Tag Archives: writer

Here, there and everywhere

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my stories on the blog, but I’ve been doing a lot of fun things lately. I figured it was time for a quick update, so here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to in no particular order:

  • I visited Altru Hospital and met a couple caring nurses who were trying their best to make the holidays a cheerful time for their patients. Melissa, the childlife specialist, took on a little project with the ever-so-popular Elf on the Shelf. She refused to take credit for the little elf named Elfie. “He just showed up,” she said, creating some holiday magic for the children in the pediatrics unit. To read more about their efforts, click here.
  • I chatted with Steven Grant Douglas about his journey from The Empire in Grand Forks to Broadway. The talented actor from Stephen, Minn., landed a lead role in the nationally touring production of “Ghost the Musical” right after performing “Avenue Q” in Grand Forks. We talked about his role, the tour and adjusting to the much larger audiences and life on the road. Read more here.
  • I visited with Rachael Hammarback, owner of RH Standard, about the best choices in winter work wear. We talked tights, boots and leggings. Yes, leggings as pants for work. More here.
  • I joined a group of charitable carolers as they sang holiday favorites to neighbors and friends for Caroling for Warmth. They raised money for people in need of warm clothes such as sweaters and long sleeve shirts. More here.
  • I talked to Ashok Bhatia, of India, and Omar Alomar, of Iraq, about how they celebrate the holidays and how their traditions differ from American traditions. To read more, view the full article here.
  • I visited with several boutique owners about the best New Year’s Eve fashion accessories. We discussed statement necklaces, sequins blazers and cocktail rings. More here.
  • I joined a group of regular trivia-goers for a night at El Roco. While there I met “the king of trivia” and learned about the history of the game in Grand Forks. More here.
  • I reviewed a ton of apps such as 99 Dresses, Lift and Circle.
  • And I met a couple stylish people along the way to do quick Q&A’s with for my weekly Street Style.

This month, I’m excited to share my first episode of my new video series “In the Artist’s Studio.” I’ll be back with more on that later.

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Emma Katka: ‘I just want them to feel something’

When I met Emma Katka for an interview in May at Urban Stampede, it was obvious the 21-year-old artist was going places. With bright pink hair and extravagant makeup, Katka sat and talked to me about her artwork. She had been chosen as one of three emerging artists for the Grand Cities Art Festival, and I remember her saying she was nervous about the event and kind of freaked out that people would be reading about her in the paper.

But, more than that, I remember her response when I asked her what she wanted to get out of the event, what she hoped to accomplish from being a part of the festival. I was expecting an answer about selling her pieces or getting her name out there. Instead, she paused and her voice changed from one of a nervous young adult to one of a passionate artist. “I just want them to feel something,” she said. “I want them to feel an emotion from one of my pieces.”

That’s when I realized this was someone who was going to go places with her artwork. I got back to the office and wrote a full story about the inspiring artist I’d just met, which I unfortunately had to cut down to a short five-inch vignette. A week later, I pitched a story about the artist to my editor. Katka had mentioned her abandoned house adventures, and I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of that and tell her story. My editor loved the idea, so I began talking with Katka about the possibility of accompanying her on an adventure.

She obliged, and we spent several months working out a time and date. When we finally figured out a time I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait. I’d never been in an abandoned house and didn’t know what to expect.

I hopped in the car with Emma and her photographer friend Kristin Berg. We set out on Highway 2, heading west toward Devils Lake. We drove for about 30 minutes before Emma said, “OK start looking… This is where it gets serious.”

Kristin pulled out her camera and looked across the fields, scoping out any possible abandoned houses. Emma pointed to her left and said, “There’s one over there.” She explained that it wasn’t that great and that she’d become picky since realizing she has a “sixth sense” for spotting abandoned houses.

We pulled off on a gravel road and continued driving for several miles before Emma recognized a familiar set of trees and remembered a house she’d visited before. When we finally pulled up to the house, I got butterflies in my stomach.

They grabbed the camera equipment, and we headed inside the house. Behind the door with broken windows, the ceiling lay in pieces on the floor. As I carefully made my way through the rubble, chills ran down my spine.

Emma asked me to slip on her vintage lace dress and directed me while she worked her magic. I held up a broken mirror and looked at my reflection. I was posing for a photograph but I felt transported back in time.

Looking at Emma’s finished artwork, I barely recognize myself. I don’t see the photographs as pictures of me but rather powerful artwork that convey emotion and tell a dark, sad story.

I am extremely blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to not only go on an abandoned house exploration with Emma but actually be a part of creative process. To learn more about Emma’s creative experience photographing abandoned houses, read the full story here, or to hear more about my personal experiences in the abandoned house, read my column here.

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