Art for a Better World – March

March 25th, 2014  |  Published in *, Features, March 2014  |  5 Comments

by Saad Ghosn

I.  Images For A Better World: Kimberly HENSON, Visual Artist

Kymberly Henson has been working in the arts for over 30 years. After graduating with an art degree from Edgecliff College she owned and operated a wearable art studio called “Kymber Originals”, producing one of a kind and limited edition hand-painted and shibori clothing.

Recent years have seen a shift of her artistic sensibility to mosaic, small sculptures and painting. Although she still creates hand-painted clothing for “Kymber Originals,” Henson is increasingly interested in the story-telling that is more effectively accomplished in other media. In all of her work one will find narratives from her life and from lives that have touched her in some way.

Frequent travels to Mexico have had a major influence over her through the years, the vibrancy of the colors, the crafts and the people being a source of joy and inspiration.

For the last 10 years Henson has worked on a series that tells the stories of the abused, the powerless and the invisible. If words have sometimes failed her in life and if on many occasions she has felt her tongue tied, she has been blessed, nevertheless, to be able to express herself through art. Art is the vehicle that gives her meaning, and breath, and hope.

Henson’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, in galleries and in exhibitions.

She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, daughter, dog, cats and flowers.

The Only Way Out is Through consists of 8 mixed media sculptures (Afraid of the Dark; Spilled Milk; Can’t Seem to Face up to the Facts; My Lips are Sealed; Say Something Once; Trophy; Qu’est Que C’est; The Only Way Out is Through) and is a narrative series about child abuse and the journey from fear and shame to power and light. Henson experienced abuse firsthand, the kind of experience that can break one’s spirit. But healing is possible and there is an arc to it. One must first abandon the role of victim in order to reclaim the self. So many children around the world don’t have the advantages and support systems that Henson was able to lean on. So many children, and so many powerless people of all ages, simply have nowhere to turn. Henson made this series first to heal herself, then to shine a little light so that others can see that there can be a path to wholeness. She also aims to bring the shameless exploitation of children and the poor and meek to the awareness of good people in the world. If these things go in secret, they continue. If light is shone on evil, it cannot survive.

Afraid of the Dark, mixed media sculpture


Afraid of the Dark, the first sculpture of the series, reflects the feeling that danger is everywhere, even when one feels safe in one’s own bed. The spiders are a visual reminder of the nightmares Henson once had frequently, when she dreamed that “Daddy longlegs” spiders were surrounding her by the hundreds of thousands and threatening to envelop her.

Spilled Milk, mixed media sculpture


Spilled Milk recalls that lonely feeling, when the little bit of comfort one has, is callously taken away.

Can’t Seem to Face up to the Facts, mixed media sculpture (composite image, front and back)

Can’t Seem to Face up to the Facts is a reference to the lengths to which people will go to avoid looking at the ugly face of reality, pretending that there is nothing amiss in the world, so that we won’t have to trouble ourselves with it. The eggshells on this piece (and on many of Henson’s pieces) are created in the method of traditional Ukranian Pysanky; that is, the eggs are decorated with wax and dyes. In Henson’s pieces, they are then crushed in order to lay in a mosaic of pattern and design. On each of the eggs in this piece is repeated a phrase from a Talking Heads song (Psycho Killer): “Can’t seem to face up to the facts, tense and nervous, can’t relax. Can’t sleep, bed’s on fire, don’t touch me, I’m a real live wire”.

My Lips Are Sealed, mixed media sculpture (composite image, front and back)

When children or adults are the victims of abuse, they are almost inevitably told to keep their mouths shut or there will be consequences. The feeling is quite unnerving. In My Lips Are Sealed Henson created the stage-like atmosphere to reflect the feeling she had, pretending to be normal, just to survive. The inside of the box is filled with eggshell mosaic. The outside is photo transfers on the wood, which have then been lightly painted.

Say Something Once, mixed media sculpture (composite image, front and back)

Say Something Once reflects the terrible feeling that no one will listen when one tries to speak about injustice. No one wants to hear it. No one wants to fix it. On the back of the piece, the words fly out of the hand into thin air.

