So of course, we were thrilled to be approached by professor and artist Christopher Nadaskay about a project he had in mind, and his desire to use his gifts to benefit our work at Advance Memphis.
Last year, Prof. Nadaskay was an artist featured in our annual Art For Jobs fundraiser. He approached us shortly after about a solo installation and sale that he wanted to put together in support of us. In the span of just a few short months, he has created 1,000 individual pieces of art in the form of hand-made crosses.
In his artist’s statement, Nadaskay explains:
“The overarching principle behind the exhibit is the idea that an individual artist can and should produce work for the benefit of others. It is my intention that this exhibit is used for the betterment of anyone who sees it – emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. The crosses are to be sold with the proceeds going directly to Advance Memphis. It places art into the hands of a public who may never appreciate it as such and beauty into those same hands. It allows for the exploration of a huge number of creative visual problems and then helps to provide substance for those in need.
The idea for this exhibit/sale came from my desire to promulgate the concept of the social responsibility of the artist to the people that surround them in their particular segment of culture. The art world has become a place where political activism, influential social connections, and monetary gain direct the career paths of artists, to the detriment of the more positive influences that art can have on a culture. With this show, it is my intention to make art that is accessible to the average person, has a positive, hopeful message and from which the proceeds will directly be used to constructively impact society. Each cross, in a sense, represents a pardon. This brought to mind a relatively common phrase in our culture ‘A thousand pardons,’ meaning ‘I beg your pardon;’ it is a quote that comes from a 1931 movie starring Charlie Chan (Black Camel). It really has nothing to do with the movie, but as it was a little catchy and seemed appropriate to the message, the title was born.
The crosses are made in the same manner that I pursue my normal studio work, color and texture playing a huge role in their perception. It is only natural that influences from that artwork show up in a variety of ways in them.”
The artist would like to thank: Union University for its very generous support of the project through a teaching sabbatical grant, studio space, materials and kiln/firing time; Kathryn Pelley and Ragan Williamson, his studio assistants for the project – without whom much of this would not have been possible; and additional thanks should go to Crosstown Arts, Advance Memphis for their wonderful support and assistance in making the project a reality
We hope you will join us for the reception and sale of this monumental work on Thursday, March 30th, at Crosstown Arts. The event will be held from 4pm-9pm, pieces will be available for purchase for $15, and Chris Nadaskay will give a brief artist’s lecture. RSVP on Facebook!
For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Bethany Stout at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Artist:
Christopher Nadaskay is an artist and Professor of Art at Union University where he has served for 24 years. He is a graduate of Southern Arkansas University and Texas A&M Commerce where he received his B.A. and M.F.A. in Painting/ Mixed Media respectively. His mediums have included watercolor, oils, acrylics, mixed media and various sculpture mediums. Working at the moment in mixed media/ceramic wall relief, he is interested in the relationship between technology and the human condition. He has works in several collections, including the Tennessee State Museum.
Over the past 12 years, Advance Memphis has utilized soft-skills job training to help people get to work. From 2005 to 2015, we used a curriculum from an organization called Jobs for Life. Two years ago, Advance Memphis and the Chalmers Center for Economic Development worked with Jobs for Life to co-publish a new jobs-training curriculum called Work Life, specifically designed for communities suffering from the effects of multi-generational poverty. Since the completion of the curriculum, Advance Memphis and the Chalmers Center have partnered to train churches and ministries in Work Life, and Advance now runs an annual training for new Work Life Facilitators. Advance Memphis is deeply grateful for this partnership with Jobs for Life and the Chalmers Center that has spanned many years. We are also grateful for the many churches and organizations that are engaged in this work around our nation.
Work Life is a biblically integrated job and life-skills curriculum designed specifically for low-income adults. Through Work Life, churches and non-profits can assist the materially poor in developing crucial skills for flourishing in their careers and communities. While Work Life covers typical jobs-readiness topics like interviewing skills and understanding what employers want, the curriculum goes deeper and engages participants in God’s grand story for their lives. Participants, Allies, and Instructors walk together in relationships, uncovering how to live all of life, including work, in light of that story. Naming gifts, developing communication skills, healing from the past, and overcoming difficult roadblocks are all topics addressed in interactive, participatory ways throughout the curriculum. The $350 training package equips you to walk with your low-income neighbors over time, leading to lasting transformation. Register here.
Becoming a Work Life facilitator prepares you to:
Start Work Life classes in your community by:
The Work Life Facilitator Training costs $350 at the early bird rate and $400 after May 21st. The training will take place in two stages. The online portion will begin June 5; live training will take place July 14th and 15th at Advance Memphis. Register here.
