COOS BAY — Shinan Barclay, published writer, artist, and teacher, will be the guest presenter at the regular meeting of the Bay Area Artists Association at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20. Members and guests meet at Coos Art Museum in the upstairs classroom, 235 Anderson Street downtown Coos Bay. Guests are welcome.
Shinan will tell of her adventures while living among the Inupiat Eskimos, who inhabited a tiny Alaskan village, 30 miles above the Arctic Circle. With photos of native renderings and her arctic art, she will include a “hands-on” activity for members and guests to create their idea of circumpolar art. Shinan will furnish materials and asks participants to bring their scissors and glue. She advises, “Dress for mess and fun!”
A devout Catholic, at the age of 19, Shinan answered the call from a Jesuit priest who was seeking volunteers to assist his mission school. He had placed an ad in her college newspaper: “Arctic Priest Seeks Volunteers.” “Like a bolt of lightning, that headline knocked me out my chair. I knew I had to go,” she says. “I knew it was my calling!”
Her book “Arctic Adventures” is a collection of heart-warming experiences that took place three years after Alaska statehood and a decade before the Alaskan pipeline. In her desire to help others, she left her parent’s home in Southern California and traveled to America’s last frontier. There she integrated herself into the ways and traditions of a strange, new culture, endured extreme weather, and learned a new way of being — the interconnection of humans, nature, and spirit. She tells of surviving the horrifying experience of falling through the ice, and how it left her with insights beyond the physical, making her a more compassionate person.
Her memoir stories appear in numerous magazines and anthologies as well as in volumes of the Chicken Soup for The Soul series. Her stories have been translated into six languages. For the last four years, Shinan has written an inspiring monthly column on gardening, the Oregon Coast, or other adventures for the Oregon Senior News. “Readers call and thank me for the positive, uplifting ideas, and some invite me to lunch.”
In 1982 she was awarded a master’s degree from the University of Humanities Studies in San Diego. There she covered and wrote about art openings at the San Diego Museum of Modern Art and met notable authors Maurice Sendak and Dr. Suess.
In recent months Shinan has initiated and hosts a television show on Channel 192 titled, “Conversations on Creativity.” The show’s format consists of interviews with community authors, artists, and other area creatives who contribute their talents in service to others. She says, “I intend to put positive energy into the airways.” The show is the result of Shinan asking her Higher Power, “What can I — one person, a grannie — do to help the world situation.” Shinan says, “When I am at peace, I can give peace to the world. The only person we can change is our self.”
Ms. Barclay teaches Nature Writing at Southwestern Oregon Community College and tutors International students, helping them develop their writing skills.
In answer to my question of what she would like to do next, her reply was, “Find a publisher for my books, and paint large canvases of native people.”
Bay Area Artists Association meets every third Thursday of each month at the Coos Art Museum at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. For more information, go to: www.bayareaartistsassociation.org.