Trophy, mixed media sculpture

Trophy is the darkness before the light. The box is surrounded by blood red birds, guarding the activity that goes on inside, in a torture chamber atmosphere. The hand on the front of the box holds feathers from a wounded bird.

Qu’est Ce Que C’est, mixed media sculpture (composite image, front and back)

Qu’est Ce Que C’est reflects that dark period, after terrible things have happened, but before one can go on with life. One experiences a death of sorts; a death of hope, a death of joy, a death of trust. Sitting with this, and mourning these things, allows one to pick oneself up at last, and go on.

The Only Way Out Is Through, mixed media sculpture (composite image, front and side)

The Only Way Out Is Through is a reflection on the fact that after dark is light. Moving through stages of grief, denial, fear and anger allows one to actually leave these feelings behind, and move forward with grace and even happiness.

Waiting for the Wolf, mixed media sculpture (composite image, with detail)

What do you Want?, eggshell mosaic, found objects, mixed media sculpture

Waiting for the Wolf and What Do You Want are further explorations of the powerlessness of all the people in the world who are at the mercy of larger forces, whether indifferent or malevolent. When abuse is present in one’s life, the question over and over again in a person’s mind is: What do you want from me? The answer is: everything and nothing.

11. Too Soon to Tell, mixed media sculpture

Too Late, mixed media sculpture

Henson made Too Soon to Tell and Too Late as a pair. The first indicates the openness of youth. The second, the slow feeling of losing one’s grip and one’s identity, as cruelty slowly infiltrates the soft parts of a person, trying to engulf it entirely.

Secrets, mixed media sculpture

Secrets is both personal and global. When she was young, Henson coped with despair and recurring abuse by imagining that a bird would fly in through a window when things were at their worst, and that the bird would carry her to safety. She believed that this bird was real, and she believed it for a very long time as she needed to believe in it. The bird on the shoulder of the baby is the bird that can carry the weight of sorrow on its back and bring back relief. The bird is representative of all those beings of light who deliver encouragement, relief and rescue and who can hear the abused children’s secrets and love them through it.

Cage of Dreams, mixed media sculpture (composite image, with detail)


Cage of Dreams is a resting place for all the dreams, hopes, wishes, that are displaced when outside forces interrupt the flow of life.


II. Words For A Better World: Susan GLASSMEYER, Literary Artist

Susan F. Glassmeyer is founder of Little Pocket Poetry (www.LittlePocketPoetry.Org) and author of Body Matters (Pudding House Press 2010) and Cook’s Luck (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She is past president of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League and is currently its Poetry Liaison. Every April, Susan makes available a daily annotated blog of cherished poems to celebrate National Poetry Month. A seven-year archive of “April Gifts” is available on her website.

As co-director of the Holistic Health Center of Cincinnati, Susan works as a somatic therapist with more than 35 years of education and experience in a variety of healing modalities. Her interest in “the body” and in poetry both began in 1963. Fearing a freshman high school speech class, Susan flew to the Price Hill branch of the Public Library to investigate anything she could find on “breathing”, knowing firsthand its profound influence on the body’s ability to move and speak. She wrote her first serious poem weeks later, the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

The first 4 prose poems below were previously published in Glassmeyer’s chapbook Cook’s Luck (Finishing Line Press, 2011); the last 4 verse poems are unpublished.

1. Glassmeyer was shopping at a Kroger’s late one night, not in a hurry, just minding her own business, which also meant quietly paying attention to her surroundings. Time slows down when we pay attention, and what we’d otherwise miss looms large, bringing greater connection to one another.