Interested in auditing? If you’re considering whether Work Life is right for your group or you have team members who would benefit from some training (though they won’t be facilitating), consider auditing. Participants may audit the online portion of training for $25. This does not include the live training and will not result in certification. Email Bryce Stout at email@example.com with questions about auditing.
The Value of Stories
As we at Advance Memphis walk in relationships with our neighbors, one thing that we continually recognize is the importance of stories. Each person on Advance’s staff, each volunteer, and each neighbor has a particular story, which includes the gifts God has created us for, our pains and joys, our desires, our relationships, and so much more. Because we value relationships so deeply at Advance— in fact, we think that relationships are at the very center of God’s design for our lives— we are always looking to participate in each other’s stories. In our Work Life curriculum, we spend two full lessons talking about the importance of acknowledging and dealing with things in our past (our story) in order to move forward into God’s design for our lives.
On Day 6 of Work Life, the class gathers together for a time of sharing and listening. It takes a lot of bravery and trust to open up to each other and put it all on the table, the good and the bad. Consequently, this time of sharing life stories is consistently the most difficult and impactful part of each Work Life class. The result is an opportunity to look into each other’s lives and see deeper than the sorrows, joys, pain, and growth – it is an opportunity to see God at work, to learn from each other, and to begin participating in each other’s stories.
Acknowledging Our Collective Story
In the month of February, we want to acknowledge the fact that, though individual stories are important, there are larger Stories that affect each of us deeply. To be sure, we are all part of a grand story of cosmic redemption that God is working out on this earth, healing the effects of sin and brokenness all around us. More particularly, the month of February is a time to focus and highlight some parts of our shared story as Americans that is too often glossed over in history books, and dangerously ignored in our conversations about our collective story. Black History Month calls us to acknowledge and inculcate stories of amazing accomplishment against all odds; stories of deep, soul-wrenching pain; stories of success stomped out by sinister systems; stories of beauty and flourishing; all stories that have black people at their center. We must be open to listen to both the heroism and the hurt as we hear the history.
“The problem occurs when we cover [our stories] up, try to ignore the pain, and live as though these things did not happen.” Each of our Work Life students hears this in Lesson 3, as we begin to look at our past. The Church needs to hear this, too. We hope that the Church, both black and white, will take time this month to listen to our black brothers’ and sisters’ stories from the distant and the recent past in order to be more knowledgeable and maybe even more empathetic participants in our own—and each other’s—stories.
Looking Back: A Story to Listen To
Let us offer one example, from John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation Hope. John Hope Bryant explains in his book How the Poor Can Save Capitalism, how President Abraham Lincoln began the Freedman’s Savings Bank shortly after the end of the Civil War, in order to help empower former slaves who desired to enter into the economy. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated shortly thereafter and the new president, Andrew Johnson, had vastly different stances on black empowerment. Bryant notes, “At its height, the Freedman’s Savings Bank had seventy thousand depositors, all of whom were formerly enslaved. Unfortunately, due in large part to the destructive efforts of Johnson and the mismanagement and gaming of the bank that followed, the bank ultimately did fail, and every depositor lost his or her money. All of it. This may be part of the reason that black Americans and other disadvantaged groups do not trust banks and the government today.”
W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in the early 1900’s of the crash of the Freedmen’s Bank, “All the hard-earned dollars of the freedmen disappeared; but that was the least of the loss—all the faith in saving went too, and much of the faith in men; and that was a loss that a Nation which today sneers at Negro shiftlessness has never yet made good. Not even ten additional years of slavery could have done so much to throttle the thrift of the freedmen as the mismanagement and bankruptcy of the [Freedmen’s Bank].” Du Bois demonstrates in an almost-prophetic manner the incredible effect that this Historical Event—an intimate piece of our Nation’s Story—had on the trust of former slaves in financial institutions, and on the perceptions of black people in the eyes of the Nation.
Moving Forward: Participate in Others’ Stories
Without listening to our Story—even the parts we wish we could ignore—we cannot move forward. Advance Memphis desires to continue to build relationships every day that help us to be a part of each other’s stories as we walk together in God’s design for our lives. During Black History Month, we wanted to take a moment to recall one episode in our Nation’s Story that affects people to this day, and to encourage the Church to learn more about our history—our stories—so that we can all take steps to move toward healing.
This healing will be impossible without listening and participation. At Advance, we seek to take time to listen to our neighbors, and when we do this, we find that we truly learn. It’s our human tendency to speak our minds. But how can we learn without taking time to genuinely listen? In this vein, we encourage both white people and black people in the Church to enter into long-term relationships with each other—come volunteer at Advance, or visit a local church where you are in the minority, or invite somebody into your home that has a very different story than you do. May God help us to begin actively participating in each other’s stories; when we do this, we will reflect his Kingdom in more deep and beautiful ways.
