Photography skills translate to the operating room… minus the camera

Rachel Holland


Rachel Holland met her husband on a photo shoot. She also met Hillary Clinton, Kid Rock, Eminem and Roger Penske.

During her nearly 20 years as a photographer, “I got to meet a lot of interesting people and got to go places people don’t normally have access to. You get into manufacturing facilities and see how things get made. I got to travel to Germany and Japan and Brazil on photo shoots. It was a lot of work, but exciting. I was a photographer. That was my identity.”

Eventually though, the business model changed and her once-stimulating career began feeling a lot like labor, prompting her to refocus her efforts elsewhere. Now, the 50-year-old is struggling with identity issues.

Holland’s “love affair” with photography began in high school after her father, then stationed on an Army base in Germany, gifted her with an old Voigtländer camera.

However, she also liked science. So she entered the pre-med program at Wayne State University in Detroit. That didn’t last.

“The idea of photography kept creeping back up and I applied to CCS (now called the College for Creative Studies) and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in commercial photography.” She learned the ropes in college and left to start her own business.

Her career started as a generalist, doing industrial and automotive photography, some for AutoWeek, eventually gravitating toward shooting people. “To get the bigger jobs, you have to specialize,” Holland says. “I started commercial portraiture, graphic and traditional composition along with some lifestyle things as well. And I would get hired by magazines and ad agencies.”

Popular Science, Self, The Source, Motor Trend, Discovery Channel, Chevrolet, Campbell Ewald and Owens Corning are among her list of former clients. The best part of each job was getting in the zone and losing herself in the work.

“You can be going and going and look at the clock and hours have gone by. It gets you in that creative flow state and you get energized by,” she says.

Holland had a particular love for working with film. “There’s something magical about trying to capture something in your own way and trying to see how it works out,” she says. “I loved working in a dark room and the chemistry of getting a special effect.”

Everybody’s an “expert”

The advent of digital photography changed everything.

“There were a lot more steps in getting images to the client. A lot of retouching and the nature of what I was doing changed as well,” Holland says, her voice rising. “Clients started wanting video too, which has a different skill set.”

Digital photography made breaking into the business simpler, which was great for novices. Not so for many professional photographers. Holland says, “Prices started coming down because a lot of advanced amateurs were OK with making something for $50 or $100. There was a real science to film. You had to know how to light things. Now you just push a button and it takes a lot of the skill away. It’s become more of a commodity.”

The changes were making Holland uncomfortable about her long-term future. “What if I’m 60 and I just can’t make a living at it?” she asks. “It’s the same thing with web designers and graphic designers. People will do their own work even if it’s terrible rather than hiring professionals to do it.”

Switching lenses for better outcomes

Rather than let her career fizzle out, Holland went to Plan B. She would get a second degree as a fall back.

When a friend mentioned forensic photography, saying there were jobs for nurses as death investigators and photographers, Holland took an internship at the Medical Examiners Office in Wayne County. “I thought that would be really cool,” she says. “I could take nursing as my second degree with a specialty in forensic photography.”

Now Holland is an operating room nurse at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “I think I have an attraction to it because it runs very much like a photo shoot,” she says.

She explains that like a photo shoot, surgeries have a beginning, middle and end, along with a team. The hospital team is comprised of a surgeon, techs, nurses, anesthesiologist, and so on while an ad photo shoot might need an art director, creative director, buyer, make-up person…

“I like the interaction with the team. I like the immediacy and the pressure. The operating room is the same way. You have to get them in, get them done and get them out. The less time in the operating room the better outcome for the patient.”

Whether a photo team or surgical team, you have to advise without overstepping your boundaries. A photographer is advocating for the client. Her role now is to advocate for the patient, who is at risk for injuries and infection.

“I make sure no one unintentionally does anything incorrectly. I plan for the worst and hope for the best. It’s pretty cool. There’s a lot to it.”

While Holland enjoys what she does, she doesn’t yet identify with the title of nurse. On off days, she tries to be creative by experimenting with painting and taking photos, for herself.

“If the business hadn’t changed, I’d still be doing it,” she admits. “It’s disappointing. I used to say, ‘I am a commercial photographer. I shoot images of people for ad agencies and magazines.’ It was an ice breaker. Now I say, ‘I am nurse’ and people say, ‘Oh.’”