Miss Carlton

An abundant black woman, two and a half times our size, glides up in a wide-bottom sit-down shopping cart at the grocery checkout lane in absolute silence, arriving in the artificial light like a mirage. Her girth is amplified by a bolt of lightweight wool whose shades of amber and gray drape her like fog around the foot of a mountain. Her high-grade heavy-duty aluminum cane crosses her lap like a scepter, bisecting her circumference. The woman’s jewelry seems out of place in this suburban late-night run for tomorrow’s gorging, especially the earrings, all pounded platinum and beaded pearl on this queen whom few can bear to look upon directly. An aura can intimidate, so some ignore her by taking refuge in their stock of edible pleasures: snack cakes, chicken salad, frozen pizza. Any coupons? Is plastic all right? the checker wants to know. A child told not to finger the cascading display of gum and candies, turns and stares at the woman’s open face. She grins back with warmth. You nod that she may go ahead of you in line, noticing her basket contains, oddly enough, only two reams of Brilliant White copy paper. She graciously declines saying: Thank you all the same. I’m just taking it all in. Enjoying every minute of it. You move in closer, find out she is a math teacher, eight special needs teenagers in a rundown public school who hate math. Can’t see no good in it, they tell her. Even though she patiently explains the positive in their double negative talk, it’s all lost on them except for one girl who struggles with long division—I hate your stupid numbers, Miss Carlton, but I come to class because you love us.

2. Glassmeyer’s husband often runs the 5K race in May on Memorial Day in his beloved hometown of Perrysburg, Ohio. Although he came in second place in his age group one year, it left him “hungry”, motivated to return the following year. Our chronic desire to “win”, to come in “first”, was on Glassmeyer’s mind when her poem “Placing Second in The 5K” surfaced. She wondered whether siting the hawks the day before the race was an omen?

Placing Second in The 5K

Just before the gun goes off, your mind is back inside the track of yesterday recalling that red-tailed hawk circling a field of new winter wheat on the outskirts of town. A second hawk sailed close behind crying out with a flourish while the first hawk, all one-pointed focus, plunged into the knee-high green. It clutched a field rat by the throat and carried away that bulky prize whose black tail whipped the sky like a snake. The hawk and the rat looked oddly grand in the overhead blue, while the second hawk flew away quietly, still hungry, but unencumbered.

3. Does material wealth satisfy? How might Glassmeyer find “home” wherever she rests her head? Part truth, part fiction, her poem “Getaway” is an attempt to remember that what she has is often all that she needs.


You wouldn’t think a vacation trailer, sweet relic from the 60’s, could be considered home when you’re accustomed to a six- bedroom mansion in a gated community where the sun always shines. And although you make hundreds of dollars an hour deciphering pathology on slides of patients you will never meet, your face says it all. The skin around your mouth is falling downward in sadness because your wife wants to go home and sleep by herself in her own room where she can control the light, the heat, and the noise. If you come back here by yourself, she will refuse to water your bonsai collection while you are away.

4. Glassmeyer is uncomfortable on the sea and yet she entrusted her family to the care of Norwegian friends in a small boat on a deep foreboding fjord. She feels it is an act of compassion to surrender control, to face a fear and that such a practice can take place anywhere—on a fjord, in an office, at a family gathering.


When his wife was still alive, the Norwegian took us all out in his small boat into the fjord. Our young son who was with us kept a family of fish in an aquarium back home in America. The first fish the Norwegian caught was big enough for all five of us to eat. It thrashed its body of silver against the belly of the boat, dying to get back into the water where it could breathe. The Norwegian lifted it up against the blue sea of sky and snapped its neck with his hands so suddenly our son never cried. For that moment we were all relieved of our suffering, and the fisherman’s wife began dreaming of making us a fine dinner.

5. “Let Them See What They Have Done” is a found poem. The words, including the epigraph, were taken verbatim from a newspaper article Glassmeyer read soon after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. She broke the words and arranged them into short sentences. Each line is a blunt sentence. They are the words of Veronique Pozner, the courageous mother of 6 year-old Noah who was slain that day.

Let Them See What They Have Done
—a found poem

Parents of the dead children were advised to identify them from photographs, such was the carnage.

I asked to see my son’s body
There was no mouth left.
His jaw was blown away.
If you knew what bullets did to human flesh.
Tiny Noah took eleven.
I insisted on an open coffin.
I wanted to put a stone in his hand.
He had no hand to speak of.
I owe it to him.
Little boy, you have to go into the ground.
I had to bear it.
I had to.

