Tracy Tayama Brady lives by a maxim from one of her favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert: “Art is not one magical thing—it’s the act of creating.”
Though Tayama (who uses her maiden name as an artist) has made art since she can remember, it’s only now with two kids and a career as a child psychologist that she’s in a place to understand what it means to be an artist.
As she lists her proudest achievement, Semarhy Quiñones-Soto doesn’t mention her Ph.D. in microbiology or her published coloring book depicting diverse women in science, tech, engineering and math. She doesn’t even cite her job as a biological sciences lecturer at Sacramento State.
Instead, she returns to when she was a teenager and her mother allowed her into a lab at the University of Puerto Rico and let the youngster clean the autoclave—an expensive sterilization machine.
“I love greenery, exercising, fresh air, sunshine, going outside and being with nature,” she says. “I’m a tree hugger. That’s who I am—that’s what my life experience has made me.”
Warda’s love of nature is more than aesthetic. She’s thankful to walk, much less hug a tree.
At age 26, the native of Poland was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints and makes them painful and swollen. Determined not to be in a wheelchair, she took matters into her own hands.
An image of a fern emerges from the darkness like a majestic shadow. Delicate legs of a lily of the Nile float on the plane as though submerged. Leaves of bamboo shudder out of focus on a field of blue and green.
These dreamy botanical images are the work of Linda Clark Johnson, a multimedia artist who specializes in cyanotype, one of the oldest forms of photography. English botanist Anna Atkins pioneered the process in the 1840s to document botanicals. Scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel used the technique to create 19th century blueprints.
When Evan Harris sees a downed tree, he doesn’t see destruction. He sees art.
The owner of Truwood Builders is an expert at urban log salvage, rescuing wood from trees that have been downed by wind or removed due to disease. He turns outcasts into beautiful pieces of custom furniture.
“We don’t take the trees down. We intercept the logs before they get cut up and disposed of,” he says, explaining his environmentally friendly alternative to breaking logs down for firewood or a landfill.
Carol Manson is a singer who soars. Her clear, joyful voice and playful musicianship suggests she’s been singing jazz her whole life. The truth is, she almost never became a singer.
Growing up in Berkeley, Manson played violin and piano, and sang in her high school choir. But music fell by the wayside when she went to college, earned a master’s degree in social work, got married and began a career in state service. She spent years as a foster youth advocate and eventually received a governor’s appointment.
A health challenge in 2004 made her reconsider everything.