Want to know more about the blog name? Just ask me. :)
I was born in 1975 in southern West Virginia and grew up in a small town called Poca. We lived in a subdivision and could and regularly did walk to main street. Several years ago, Poca got its first stop light outside the high school. My 4 siblings (2 brothers, 2 sisters) and I were lucky enough to have an openly creative mother and a more subtly creative father. Our Mom did everything, seemingly- pottery, sewing, painting, wood-working, knitting, crochet, and she even welded! I wish I hadn't told her to go ahead and get rid of the awesome mini lounge chair she welded me. What was I thinking!?! Read too much on Feng Shui and watched too much Clean Sweep, I guess. :(
Dad also did pottery and built radio control cars and planes. Later, he made some beautiful hand carved wooden flutes.
I recently realized that I've been trying to make visual arts a big part of my life for a long time. I started learning to sew, worked with polymer clay and made beaded jewelry (both strung and on a loom- Native American style) in high school (I also started belly dancing when I was 17). I also regularly cut up magazines and collaged with them, though I just thought I was having fun, not making "art".
When looking for a future career, I thought Occupational Therapy sounded like a perfect match! I'd get to help people and use things like painting and other creative expression to do it! During my volunteer work at a local rehab facility, I taught patients to use the bead loom and learned about their many large weaving looms. Once I started OT school, I quickly found out that the field had changed significantly due to insurance policies. Occupational Therapists rarely focused on things that occupied our creative selves any more- mostly on dressing, eating, bathing, shopping, etc. They were even more inclined to use straight exercise rather than an activity that would exercise the body as well as the mind and spirit. :(
So, I decided I would focus more on pediatrics since I loved kids and would get to play as well as help them develop. We did have more of an opportunity to glue and such with children, but it seems that once people get into pediatrics, they have fun and don't want to leave. So, there weren't any positions available in peds in Charleston, where I lived. My jobs were over an hour from where I lived and I was experiencing severe symptoms of Hashimoto's disease.
Because of this, eventually, I began teaching belly dance classes full time as a way to earn money and also nurture myself. I'd been guided and encouraged by many teachers to perform professionally for many years and also to teach. Belly Dance was something I felt was "mine" (as opposed to other people in my family being the "artists") and I was so in love with it, I felt that delving further into it would give me back some of the energy that Hashimoto's was draining away. I'd been teaching classes in college and already had a weekly class where I lived, so it was natural for me to expand what I was doing. I eventually started working part time again as an Occupational Therapist to help pay the bills since supporting our financial needs on a belly dancer's pay really didn't contribute enough. But, I continued teaching and performing belly dance as much as I did when it was my only job.
For the second birthday I celebrated while living in Charleston, I stocked up on paint supplies, film, and asked for a really good camera. I also grabbed any art and craft supply that looked remotely interesting in an attempt to feed the creative beast that was clearly awake in me. :)
In Spring 2002, I realized that I needed to be closer to an established belly dance community in order to fulfill my creative needs. My husband's job constraints meant he had to be in Charleston at least a couple days a week, but he was able to work out moving to Morgantown, which is an hour and a half from Pittsburgh. For a few years, I danced with a troupe in Pittsburgh, but the drive and dividing my energy between building a student base and community in Morgantown and performing in Pittsburgh was too much. So, I focused on solo efforts and building the Morgantown community. I was still able to perform in Pittsburgh, but rehearse at home.
In 2006, I got an amazing and wonderful surprise: I was pregnant! So, I continued to run and teach at the studio I'd opened in Morgantown until I was about 4 months pregnant and then took a break to have a relaxing pregnancy. Working in pediatrics taught me that a stressful pregnancy makes a stressed baby. Working as a sole proprietor of a studio was plenty stressful (because you are the secretary, marketing department, janitor, human resources manager and everything in between). Like all new businesses, it brought in very little money. It was great for a new business that we brought in any at all, but it just didn't make sense to work so many hours for so little money with a little one on the way. Our health is too important.
Sometime after the birth of my son- a wonderful little Pisces- I picked up a book called "Montage Memories". I'd done some scrapbooking- a scrap book for my husband for our 2nd wedding anniversary, one as a gift for my Step Daughter, some pages for our beautiful puppies, whom I dearly and deeply love, a couple pages for Angelo- but, not as much as I'd like. I was always busy sewing belly dance costumes and once Angelo was born, like most Mamas, I had very little free time. I was hoping the book would provide the inspiration needed to get me to make more pages and maybe even "catch up".
Well, it did provide a ton of inspiration!! I discovered altered art!! I think I've only made a few more scrapbook pages, but I started exploring the resources in the book and now am completely and totally addicted to mixed media collage!
Now, we live in Pittsburgh! Eric's job is finally flexible enough that we can move into the actual community I've driving to and made so many friends in for so long. Eric has plenty going on there too, so we will not be driving as much over all, can be together as a family more and participate more with our social groups. Many more opportunities for Angelo too! More belly dance, more friends, less driving, more artful expression. Yay! :)
You can find me on Face Book: www.facebook.com/narah.arrington.minardi and Twitter.
I also have a Face Book fan page, which is mostly populated by belly dance fans, but hopefully I can encompass more of my whole artistic life there like I do here on this blog. I'm looking for a place that my collage students can post their work too.... hmmm...
If you would like to contact me with questions and the like or would like to have me in your area to teach Belly Dance or Mixed Media Arts, click here for my contact information.