6. On her recent first trip to San Diego, Glassmeyer was struck by the abundance of beauty, commercialism and wealth. The homeless there, they say, have a better time of it because they can sleep outdoors in mild temperatures under clear skies. Still, Glassmeyer could not ignore the contrasts.

San Diego Lament

Dead fronds
of towering palms
lie along curbs
like heads of the homeless
in alleys behind
Cash Boulevard,
long faded hair
strewn like piles
of limp rags.

7.    Sitting outside Glassmeyer’s workspace window is a large statue of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion who has vowed to remain on the earth plane until all suffering has ended—including that of the last blade of grass. Glassmeyer watched as the yard keeper saved a blind robin hiding in the ivy. Together she and him nurtured it until its death a few days later.

Seeing Movement

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
—Carl Sagan

In his workshirt stained with sweat
the yard keeper lays down his hedger
to kneel gingerly in thick ivy.

With the hands of Kuan Yin
he flutters the damaged bird up
to his chest, whispering.

8.  “Elle” is another found poem, a patchwork of material Glassmeyer lifted from Elle, a magazine of French origin that focuses on fashion, beauty, and entertainment. She was ill in bed with a rare fever and bronchitis, fuzzy in her head and unable to write anything of much value. She amused herself by reading magazines in between napping. The following 13-part poem is a series of cinquains and haikus.



beauty straddles
big beige Louis Vuitton
bag as if to give birth to a
still life


LSD Design
Lauren Santo Domingo
Parents were hippies


Ralph Lauren. Black shades.
Lamborghini Reventon.
Rollex. Red soft boots.


19 year-old harbors
big penis envy

She aches for what
older men have accrued. “They
make me want to be them!”


Pg 12 Let Facebook
and Twitter do the heavy
lifting for you


Manhattan couple
safeguards 200 blastocysts.
Will unfreeze for cash.

They’re cute, look like
pudgy rice cakes, ready bake
humans being, but . . .

“we worry we might be
handing our embryos over
to weird parents”.


sneer at us for
sleep training our children.
Do we feel superior?


Lady Gaga
in angora top, pink mink
aviator hat

Cher loved
her steak tartare
frock, its amazing fit.
“I am not a piece of meat—she
got that.”


Must have
fall travel bag
surprisingly roomy
“I can fit my whole life inside!”


What’s up with your skin?
It isn’t getting older.
It’s just tired—OLAY


just one use shampoo
glam classic boho edgy
younger looking hair


Pg 269
Send and receive joy with ease!
Priority Mail


Personal ad
Single Female Exec
Seeks father figure to rock her
to sleep


  1. Terry says:

    March 26th, 2014at 5:09 pm(#)

    Thanks, Susan. Succinct wording with lots of power in each line.

    Intriguing art, Kymberly.

  2. Norine Gettys says:

    March 26th, 2014at 9:07 pm(#)

    Thank you Susan
    Ahn was lucky to have teachers like Miss Carlton in grades 1, 2 ,3 that loved him and he knew it. This year his teacher is just teaching and when I asked about his teacher he said “She’s OK”

  3. Ethel Ingalls says:

    March 27th, 2014at 3:22 am(#)

    Getaway packs a punch. I found myself going back to read it again and again. And Love just pours out of every line of Seeing Movement. Thank you, Susan.

  4. Karen Arnett says:

    March 27th, 2014at 9:41 am(#)

    That quote by Carl Sagan takes my breath away! Thank you Susan for your acute observation and powers of sharing what you see. I’m also thrilled to see here rendered into art what I’ve long considered one of my mottoes: “the only way out is through”.

  5. Carol Burns says:

    March 29th, 2014at 7:26 am(#)

    Thank You Susan for sharing AEQAI.

    Kymberly’s art was very touching.

    And your writing is beautiful, not always easy.

    Looking forward to this year’s April Poetry.