in her prior body of work; but the work was moving beyond that aspect at the same time. Wideman chose the title because of the initial connection she made to a particular individual she knew and who always sang in her presence.

Paige Wideman – Edifice

  1. Edifice, mixed media sculpture

Wideman created Edifice from found objects (small wood table leg, lattice work from under her porch and found metal from the side of the road). Visually it evokes architecture by its linear quality and the interior structure exposed at its top. It references something once solid with purpose and function, but which with time became impacted by nature or man. Wideman meant it as sitting between those realms, telling two stories at the same time.

Paige Wideman – Guardian

  1. Guardian, mixed media sculpture

Wideman meant Guardian as a piece that feels human, ancient and watchful all at the same time. Like various cultures which create works of art to reference their ancestors or guardians who help protect or guide them through life, Wideman wanted it to represent the same. Its rusted elements break the wood into segments that communicate a sense of proportion more traditionally seen in African or Polynesian figurative art. In addition, the piece creates a sense of age or longer passage of time; and there is a quietness about it that lends to the idea of observing, of being watchful.

Paige Wideman – Memory Mine

  1. Memory Mine, mixed media sculpture

Memory Mine brought more clearly the use of old and new materials together. It was the beginning of a change in Wideman’s work, as she decided to alter or add paint and other materials to her art pieces which no longer had to keep their original patina or shape. Here an old ironing board and a wooden box come together to reference the idea of our personal journeys, of what we hold within us from our interactions and experiences. It includes also an unusual wooden element which has an Asian feel; the looseness and simplicity of the mark making in Chinese landscape or calligraphy paintings usually connects vey much with Wideman’s sensibility. New in this case was the addition of cut willow twigs to fill the lower portion of the box, each hand cut to ensure a surface as flat as possible. Each of the twigs was meant to represent a memory or experience; the twig’s circular cut end reflected the mark making in Aboriginal art and as such indirectly referred to Dreamtime.

Paige Wideman – Morning

  1. Morning, mixed media sculpture

Morning continues to reveal itself to Wideman. She had not realized until recently that the majority of its elements consisted of old chair or bench legs. She initially chose them, as she usually does in most of her pieces, for their shape and natural patina. Preserving their original state, i.e. their embedded history, as much as possible, she added minimal metal and paint to help pull the new story to the forefront. The title Morning refers to the softness of the colors and to the circular element at the top. The piece also embodies the emotional memory of some of Wideman’s experiences in her travels over the years.

II.            Words For A Better World: Kate FADICK, Literary Artist

Kate Fadick was born and grew up in Arkansas during the days of Gov. Orval Faubus, who was governor of Arkansas when Pres. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to desegregate the public schools.  Working toward degrees in music and theology enlarged her view of the world, and for 25 years she worked as a community organizer/social justice advocate in rural Appalachia and greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky urban neighborhoods. Her work in eastern Kentucky was centered on economic issues and included the development of small worker- owned businesses with women. In urban neighborhoods she worked with homeless families to address the many aspects of moving out of homelessness, and with children and young adults using arts and music for self expression and growth as community leaders.  She sang 18 seasons with MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, a group committed to musical excellence and social change.

These days Fadick is “emerging” as a poet well into her 7th decade. Now she takes long walks, photographs and time to read, as well as write, poems. She lives in Cincinnati’s Northside with her partner of 23 years.  Her first chapbook, Slipstream, was released by Finishing Line Press in February, 2013.  Her most recent journal publication is in Wind Magazine’s 97th issue.

1. “Miss Magnolia’s Cornbread” and “Confessions of a Southern Exile” speak of Fadick’s coming to grips with growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s in a place where racism was the norm within school, church and family.

Miss Magnolia’s Cornbread

three inches thick,
soaked through
with butter, wrapped
in a brown crust,
and glass after glass
of sweet milk poured
just like she poured

one word into another.
I remember her stories
of catfish  bigger than
any skillet could hold,
seven miles of summer
heat leading to fields
where she picked beans,
fingers raw. I remember

staring when we took her
home; her dust-for-grass
front yard, the swing on
the  porch, door standing
open and pink flowers
on the wallpaper in the room
where the man, straw hat
pulled down over

his eyes, sat.
I remember the weekend
whispers at Miss Irene’s
beauty shop, the money
my mother left
in a kitchen drawer,

set trap
never sprung.