 John Hope Bryant, How the Poor can Save Capitalism (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2014), 62.
 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1994), 22-23.
As our neighbors pursue their professional and educational goals, having these supplies available to them is a great help. Anytime in the month of February, we are collecting:
Can’t collect supplies, but still want to help? You can donate online by clicking the button below:Donate Now
This is a great opportunity to organize a group, collect donations together, and share the mission and vision of Advance Memphis with your friends. Interested in being a team leader for collecting these items in your small group, Sunday school class or workplace? Contact Cindy – firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
A launch graduate from our November 2015 class, we are very proud of Ashley Gladney and the work that her business, Mobile Mommy, has been doing. We caught up with her to talk about what got her interested in this business, how she wants to grow, and more…
Ashley Gladney: It’s been a dream for years. When I was a teenager working as a babysitter, I began to see that there was an actual babysitting industry, and I knew I wanted to start a babysitting service when I got older.
Advance Memphis: What has surprised you most about being a small business owner?
Ashley Gladney: The feedback I’ve been getting about the idea. I didn’t think people would think this was such a big deal, but the positive feedback has been overwhelming and I’m excited to see where it goes.
Advance Memphis: What is the best part of running your own business?
Ashley Gladney: Having the freedom to work for myself—it’s rewarding to work for myself, build a brand, and build my own company. It’s a good feeling. I love the thought that one day I will be working for myself, through something I built from the ground up.
Advance Memphis: What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Ashley Gladney: Having to be and do everything. I have good employees, but trying to catch up with them and see if they can do a job, along with managing everything myself, can be difficult.
Advance Memphis: Where would you like to see Mobile Mommy go in the future?
Ashley Gladney: One day, I would like to see Mobile Mommy in as many cities and states as possible. I would like for Mobile Mommy to be well known and mentioned among the best child care companies. I would like for many mothers, as well as student parents, to benefit from Mobile Mommy. It’s really good when my clients tell me how much Mobile Mommy is a benefit to them. One client said to me how much Mobile Mommy benefitted their marriage. Another has told me, “I don’t know what I would do without Mobile Mommy.”
Advance Memphis: What makes Mobile Mommy different from other childcare options?
Ashley Gladney: Mobile Mommy is up close and personal. Mobile Mommy is also very convenient, and high quality. Most of my sitters are retired mothers and grandmothers, and a few are retired teachers and nurses. The quality of my sitters is different and stands out—they are experienced and educated.
Advance Memphis: Is there anything else you would want people to know about Mobile Mommy?
Ashley Gladney: Stay tuned because I plan to grow my business services to help specifically with college student parents soon.
Ashley has also recently been featured on Channel 13 News to talk about her business. You can watch her interviews here and here.
With consistent 5 star reviews on her business, Ashley has taken her heart for Children and transformed it into a thriving business. You can read testimonials about her company here .
We are excited to watch Ashley and Mobile Mommy continue to grow! If you are in need of personalized, high-quality child care, please contact Ashley by emailing email@example.com, calling 901-265-0631, or learn more on her website yourmobilemommy.com
Here at Advance Memphis, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to witness so often the transformation that happens when genuine relational interaction takes place between our neighbors and others who live in different circumstances. These interactions are not transactional encounters; rather, they go beyond relief to create real empathy and understanding. Recently we had the opportunity to join our neighbors in the 38126 neighborhood and employees of SouthernSun Asset Management in a “Cost of Poverty Experience” (COPE) simulation, which occurred in the Advance Memphis Warehouse. Advance Memphis graduates volunteered to role-play neighborhood institutions, while SouthernSun employees played roles of people in poverty.
A SouthernSun employee described the experience: “During each week [the simulation included four 15 minute “weeks”], you had to complete what seem like simple tasks, such as going to the grocery store, paying rent, and getting to and from work (if you are fortunate enough to have a job). These roles turned out to be much more stressful than I anticipated. Trying to prioritize what had to be taken care of first to not lose your home or job was a struggle… It was a very overwhelming hour.” She also noted, “There were many circumstances that arose that put people in a place to make difficult decisions to provide for their families.”
