Sara Balbin, Dragonfly Studios
Accomplished artist, art therapist, author, and community activist, Sara Balbin is a powerhouse of talent and energy. Her sculptures, made of natural elements such as steel and boulders, often convey a sense of grounded inspiration, reflecting the diversity of humanity in concert with the natural environment. Since 1987 she has worked out of her Dragonfly Studio on Blue Moon Rd. Drummond, Wisconsin.
Sara’s sculptures can be viewed nationally at many locations including the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota, Northland College, Ashland, WI, Marshfield Clinic, Oncology Healing Garden, Rice Lake, and twenty-four other locations around Cable, Namakagon, and Hayward, WI. In addition, 32 of her oil portraits were published in “Spirit of the Ojibwe: Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders” which she co-authored in 2012.
Sara was born in Havana, Cuba, and reared in Chicago, Illinois. She earned both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Art Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and is a registered art therapist with the State and National Credential Board. Since 1989, she has provided art therapy to children, adolescents, adults, and geriatric clients in Northern Wisconsin with varying illnesses, disorders and disabilities, including anger management and grief.
Over the years, Sara has co-founded several not for profit corporations, serving as President of the Chequamegon Fine Arts Festivals, the Cable-Hayward Area Arts Council (CHARAC), and See My Art Inc. (SMART), a corporation serving individuals with disabilities through the arts. She received a grant from the Sarah Marshall Grant, P.E.O. Chapter D.M., Hayward, WI. for SMART to publish a coloring book with original designs by artists with disabilities.
Sara envisions a free online community where SMART artists can showcase their art, communicate with one another for socialization, integration, empowerment, independence, and healing. Ending the isolation they often live with, and seeing new opportunities through the SMART website www.seemyart.us, and Facebook are key goals for SMART. These social connections offer new insights and provide for self-esteem bolstering input from friends, family and community.
SMART mentors artists at events and showcases their work at galleries to achieve their mission and vision. This is where communication begins.
Mission: Using Art to Empower and Inspire.
Vision: Unlocking Doors and Opening Minds through Art.
Shelly Wilson and her husband Mike have been coming up to the Cable area for 20 years to vacation and take part in events. They both fell in love with the area and its people. Just recently both retired and they decided to make Cable their full time home. Shelly retired from 25 years of teaching high school science. She now keeps busy hiking, biking, volunteering and reading. Shelly looks forward to being on the SMART board to help support individuals with disabilities.
Collage is a mixed-media art form that Ronda gravitates towards. The combining of various textures and colors to form an image – or even an abstract – that draws one in to search for more. Looking deeper to see all of what is there…much as in life. “We are all compiled of different colors and textures and ways of thinking and seeing, it is that process – expressing what one sees or feels – that leads me to want to be a part of See My ART, Inc.” Tworek says. “Using multiple art forms to express one’s emotions or thoughts can be rewarding, helpful and even therapeutic.”
Being the mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum has taught Ronda to look deeper into a person, into a situation, that things may not be as they appear. “Giving one an opportunity to express themselves in a relaxed environment can provide the chance to create amazing expressions and perhaps emotional healing. Yet, having patience and acceptance of “what is” and not trying to change it, using art as a therapy to work through situations that may not be easy to otherwise cope. It is the process of looking beyond a situation, to the core of the individual themselves that makes me want to play an active role in the SMART mission by volunteering to serve on its Board of Directors.
Ronda currently works full-time for the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation as Volunteer Coordinator. In addition to coordinating volunteers, Ronda finds time to volunteer for other community organizations. From 2005 to 2010 she served on the Board of Directors of CHARAC – the Cable Hayward Area Arts Council – four of them being on the Executive Board as Treasurer. For 15+ years, she was an on-air host at WOJB 88.9FM – the local public radio station, programming 2-hour music program.
Music being a big part of her life, Ronda has attended (and volunteered for) many music festivals, most recently the ‘Eaux Claires Art & Music Festival”, in Eau Claire (WI). As well as volunteering at the local performing arts center – ‘The Park Center’, to annual event support for the ‘Alzheimer’s Association’ walk in Illinois, Ronda’s home-state or the ‘Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival’, that rolls past her house. “Giving back of one’s time is minimal compared to the joy it brings to assist in ones efforts to empower individuals in an event, or in providing a service. It always leaves me feeling like we’ve served a purpose or made a difference. If only for one person, it’s totally worth it.”
Since the year 2000 Ronda has been creating collage works, incorporating her handmade papers and a multitude of colors to make something beautiful. “The struggles of raising a son who has behavioral issues associated with being Autistic has been challenging. It is art, and SMART, that reminds me that we can all use a little help expressing ourselves. “Drawing or writing stories seems to calm my son, help him relax, help him to focus. Where he can express his emotions and even find a more even keel in which to connect with adults or his peers. My son has made me see things differently, and I appreciate the way he looks at the world and how he shares that with others.”
Ronda hopes that by being an active part of See My Art, she can facilitate that experience for anyone who has emotional or behavioral, cognitive or physical disabilities, to help express themselves. To find calm and peace within themselves, as we all need that within the chaos in our lives, our hearts and in our minds.
Brenda Spurlock has lived with her husband Vaughn, and sons Kyle and Cody in the Chequamegon Bay area since 1990. Brenda has worked for Bayfield County for over 22 years, first serving as Victim/Witness Coordinator and Legal Assistant to the District Attorney; and subsequently as the County’s first Criminal Justice Coordinator since 2005.
As Criminal Justice Coordinator, Ms. Spurlock has developed and facilitated evidence-based programs designed to change the thinking and behavior of offenders to promote a successful re-entry into the community. Brenda has served as the project director for Bayfield County’s Risk Reduction Treatment Court (RRTC) since its inception in 2011. She has written grants and implemented programs focused on effective treatment alternatives, cross-jurisdictional training, and funding for educational enhancement for offenders in the Bayfield and Ashland County area.
Brenda has two wonderful sons. The oldest son, Kyle, is a Speech and Language Pathologist for the Adams-12 School District in Thornton, Colorado. Her younger son, Cody, has been a SMART artist for the past two-plus years, and enjoys the ability to express himself and make others smile through his art.
Christie Carlson relocated to the north woods of Wisconsin in 2006 with her husband, Leo, and daughter Emma (14), when Leo took a position with Norvado, then Chequammegon Communications. Since that time, Leo and Christie have added two boys, Isaac (7) and Noah (5), 3 dogs, and 2 cats to the family.
Over the past 11 years, Christie and her family have settled in and made the Cable/Drummond area their home, enjoying all of the beauty and tranquility that comes with living in the forest.
When she isn’t working alongside Leo to homeschool Emma, Isaac, and Noah, she is publishing the latest edition of Forest & Lakes, Monthly Magazine, Christie enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, quilting, and reading. Christie’s background and education is in web and graphic design, marketing, and brand development.
My name is Anita Warren, I have been a volunteer for SMART and am willing to serve on your board. Recently, I served two terms on the Forest Lodge Library Board and the Katie Flowers Endowment Board and am the secretary of my church board. I’m presently unemployed (I’m too young to call it retirement) but have worked for local businesses and have recently been employed by a family on Lake Owen.
My love of the arts and love for my son Alex, who is on the Autism Spectrum, are the motivation for me to be a part of SMART, empowering people with disabilities. In particular, I’d like to work with the sale and distribution of the artists greeting cards. I’ll try to do my best to expand this area of the artists empowerment and independence.
Thank you and I’m looking forward to serving with you!