Recycled Dresses and Papier-mâché Messes

Meet Olivia Mears.

Olivia in 2015's Wrapping Paper Dress

Olivia in Avant-Geek 2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress

I met Olivia at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It was a rainy day and we spent the entire day touring the inside of the Biltmore. We spent the previous day touring the grounds and other areas of the Biltmore Estate. My husband, four year old son, and I were exhausted as we rode on the shuttle back to the parking lot. And what do you know — a princess was waiting at the bus stop for the shuttle in a princess dress.  My son exclaimed, “Look Mama! There’s the princess who lives at the castle.”  It was a precious serendipitous moment and she added the perfect magic ending to our amazing day.

I invited her to share her profile with us. She is a very talented young lady and she is certainly going places. It is my pleasure to introduce you to our first Monday Muse Maker, Olivia of Avant-Geek.


I hope… Artists come in all shapes and sizes, presenting different forms of art. There will always be those who claim what they do is not art, or is a waste of time/materials. I’ve watched fellow artists become discouraged and leave their craft behind them. I hope I never give up on what I do. It is what I love to do and it brings smiles to people’s faces; I hope I never need anymore of a reason than that.

I wish… I wish to inspire more and more people. I feel that my artwork is something many people don’t think about doing themselves until they see it. I love getting messages from people who’ve been motivated to create their own wearable art/recycled dresses after seeing or hearing about mine.
I dream… I want to take on every request I receive, but I’m not quite skilled enough yet. One day, maybe I’ll be making dresses for Lady Gaga or Katy Perry! A girl can dream! 
I am…
Ambitious. Without ambition I wouldn’t push myself to create so many new pieces out of challenging materials.
Innovative. Show someone a pile of bottle caps and they may just see trash. I’m always looking at how to incorporate items like this into my work. It’s all about perspective!
Composed. I’m only 23 years-old, but I’ve already learned to not let negative emotions interfere with success. It’s difficult to not feel overwhelmed some days, but it’s necessary to keep a cool head and continue on. I think that’s the only reason I’m able to create new work so quickly; I just don’t think about how much I have left to do and suddenly it’s done! 
Three Things about Me:
I am from Laurinburg, NC, and am Western Carolina University alumni.
While my most common artwork deals with unconventional fashion, oil painting is my favorite medium (especially when I get to use my fingers).   

A Victorian Paper Dress (entirely paper and glue)

Dress by wall


A Paint Dress (acrylic and latex paint)


Picasso Dress (hand-painted card-stock and foam)


Toilet Paper Wedding dress (entirely from TP, glue, and tape). Photo courtesy of Charmin and Cheap Chic Weddings.


2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress


2015’s Wrapping Paper Dress

wrappingpaperdress_imgur (1)

2014’s Wrapping paper dress

You can find more of Olivia Mears’ work on her Facebook and Instagram pages.


If you would like to be featured for Monday Muse Makers, email me at or reply in the comments you are interested in being featured.  I will include links to your social media accounts and blog if you share them.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words




This week I am at Mills Park Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina leading a photography and creative writing residency, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. The students are having a blast taking digital photographs and writing about them. It is a very open ended residency as I do not give them a writing prompt. They have to create their own creative writing prompt from the photo they select. They have to take the photograph themselves. That is really the only rule. Some students are writing poetry. Some are writing non-fiction. The genres I have seen so far are creative nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, autobiography, essay, multi-genre, and even a marketing/advertising campaign.

I love being the Yes (wo)man and giving students permission to write outside the box. In fact, there is not even a box — not even a polygon.  They have created their own space and within it, they have created their own muse. It’s a beautiful thing. Kids are naturally creative and it is exciting to witness it in action. I will post a longer post after the residency. In the meantime, here are some photos of the students taking photos on campus.










Scope and Sequence







Close Reading


Right Angles
















What is Arts Integration?


“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.”

– Richard W. Riley, Former US Secretary of Education

“An elementary school that treats the arts as the province of a few gifted children, or views them only as recreation and entertainment, is a school that needs an infusion of soul. That arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”

   –William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education


“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imaginationto create.”

President Barack Obama


“In the push for quality math, science, technical, humanities, and other programs, please be sure that the arts are not ignored or pushed to one side. Provide your political support for the total curriculum. The arts enrich all of us.”

Dr. Richard Miller, Executive Director American Association of School Administrators

“. . . the arts have been an inseparable part of the human journey; indeed, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity. We value them for themselves, and because we do, we believe knowing and practicing them is fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. That is why, in any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.”

–National Standards for Arts Education

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
Steve Jobs, in introducing the iPad 2 in 2011

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities….the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.”

Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft


“The rapidly evolving global economy demands a dynamic and creative workforce. The arts and its related businesses are responsible for billions of dollars in cultural exports for this country. It is imperative that we continue to support the arts and arts education both on the national and local levels. The strength of every democracy is measured by its commitment to the arts.”–Charles Segars, CEO of Ovation
“We need people who think with the creative side of their brains—people who have played in a band, who have painted…it enhances symbiotic thinking capabilities, not always thinking in the same paradigm, learning how to kick-start a new idea, or how to get a job done better, less expensively.”

Annette Byrd, GlaxoSmithKline

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Steve Jobs, in introducing the iPad 2 in 2011

“A broad education in the arts helps give children a better understanding of their world…We need students who are culturally literate as well as math and science literate.”

–Paul Ostergard, Vice President, Citicorp

“Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.”

Joseph M. Calahan, Director of Cooperate Communications, Xerox Corporation


“GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.”

Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation

“I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century.”

Gerald Gordon, Ph.D., President/CEO, Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have lots of dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solution without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Steve Jobs