By Kathy Brown.
The KWO collaborated with the Killingworth Library, as well as the Killingworth Historical Society, to schedule events all year long to celebrate the centennial of women’s right to vote. Nancy McCormick, the current KWO president as well as the chair of the KWO Suffragist Committee, presented the idea of an art show to the KWO. “The original plan was to have artwork from the women of Killingworth on display in various places around Killingworth,” explained Genie Dethloff. “The exhibit was moved online due to COVID-19”; the exhibit is accessible HERE.
The Killingworth Women’s Organization, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, was founded in 2003, and joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs later that year, according to Genie. There are, on average, between 40 and 50 women in the organization.
The KWO is a community service organization of women volunteers “dedicated to helping others in Killingworth and to building a stronger sense of community,” said Genie. They raise funds during the year and have various events and committees working on a variety of interests:
- They give out an annual scholarship for a community-minded Killingworth woman who is heading toward college.
- They educate on domestic violence and also donate to an area women’s shelter.
- They send care packages to local service members and their families.
- They organize and host Trunk or Treat (a safe/fun venue for Trick or Treating at Halloween)
- They host a Holiday Gift Drive
- They run Santa’s mailbox in Killingworth
They also try to respond to the community’s needs as they arise. For instance, explained Genie, “During the pandemic, one new program we offered was a food shopping and delivery service for people who were not comfortable with or able to go to the grocery store.” KWO is also taking over the management of the Helping Hands food pantry.
This week, we’re going to spotlight three artists, who are participating in the online art show, who work in three different mediums.
Lisa Helene Goetze-Keiser has always loved art, and works with acrylics with a “whimsical” style. “It was the ONE thing I did well or had any confidence in from a very young age,” said Lisa. “I was always involved in advanced art programs throughout my education and eventually got a degree in fine art.” She works full time and paints for fun.
“I tend to let my mood and music steer me and often the colors I use are pulled at random, on a whim,” she explains. “I paint what puts a smile in MY heart and trust that it will do the same for another.”
Lisa and her husband moved to Connecticut from New Jersey back in 2007, and purchased their home in Killingworth in 2009 “after falling in love with it,” said Lisa. “It was the perfect peaceful woodland home we’d been looking for.” They built a barn and have rescue donkeys, as well as a dog. She and her husband love animals, and they can often be found as subjects in her art.
She joined KWO shortly after moving to Killingworth so that she could meet people and make friends, “but KWO brought into my life a whole new level of sisterhood among non-related women, who had nothing in common from the outside looking in,” explained Lisa. “Rather it sparked the realization of more similarities than differences no matter what was visible or perceived from the outside and our backgrounds.”
On women’s right to vote, Lisa said, “It’s difficult to grasp that I’ll be 50 in 2022, but even harder to fathom the idea that women only got the right to vote just 100 years ago. I was raised by a single mom who empowered my sister and me to be independent, self-sufficient, strong and capable. I think inherently I never questioned a woman’s ‘power’ so I never thought about our suppression. I was raised to believe I was better and just as capable than any man!”
On art, Lisa said, “Every painting is a personal expression of ME. Somewhat of a baby I’ve birthed but more so because I actually had full control of the creation from concept to finish. And that’s a powerful feeling, to create something so personal and put it out there for public criticism; but when a stranger comes along and makes a connection to something I created? Touching a person’s soul through art is as priceless as the creative process itself!”
If you would like to see more of her art, check out her website.
Kelly Leach, on the other hand, works in photography. “I have never considered myself an artist although most of my career I’ve been a graphic artist and web designer,” said Kelly. “I took up amateur photography in my 20s.” She’s a social worker currently.
She explains that because she doesn’t filter or edit her photographs, “it takes me hundreds of photographs to find one I will share with others.”
She works in digital photography, and she explains that “one can approach the same medium and even the same subject and have it seen a myriad of ways. My lighting or cropping requirements may be the polar opposite of what another photographer looks for in a great shot.”
Kelly and her husband have lived in Killingworth for 21 years. They looked for a place to settle by driving all over the state. “Killingworth is the place that felt right to both of us and had a home that met our needs at the time. We moved into our ‘starter’ home and have not left.”
Though she says that moving here was one of the best things to happen to her, she didn’t know anyone here and was not outgoing. “So I worked up the courage to join the Killingworth Women’s Organization in 2006 and am lucky to have made amazing friends and a broad network of people.”
On voting, Kelly says, “The most powerful message I have seen is an illustrated image with an early 20th century woman who talks about how hard they worked to get us the right to vote. I am angered by how apathetic some women are about voting rights these days. The choices of candidates is not always perfect and it may feel like one vote means nothing, but I believe if one is capable, they should make every effort to choose their politicians. It honors those who worked so hard to get this opportunity.”
Joan Gay, our third artist, works in clay, has been an artist since the 1970’s. She has studied with famous potters such as English potter, Mick Casson, and U.S. potters Karen Karnes, Cynthia Bringle, and Toshiko Takaezu. She was a “Key Member” of Wesleyan Potters in Middletown as well.
“To take a lump of clay and transform it into something has never ceased to amaze me,” said Joan. “The process makes you focus completely and, for me, it was a kind of meditation where the only thing that mattered was the ‘pot’ – everything else just melted away.”
Joan and her husband have lived in Killingworth since 1968. They were looking for homes near the shoreline, got lost, and stopped at Don Doster’s Realty to ask for directions. “Don took us around Killingworth and sold us on the town!”
If you’re a woman from Killingworth and would like your art shown in the virtual art show, please use the form on this page.
All women in Killingworth (and surrounding towns) are welcome to join the KWO.
Art included here is with permission from the artists.