What a joy and a responsibility it is working with an extensive variety of clientele, from small community-based organizations such as small home-like Solvay Hospice House in Duluth Minnesota to huge multi-layered Universities like the University of Miami or healthcare systems like Boston Children’s Hospital! As an artist and a designer I partner intimately with these institutions to work at distilling their identity and their gratitude toward their supporters into a compelling visual expression of their Mission—into an architectural mural that helps communicate the heart and spirit of a community. This is my vision of what a donor wall must do.
Well, how do you take information about such complex subjects as the Human Genome Project or the necessity and nourishment of Performing Arts or the boundary-lessness of earth and stars, or even, the compassionate care and tender concern for patients in a Cancer Center and “crystalize” it into a relatively small, timeless welcoming statement and mural in a lobby?
Number 1: you listen fiercely for the essential points in their story—their leadership statements, their architecture, the pictures pinned to their bulletin boards—and you study and read and interview like mad! You must become a part-time researcher-scientist, poet, philosopher, and analyst. The vocabulary has to be very broad! How do you try to do this, to stay current and fresh, creative and comprehensive and deeply honoring? Yikes!
Luckily, early on in my career I discovered the Institute of Noetic Sciences! I was introduced to IONS by Angeles Arrien at Spirit Rock. I was absolutely astounded to listen to her speak with no notes for six hours! I was mesmerized by her rich, far-reaching understanding of human wisdom practices to try to make sense of a confusing, complex world. Who better to remind us of the importance of GRATITUDE and to teach us practices to keep us present and open-hearted?! She shared her love of IONS with me.
At an annual IONS conference, I watched a striking, tall, rosy cheeked, blue-eyed woman with a shock of white hair stride past me to move the whole audience to cry, laugh and be lifted and humbled at the same time. This was Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. More than 60+ years previously it was supposed that this tiny premature infant would die young. I have since given many copies of her book Kitchen Table Wisdom to my Medical Center clients and told them I like to think of this book as part of my altar. Who better to speak of transformation and using your personal “stethoscope” to listen deeply to the heart of matters? She shares so articulately about consciousness and healing and keeping compassion alive, even in the difficult business of medicine.
In 2007, Van Jones was asked while on stage at the IONS Conference when he would run for President. No one laughed. He spoke of social inequity and centuries of oppression and racism, and still, he offered ideas and solutions—green solutions. Who better to demonstrate and allow us bridges and create rungs on a ladder where often they had been missing?
And then, on stage came Edgar Mitchell—a true elder in all the best senses of the word. He spoke to us of science and gifted us with his poetry. What a wonderful role model and witness to our vulnerable living, breathing earth and how to feel meaningful and interconnectivity!
And finally, when I attended a Nine Gates Retreat several years ago at EarthRise, I loved the Center and wished I could create a Donor Wall for IONS! Then last year Cassandra Vieten called me—I love it when a full circle comes around!
Thank you IONS for teaching me, awakening me, supporting me, and stretching me—you are a deep gift to all of us. I feel very honored to have had this chance to help you honor your "Acts of Light."
~ Christina Amri
About the Artist
Christina Amri is the founder, principal, and lead designer of Amri Studio. Her artistic vision, leadership, and technical expertise has made the studio one of the most sought-after donor recognition and art glass studios in the U.S. today.
Amri began her training in Paris in the early 1970s, where she apprenticed in a highly respected 4th generation stained glass studio. There she had the unparalleled opportunity to work on the restoration of the famed windows of Chartres Cathedral.
When sunlight streamed through such windows, they were said to "transform everyday light into the light of paradise." This was the beginning of Amri's personal commitment to creating timeless permanent monument-style works of art with luminosity, striking beauty, deep messaging, and exquisite artisanship.