Scott Norman wearing a uniform and holding a gun in "The Wars of Other Men" by Mike Zawacki.Story 1: Two artists uncomfortable with the “actor” label share their views on identity because they are both so much more.

Story 2: Authors Colson Whitehead, who’s black, and Jodi Picoult, who is white, address notions of identity in “The Underground Railroad” and “Small Great Things,” painfully convincing novels focused on race and racial injustice.

Paintings by Jay AsquiniStory 3: Years after suffering a debilitating accident, a photographer finds new passion.

Story 4 Life not production makes an artist.


Life, not production, makes an artist

Yvette Rock has always been drawing, making things or cooking up creative dishes. By elementary school, teachers were sending her to special arts classes.

Yvette Rock, photo by Sherry McLaughlin

Yvette Rock, photo by Sherry McLaughlin

For high school, Rock, who is a native of Suriname, a small country just north of Brazil, attended the New World School of the Arts in Miami. Yet it wasn’t until the end of high school that she realized she was an artist.

“I was wavering between the sciences and the arts,” she says. “Should I go into microbiology, medical illustration or be a fine artist and go to art school?”

In 1997, Rock graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union School of Art in New York and in 1999 earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Michigan. In addition to painting, Rock is a mixed-media artist and photographer. Detroit, where Rock now lives, her family and her faith clearly are inspirations for the artist, who has projects called “re Detroit,” “10 Plagues of Detroit,” “A Servant to All” and “Isaiah 58.”

Painting "Yoke" by Yvette Rock

“Yoke” by Yvette Rock

She says being a follower of the teachings of Jesus is the backdrop to everything she does. “Not an in-your-face religion, but a deep abiding relationship. A communing with the person of Jesus.” That relationship reflects not only in her work but in her values as well.

She has served as artist-in-residence and artistic director of the InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit and now, through that organization, teaches at a couple of schools. Rock also operates the traveling Live Coal Gallery, which collects and exhibits art, takes it to neighborhoods and “provides hands-on experiences” for children, families, businesses and through art-based projects at schools.

“It’s a fine new experience for a lot of them because they aren’t taking art classes in Detroit Public Schools.”

If she suddenly couldn’t paint or draw or create other art? “I am an artist,” she says confidently. “It’s woven into who I am and I don’t think I can separate that. It’s part of how I think and relate to the world, how I raise my children and see the world around me.”

Like her parents before her, the mom of four encourages her children’s creativity. “I see myself in them multiplied by 10. I just give them the materials, the room to be themselves. I think that’s the best way to teach, giving them the tools to express who they are.”

Rock says too many artists question their identity.

“Artists get stuck in the production of something, thinking ‘Man, I haven’t been making work and I question am I an artist.’ It’s because we don’t punch in and punch out. But the short answer is, I am an artist. I am always creating things in my mind.

“There’s an intangible part of artistry that people don’t see. The art that people see is the last manifestation of being an artist. Hopefully, I am not justifying the slowing of my production,” she laughs. “Thinking about things creatively, besides mixed media, drawing, but inspiring others, teaching and living my life creatively, that’s being an artist.”


Scott Norman wearing a uniform and holding a gun in "The Wars of Other Men" by Mike Zawacki.Story 1: Two artists uncomfortable with the “actor” label share their views on identity because they are both so much more.

Story 2: Authors Colson Whitehead, who’s black, and Jodi Picoult, who is white, address notions of identity in “The Underground Railroad” and “Small Great Things,” painfully convincing novels focused on race and racial injustice.

Paintings by Jay AsquiniStory 3: Years after suffering a debilitating accident, a photographer finds new passion.

This story:  Learn more about Yvette Rock’s work in this video.

Coming soon: The advent of digital photography forces a difficult decision.

The death of the print arts and culture review

This story first appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.

When I started at The Detroit News in 2002, the paper employed a dedicated restaurant critic, a dance critic, two film critics, a couple of music critics, a theater, jazz and classical music critic, a fine/visual arts critic, a TV critic, a book reviewer, and an abundance of freelance arts critics and generalists, at least.

By the time I became arts and entertainment editor the next year, three critics retired and a music critic/musician went on tour and never came back. However, because we understood that readers looked to these paragons of criticism for unbiased, enthusiastic (or skeptical) and educated observations of a show, we found capable freelancers to carry on and trusted heavily on wire copy by capable critics at other newspapers.