During the event, we were able to see some light bulbs go off and see our neighbors learn and teach others about what it is like to live in poverty. Here are some of the thoughts from our neighbors who chose to volunteer to be a part of the COPE simulation:
“[The simulation] shows the reality of so many people in the community: just because you have a job doesn’t mean that everything will be easy. “- J. Reeves
“It really is something that we in the urban community deal with. [We] helped people see what poverty feels like and that it is not a myth but what many people deal with every day”- A. Williams
“I liked that… we were able help people see just for a moment what we go through every day” -J. Reeves
“I think we should do it every class to help others not just judge from the outside”- Q. Pitchford
And from a SouthernSun employee:
“It was a beautiful experience to witness this vast group of people come together and empathize with one another while also discussing what one could do going forward to help alleviate poverty.”
So often in America we break down society into categories such as the “haves” and the “have-nots,” but the reality is that we are all in need because poverty goes beyond material possessions. Our hope here at Advance is that, through fiercely loving our neighbors, providing services for sustainability, and engaging people with the truth of the gospel, we will help enable our neighbors in 38126 not only to feel advocated for, but to contribute to changing 38126 and the city of Memphis.
As 2016 ends, the staff members of Advance Memphis are grateful to be serving the Lord by empowering our neighbors in 38126 to move into financial security through the multiplied efforts of almost 300 volunteers and dozens of donors who have joined us in this work.
Below you will see just a few tangible outcomes that only scratch the surface of how God has been transforming lives in our community. The outcomes that are more difficult to quantify are things like: A 40-year-old man who opens his first bank account to start his matched savings account; the woman who has stopped drinking; the man who can now support his children with dignity by working; the woman who earned her GED; and the man who has regained his driver’s license.
Renewal in 38126 takes many forms, and while this outcomes report shows just one year of our work, the transformation of our neighborhood and the empowerment of our neighbors is a process.
HEALING: This year we saw a graduate of our 2014 Jobs-For-Life ( now called Work-Life) program find stability and success in a position after years of battling to find and sustain employment. After two different temporary assignments working through Advance Memphis Staffing in temp-to hire positions, this individual had been let go both times due to failing drug tests. While he was on mandatory suspension he began attending OTC (Overcoming Through Christ) weekly meetings at Advance. After a second suspension, his presence in became OTC mandatory. After that, he never missed a weekly meeting and volunteered his time cleaning the building and helping out with refurbishing our new warehouse at 575 Suzette. He continues to make weekly OTC meetings and is currently participating in a paid apprenticeship program with yet another temporary staffing customer. This individual started his current assignment in June, 2016 and has maintained perfect attendance – winning our $50 reward on two separate occasions. We continue to pray for his success and often recognize him as a role model for others who are struggling with sobriety. He has never given up his desire of being drug free and working to sustain his financial needs.
COLLABORATING: We also have seen relationships blossom with our volunteers and graduates working together, forming lifelong friendships, and even business partnerships. Two volunteers worked together to find particularly creative ways to contribute to the development of a LAUNCH business. Not only did they contribute significant time to mentor a LAUNCH graduate; they decided that they could most effectively support his business by using their own vocational resources. Namely, these volunteers used their skills and connections to train this graduate to write bids for commercial properties, and then contracted his business to work on properties they manage, becoming his first major customer. This creative, relational engagement is worth so much more than a monetary gift; it is more difficult and complex, but it truly changes the game for one of our neighbors.
Want to join us? Here are a few ways to partner in this work:
10. 192+ pieces of art from 55+ artists!
…and we’re still working. Prices range from $20 to $4000, so there’s something for everyone. 7 artists have created 8×8 free-standing artist’s walls: some are murals, some feature as many as 12 pieces of art. We’ve cataloged some of the art here, much more is available!
ALL OF MORGAN’S WORK FOR ART FOR JOBS 2016 CAN BE SEEN IN THE ONLINE PREVIEW CATALOG.
“Many aspects of art interest Morgan. He doesn’t claim any one favorite medium, but his specialties include sculpture, ceramics and painting. Upon graduating, Morgan doesn’t anticipate that his degree will change his status as an artist.” This quote from The Daily Helmsman in 2014, written as Morgan was wrapping up his bachelor of art degree at age 72, captures Don’s wide interests and down to earth spirit.
Morgan has been represented locally by Perry Nicole, Harrington Brown, David Smith Gallery, and has several pieces in the LeBonheur collection.
“Christopher Nadaskay is the University Professor of Art at Union University and an artist focusing primarily on mixed-media, using a variety of materials and textures in his exploration of cultural critiques and societal legacies. As a self-proclaimed science-fiction fan, Nadaskay often incorporates aspects of the genre’s futuristic musings into his conviction-fueled paintings and sculptures.” Read the rest of the article by Joseph Smith in the Jackson Sun.
Chris is contributing for the second time to Art for Jobs and is preparing an early spring show of his work that will benefit Advance. The crosses seen at left are representative of a series of 1000 that he is creating, to be shown and sold at Crosstown.