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A community’s treasures

Visionaries in the realm of art and political/economic thought, Jenny Andersen (top) and David Korten will be honored as this year’s Island Treasures. - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
Visionaries in the realm of art and political/economic thought, Jenny Andersen (top) and David Korten will be honored as this year’s Island Treasures.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

Jenny Andersen and David Korten are honored for their art and vision.

For displaying “a powerful sense of community” through their respective work with clay and with words, sculptor Jenny Andersen and author David C. Korten have been named Bainbridge Island Treasures for 2005.

News of the prestigious local Arts and Humanities Council award came as a surprise to Andersen and Korten. They were chosen in a secret, double-blind juried process.

“It was all very mysterious,” Korten said, of a meeting that award chair Cynthia Sears requested at his Winslow home, to deliver the news. “And such an honor.”

When Sears stopped by Andersen’s century-old farmhouse unannounced, the artist thought it was for a social visit. They chatted for a time, and then the award was revealed, prompting Andersen to burst into tears.

“I feel so blessed to live in a community like this, where an Island Treasures Award exists and where the arts and humanities are supported and thrive,” Andersen said. “If I had landed anywhere else, my life would be very different.

“You don’t survive as an artist very long unless you have people to support you in lots of ways.”

Established in 1999, the Island Treasure Awards “recognize and acknowledge our natural resources in the arts and humanities.” Each comes with a $3,000 gift. The awards will be presented in an invitation-only ceremony Jan. 30 at IslandWood.

The artist

Andersen has been creating pottery and sculpture on the island for 25 years, drawing inspiration from the earth and pottery of ancient artisans around the world, particularly Asia.

She’s also shared her talents with Bainbridge youth, teaching them how to make vessels on the potter’s wheel. And she’s the coordinator of the Empty Bowls Project, in which local school children make bowls for a simple meal of bread and soup, sold to raise funds for Helpline House.

Through her art and her teaching, Andersen has “touched countless lives, inspiring people to live more creatively and artfully,” said the two-page nomination on her behalf.

The artist was also praised for “letting her environment guide her,” developing glazes from minerals found on Bainbridge, and working with clay dug at Fort Ward, not far from her home.

Andersen prefers working “in collaboration with nature,” and enjoys creating art in which the forces outside her control – such as the fire and ash from the wood-fired kiln – add color, markings and patina to her clay pieces.

Her artwork – plump jars with elegant handles, intricate ceramic boxes, and horn-shaped cups configured with the lifelike faces of birds – is meant to move people, she said, and to evoke a story, even if that story is different from what the artist intended.

“If a piece can’t draw stories out of a person, it’s not a good piece,” she said. “It should have some intrigue.”

That doesn’t mean that the artist has to create something entirely new every time she puts her hands on a piece of clay, she said.

“Originality is not what I am after,” she said, “but a quality that puts people in touch with the magnificence of human creativity.”

What she hopes from her art, she said, is that it enriches the life of the person who views it.

“I know how I have been enriched – I have paintings and sculptures that enrich my life every day. I don’t have any big message – it’s more personal than that. If my pieces can enrich in a small way, I’m happy about that.”

The author

Korten, who moved to Bainbridge Island from New York City eight years ago, also draws considerable inspiration from his environment.

While living near Wall Street, he wrote the international best-seller “When Corporations Rule the World,” considered the bible of the anti-globalization movement, which culminated in headline-grabbing World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999.

The book “appeared at exactly the right time,” said Korten, a leading lecturer on the subject. “And yet, as that analysis became more refined, it became clear to many of us that critique alone, analysis alone, was not enough. You had to come up with a different sensibility and options for a post-corporate world.”

The person who nominated Korten as an Island Treasure called him “a leader of a profoundly important wave of change,” who inspires others “to hold a vision of hope in the face of growing threats to real democracy.”

Korten is now writing “Beyond Empire: The Step to Earth Community,” about resisting U.S.-led corporate globalization, which the author believes values profits over people.

The book will outline new frameworks for economic alternatives promoting just, sustainable and cooperative ways of living, he said.

Korten also chairs the Bainbridge-based Positive Futures Network, which publishes Yes! Magazine.

He is a contributing writer for the magazine and his wife Fran is the network’s executive director.

Korten said Bainbridge Island has proven to be an ideal place to nourish his work and the vision that he and his wife share.

The couple, married 43 years, loves to host salon discussions at their home, particularly when a leader in politics or the anti-globalization movement comes to visit.

From New York to Bainbridge, Korten said, “We have gone from the belly of the beast to the heartland of ecotopia. Bainbridge Island is becoming the center of communications about how we as humans might live life a different way and organize our institutions differently.

“Bainbridge Island is the first place we’ve lived together for more than five years. This feels settled, like our home for the first time.”

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