Sometimes readers attended shows based on a reviewer’s recommendation; sometimes they went in spite of it, because reviews — good criticism written by experts in music, theater, visual arts, dance, film or opera — don’t just sell tickets. They attract populations of people to communities, jump-start conversations, enlighten and draw attention to cultural shifts.

If the newspaper didn’t run a review, my phone rang with readers demanding our critics’ views. If I directed them to a review online, older readers took offense; and rightly so, they did not have the internet or sometimes a computer, and as far as they could tell no one seemed to care.

What happened at The News is not unlike what has happened at the Detroit Free PressChicago Sun-TimesLos Angeles Times and at other major newspapers across the U.S., most of which have been plagued over the past 15 years by the rise of the internet and decline of print advertising — and, therefore, a business model that doesn’t work. The result has been a re-evaluating of priorities that for the most part kicked arts coverage to the curb. Even wire companies began laying off arts and entertainment critics.

Leah Smith, marketing and development director for Detroit Repertory Theatre, echoed my thoughts when she said, “It’s the way the world is going in general. … We’re being told art is not as important for quality of life as other things are.”

By the time I left The News in 2014, event listings ruled over actual event coverage. I had only film, pop music and visual arts critics left on staff. We freelanced TV and restaurant reviews, periodically persuaded someone to cover classical music and opera, and relied on wire and our ever-dwindling features staff to preview shows instead. At the same time, diversity of those previews steadily shrank, decreasing coverage of little-known performances and exhibits in favor of stories about trendy events.

Is there anything else you need to know about Harry Potter? We can all hop on the train to Stratford, Ontario, for Shakespeare, but how many know about the summer Shakespeare Royal Oak performances or Detroit Repertory Theatre’s new playwright productions?

Vince Paul, president and artistic director of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, agreed. “The bigger picture is that we’re leaving our body politic in the dark as to the cultural options available to them, or removing that as critical thought or discussion for the performing arts that are on display,” he said.

In the early 1990s, when I was publishing an arts and entertainment magazine called Surreal, then Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer invited me and several other Detroit-area arts writers, photographers, musicians, painters, theater owners, etc., to his office to discuss the needs of the city. He recognized, as does anyone wanting to recruit highly sought-after white-collar workers or retain recent college graduates, that a great city needs a strong cultural foothold. So Archer looked for ways through the arts to boost Detroit’s flagging downtown, because, “You want to share the talent and beauty of the art with everybody,” as David DiChiera, founder and artistic director of Michigan Opera Theatre, has said. DiChiera effectively compared the dearth of reviews to “the proverbial hiding your light under a bushel.”

Reviews bring cultural institutions to light for generations of readers; and losing them doesn’t just save space in the newspaper, it does a disservice to older readers and the community at large, especially in this age of social sharing.

Imagine now, with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, Twitter, et al., the attention Detroit-created, curated, produced and staged performances and exhibits could garner nationwide. Here, we have the only Arab American museum in the country, but no one (that I know of) is reviewing its exhibits. There are at least 80 theaters in Michigan, but only a smattering of reviews can be found, most on

Nevertheless, it’s not just about letting people know the event is happening, it’s about creating conversation.

“Competent critics provide a constant commentary on the arts scene,” said Lawrence Johnson, theater, jazz and classical music critic for The Detroit News for 20 years before he retired in 2006. During his 50-year career, Johnson also has written for the Los Angeles TimesNew York TimesOpera News, various music magazines, and “Classical Voice North America.” He and his wife, Nancy Malitz, founding music critic for USA Today and former cultural columnist at The News and freelancer for dozens of well-known publications, now run a classical music and theater review website, “Chicago on the Aisle.”

“I have always been convinced the number of people who read reviews far exceeds the number of people who see the given event,” Johnson said. “I write a review to try to be evocative of the experience as I witness it for anyone who might be interested in the topic.”

I’m looking forward to the Fisher Theatre’s production of “A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” based on the Mark Haddon novel with the same name. The story is difficult to explain: It’s about an awkward boy — in the novel he had autism — who is trying to solve a mystery. However, it’s much more than that. A review by an experienced critic could clarify things for would-be patrons, book lovers, and those just wanting to know how theater and the world have changed over the years.

That’s the thing about true critics, not bloggers (of which I am one), they are skilled at drawing on historical knowledge of performances/exhibits to draw comparisons to new works. Perhaps a critic would contrast the treatment of the innocent Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to Haddon’s Christopher or to someone in modern day politics. Regardless, I’d like to know.