Confessions of a Southern Exile

Cocooned between
raised fists
heaved obscenities
leashed dogs
mace spitting
from arms
of the law


lullaby rain
on a tin roof
first barefoot
day in May
rhythmic clap
of screen doors
just before supper

a long overdue
lament wails
deep in me

2.   “Self- Portrait as Edith Warner” makes a connection Fadick sees between uninformed citizen response to work on the Manhattan Project and current day fracking practice. Edith Warner (1893-1951) lived at Otowi Crossing in northern New Mexico and nourished relationships with Pueblo Indians and scientists from the Manhattan Project in her tearoom, serving them her unique chocolate cake.

 Self-Portrait as Edith Warner

Caught by choice
at the junction

where beauty
and violence meet,

I am at home
in the distraction

of butter, sugar,
eggs. Chemicals

mainlined below
fracked bedrock turn

water into flames
while the cake bakes.

3.   Fadick wrote “Bee Yard” as a response to US leadership’s failure to acknowledge that the use of our drones and their chemicals at the end of the day have the same results.

Bee Yard

Seven rotting
hive frames

a field of wild mustard

remnants of a time
when drones
created life.

4.    Fadick wrote “Totenbuch” in response to the opening of thousands of filing cabinets with 50 million pages holding the stories of the victims of the Holocaust.


In the time of tended silence
little mention of lives left

on faded onionskin
single- spaced meticulous

death splayed to cameras
microphones sixty years late

better than never

5.    The first draft for “Lexicon for Times Like These” was written at the onset of the war with Iraq after 9/11 while Fadick awaited the arrival of a collection by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Lexicon for Times like These

I have your latest book,
written during this war.
It came with today’s junk mail.
I open it, whisper,
I’ve been waiting to hear from you,
then sit, lulled into deceptive peace,
sun and breeze on an August afternoon,
shade dapple at play on the porch.

Your poems hang on the pages
like the tight-skinned olives you love.
In more than one you write of words
used to name nonsense: friendly fire,
stray bullets, the beautiful thing about war.
You will have none of this evening news jargon,
enthusiastic attempts to clean up destruction.

I read deeper into the afternoon,
smell the supper simmering next door,
see the yellow finch circle
the coneflower, hear children
across the street laugh.

6.    After several years working as a community organizer/social justice advocate in rural Appalachia Fadick settled in Cincinnati, and until recently worked in urban neighborhoods with community organizations and public schools. “Innocents”, “The Misunderstanding” and “This Is Enough” have their roots in that experience.


I do love the way
a late winter snow
slows me down
reminds me of the beauty
of everything

the way it pulls
trees away
from gray sky
a diorama
of run-down houses
at the end of the street

the way ice scrapes metal
sculptures abandoned
with the warehouse
around the corner
covers everything
as if to say
this is worth keeping

and how today it steadies
me in the avalanche
the six-year-old starts
with his words
when he tells me
his dream

the one in which he runs
is caught raped

The Misunderstanding

The young artist
works at the market
downtown, stocks
produce, cage-free
eggs sold by sixes.

On her way home
she buys sunflowers
fresh, not for herself,
but for those she
passes on the street,

gives them away
one by one, the last
to a lone woman who
asks Why do you give
me a dead flower?

Home again, she dips
a brush into coffee left
behind in the morning
rush, paints the woman’s
face on a paper napkin.

This Is Enough

Last week the five-year
old was afraid
of dirt

what might come
crawling out
of it

whiny refusals
to take a closer

this afternoon she squats
pulls dirt back

puts one then another
lettuce plant in place

the earth around them
smiling sending

looking for pictures someone
took in another

in one I bury my face
in a peony bloom in another

pat dirt around an iris
flag this is enough

to save the world


  1. Karen George says:

    January 25th, 2014at 1:46 pm(#)

    Amazing poems. Such keen insights that invite the reader to pay attention and consider what this poet is bringing to light, without hitting us over the head.

    Lovely accompanying art.

  2. Terry says:

    January 25th, 2014at 9:54 pm(#)

    Succinct, delicious, distinctly Kate.
    Unique art.