While I could likely search online for a review next spring when the play is staged, I’d prefer the conversation one gets from the oft-opposing viewpoints of critics at different publications, as when The News‘ (fill in critic’s name here) skewers a show and the Free Press’ (fill in critic’s name here) praises it, or vice versa. In the midst of this conversation, these critics are educating readers.

I think Lawrence Johnson’s point is solid reasoning for more arts reviews. He said, “Good criticism sheds light and stimulates readers to think.” Considering all the bad news happening in our town, our country, and our world, we could use a little more thinking.

From shutter to brush: Jay Asquini keeps creating despite crushing accident

Despite a tumor blinding his left eye when he was a toddler, Jay Asquini has never been short of vision. What he didn’t picture, though, was an accident that would thrust him from a lucrative career as a charismatic photographer into early retirement as a painter.

Jay Asquini with camera in 1998

Jay Asquini in 1998

Observing one grandfather return home to cheerfully discuss his self-owned business and another grandfather return in a foul mood after an aggravating day in the corporate world, Asquini determined at a young age he would be self-employed. His initial plan was to turn his love of literature into a career as a writer. In his mind’s eye, he would be the house husband who sent his wife off to work and kids off to school before he retired to his IBM Selectric typewriter and banged out the great American novel. When Asquini’s parents gave him a camera on the Christmas of his 19th year, he embarked on a duo career as writer and photographer.

“The mechanics (of photography) made sense to me,” says now 60-year-old Asquini. While most photographers have to adjust their vision when looking through a camera’s viewfinder, being blind in one eye makes looking through a viewfinder no different than the way he already sees the world. “A lack of binocular vision has never bothered me.”

While Asquini started making money with the camera right away, he found creative writing and freelance copy writing for ad agencies difficult pursuits. The rewrites seemed endless and billing confusing.

“I found photography an easier environment.” Projects had simpler start and end dates, he says. “There’s a lot more responsibility as a writer, especially as a creative writer because you’re responsible for everything. A photographer has the subject. There’s a form of reality no matter how much creativity goes into it because of the subject.”

Second shot

After about three years of defining himself as a writer and photographer, Asquini clarified his career. Instead of sticking with the dream he had, he created the dream he was meant to bring to life. He made writing a hobby and put the bulk of his energy into photography.

“Photography was part of my personality. It was part of who I was. There was this great reward. I worked from home, with my wife running the office and the studio in the back of the house. The kids grew up in that house. All the things I got hired to see and all the people I got to be with, I loved it. It was infectious, too. I would work with other photographers and we would say we had the best job in the world.”

One day Asquini would find himself riding in a motorcade with the visiting president of Armenia and the next photographing the Detroit Red Wings or the manufacturing processes at a plant. He says he found an easy home in the industrial photography world.

“I didn’t press engineers into doing something creative and outside of their comfort zones. Instead, I could find the beauty in what they were doing and how they were doing it.”

Unlike working in an office, Asquini found he could approach photography with his own personality. “I was never anything but myself, so I never made sense in the ad world. But I did belong with the engineers, the people who built and designed things and turned them into products. That all made sense to me.”

He wasn’t just skilled at industrial photography, he relished its many challenges. There were no film or lights made for the poorly lit and unpredictable manufacturing facilities.

“It’s hot and loud, it can be dangerous, and your images can end up grainy. What you think is a table you can lean on might actually be molten aluminum. There are a lot of crazy things going on that you don’t have control over. But if you can learn how to control those things, you can be a great photographer and land on your feet in any situation. If you can learn how to be creative in that scene too, you can be even f****** better.”

Yard work almost killed me

On August 26, 2001, Jay Asquini decided it was time to remove a tree from his yard, but he wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t damage the pine tree below. After considering carefully, almost obsessively, where he should place the ladder, he secured it, climbed up, and began trimming back the over-hanging branches. Then the tree broke and sprang free. Asquini grasped the ladder. But the blow knocked him from the ladder and on to the back of his neck, pulverizing five of his vertebrae.

Thankfully, Teck Soo, MD, a spine and brain surgeon Asquini calls “my beautiful human being,” put him back together with titanium rods and screws. He says, “I was one millimeter away from being a quadriplegic.”

For Asquini, the worst day in recent American history was also one of the best days of his life. On Sept. 11, 2001, he learned to walk again.

“With the aid of a walker, I took three steps to the TV and watched the towers collapse,” he says without joy.

A few days later, Asquini was home and looking forward to resuming his work. “Doctors couldn’t see why I couldn’t just pick up where I left off.” But cameras can be heavy and Asquini couldn’t seem to hold one easily. Neither could he maneuver the camera or his head so he could see through it properly. The rare times he could operate the camera the way he wanted, he found he could not simultaneously hold a conversation with his subject.

A recent sketch of Jay Asquini by Rachel Holland

A recent sketch of Jay Asquini by Rachel Holland from Asquini’s collection.

“The banter is what helps to dissolve the camera and makes the camera disappear so the subject doesn’t feel like a hunted beast of prey,” Asquini explains. “You feel collaborative with the photographer. But I could only do one or the other, look through the camera or engage.”

Oddly, Asquini understood how to talk and shoot photos, market himself and do everything necessary to run his business; yet he couldn’t actually perform the steps, and no one could explain why.

A year later, Asquini realized his skills as a photographer weren’t coming back. “It was something I had to give up.”

Putting down the camera, picking up a brush

Asquini says he slipped into a deep depression and found himself “in a dysfunctional space.”

“I couldn’t even manage to say the right things to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. As a guy who was never at a loss for words, I found myself becoming one of those frustrated, irate people because I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t understand what I needed, because I didn’t have the capacity to explain myself properly.”

A friend insisted they start painting and Asquini agreed. To his surprise, he fell in love with the process. Years of photography work and watching his mother, a painter, gave Asquini a solid understanding of what light and composition do.

“It was liberating from a creative side. I could paint whatever I wanted and wasn’t bound to my subject. I could use any color I wanted and any lighting I wanted without having to actually use lighting. Now all I had to do was visualize what I want. No one would go about painting the way I do without being a photographer first. Every dimension is used.”

Asquini says he looks for dynamic compositions within a scene rather than the whole scene and makes small four-by-six or five-by-seven sketches that he stores the way he would old negatives.

“As a consequence, I have hundreds of little gems. I don’t need them to be large because I spent years looking through contact sheets. These are the frameworks for things I paint out larger.”

Of two minds

Except he wasn’t able to sell his work. Though he knew from his experience as a photographer what needed to be done to market himself, he collapsed each time he tried to implement those strategies.

“I couldn’t complete things,” he says. “This is where I realized I was dealing with a different brain.”

Three years after the accident, he finally got an appointment with a psychiatrist. After testing, the doctor helped Asquini understand that in addition to damaging his spine in the fall, he also suffered a closed-head injury to his brain.

Now he has what he calls a binocular mind. “I remember what my old mind was capable of performing and now I have this ‘de- tuned’ version that just cannot do the things the old one could do.” He says being able to remember his old brain while dealing with his new brain can be simultaneously irritating and enlightening. “Now I say I have two different perspectives on life.”

He also has learned to redefine his identity. When asked, Asquini can now say he’s a painter without prefacing it with “I was a working photographer for 20 years.” If people press about his new calling, he says he adds “hobbyist”.

“I don’t make an effort to sell my work. I remember how much effort it takes from my old brain, and I don’t have that. Painting is the joy.”

Because he enjoys engaging with other artists and subjects, Asquini began attending a figure drawing class at Eastern Michigan University in 2004. “I love people and find figure drawing subjects.” Every month, he heads to the Carr Center in Detroit to interact with other artists in an artists’ group he co-founded.

“It’s not perfect. I have physical limitations. I wish I could stand up in the park and paint like others do. But if you’re an accountant, you have real limits…

“When you’re a photographer, you witness the world. When you’re a writer, you celebrate the world. When you’re a painter, you f****** see the world! This is what painting did for me.”

© Copyright Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC. 2016. All rights reserved.

IDENTITY: a series…

Scott Norman wearing a uniform and holding a gun in "The Wars of Other Men" by Mike Zawacki.Story 1: Two artists uncomfortable with the “actor” label share their views on identity because they are both so much more.

"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult book cover "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead book cover

Story 2:
Authors Colson Whitehead, who’s black, and Jodi Picoult, who is white, address notions of identity in “The Underground Railroad” and “Small Great Things,” painfully convincing novels focused on race and racial injustice.

This story: See more of Jay Asquini’s paintings on his Tumblr page.

Story 4: Life, not production, makes an artist.

Coming soon: The advent of digital photography forces a difficult decision.

How do you keep moving forward after a setback? Share your views. Comment below

You call yourself a what? Acting identity inherent in local artists

By Ron Bernas


“I’m an actor.”

It’s a phrase that can stick in an artist’s throat. It seems like a statement that has to be earned. But how? Is it something you say after your first paid gig? After you get an agent? Or are you always an actor, and you just sometimes get paid for it?

Two artists recently shared their views on that subject and, it seems, they are both kind of uncomfortable with the “actor” label. Perhaps it’s because they are both so much more.

Scott Norman, 47, is a face you might have seen on television, where he had parts in the short-lived “Detroit 1-8-7” and “Low Winter Sun,” both Detroit-based police dramas. He’s also appeared in independent films like “Street Kings 2” and “Detroit Unleaded.”

scott norman.jpg

Scott Norman

Scott’s path to acting was circuitous, though it had always been in the back of his mind. He was living in Japan and working as an English teacher. His students were attracted to his passion and animation and told him he should be an actor. It was something he had thought about for years, but didn’t pursue until he left Japan to move to New York where he started studying to be an actor.

He came to Michigan at the urging of an old friend who said the state had a thriving, fledgling movie industry. Today, he works in tech support (what he calls his “jobby job”) while he attends classes at the Motion Picture Institute, with his eyes on the goal of acting.

“I found I was not having control over the availability of roles,” he says. “So I’m at the institute to learn how to write and produce projects that I could then act in.”

Acting, he says, is a part of his identity, but he only calls himself an actor when he’s looking for acting work, rehearsing or performing. “But you’re always an actor because you’re always observing people and building understanding of other people that you use to build characters,” he said. “I’m an actor because of all the parts of my personality and my experiences.”

He likes, instead, the label “artist,” explaining it this way: “We’re all artists in a way. It’s in our nature to create and express ourselves. It’s how we choose to express ourselves—sculptor, musician—that brings labels. But the active medium is the audience and your relationship to them.”

“Artist” is also the preferred term by Maria Kelly, 52, a former teacher and professor of education who is pursuing an acting career that she had put on the back burner while she raised children.

maria kelly.jpg

Maria Kelly

“If by ‘actor’ you mean someone who is paid to act, they yes, I’ve been an actor because that’s how I paid the bills at one point,” she says. But she adds she thinks “theater artist” is a more apt term because she also worked as a director and choreographer when she worked, as a young woman, for two small professional theater companies in Minnesota.

Anyway, “acting” can be a relative term, when working for small theater groups.

“We had this big bunny costume and we would offer our services at parties and events,” she says. “So, if by acting, you mean performing a part for an audience, yeah, we did that, too. We called it ‘bunny slut’ work and it helped pay the rent.”

She worked steadily in commercials, industrial videos, print and voice-over work. “It wasn’t Shakespeare and it didn’t feel nice.

When she was married and children came along she shifted to teaching and cut back on acting. She didn’t even seek parts in the active (unpaid) community theater community. “I felt I needed to justify the time away from my family, so anything I took had to, you know, at least pay for the gas there and back.”

A recent move to Michigan, and grown children having left the nest, Maria finds she is in a position to pick up where she left off so many years ago.  She is has jumped into the community theater scene in metro Detroit and accepted a role as an understudy with the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea.

“I want to have the experience,” she says. “There are so many quality groups in the area that I’m looking forward to exploring them.”

In the meantime, she’s discovering another artistic skill: She’s been bit by the pottery bug after taking a local class. Maria sees it as merely an extension, or another aspect of her personality.

“Creative people tend to find outlets for sanity’s sake,” she said. “Because if they don’t have that creative outlet, they end up making the people around them crazy. Finding other creative outlets just sort of happens.”

Ron Bernas is an actor, playwright and Detroit area freelance writer and editor.

©Ron Bernas [2016] and Wildemere Publishing LLC.


 This story: Learn more about Scott Norman

                                                "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult book cover"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead book cover

Story 2:  Authors Colson Whitehead, who’s black, and Jodi Picoult, who is white, address notions of identity in “The Underground Railroad” and “Small Great Things,” painfully convincing novels focused on race and racial injustice.

Jay_ThenandNow2Story 3: Years after suffering a crushing accident, a photographer finds new passion.

Story 4: Life, not production, makes an artist.

Coming soon: The advent of digital photography forces a difficult decision.

We’d love to know your views. Comment below…