Submitted by Susan Grahame
Photo by Neil Grahame

One of the highlights of this year's December Celebration will be the presentation of "Breaking Bread". a performance piece based on the words and music from the theme song of Field of Flowers. Field of Flowers is a Heartwood video being created to stimulate critical thinking about the issue of domestic violence, and provide understanding and hope for a solution.

Artistic Director Jude Binder will be joined by Kathy Ames, Gina Burns, Casey Harris, Jennifer Law and Haley Smith for this performance. The music for the song "Breaking Bread" is by Ethel Caffie-Austin, internationally recognized gospel performer, choir director and teacher. Lyrics are by Jude Binder. The song "Breaking Bread" is sung by the Field of Flowers choir. The choir recorded the song in June, at the West Virginia Cultural Center, as part of the filming of the video. This 26-member choir, includes Heartwood board of directors, students and community members, as well as professional artists from throughout West Virginia. Heartwood and community choir members include Harry Beall, Robert Burns, Saylah Creelfox, Stephanie Curry, Kendra Curry, Cheryl Richards, Misty Richards, Haley Smith, Maria Termini, Frank Venezia, Brenda Wilson, Jennifer Mullinex, Elaine Wine and Ilene Evans.

The production of Field of Flowers began in 1996, as a collaborative effort by Heartwood and the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Coalition asked Heartwood to help create a tool that would depict the issue of domestic violence, through the prism of art. This major public awareness piece is currently in the final stages of production, with a goal to have the video unveiled on the stage of the West Virginia Cultural Center in June 2003.

Binder has worked on Field of Flowers as writer, illustrator, dancer, producer, director and co-editor. To begin her research for this project, she visited shelters across West Virginia, listening to victims, abusers, and counselors and becoming educated about domestic violence. She has used what she learned to create a work, showing the underlying dynamics of abuse, but which also shows a glimpse of a possible solution.

Jude Binder and Ira Bernstein in dance from Field of Flowers

Nine other professional artists have joined in the making of the video including Ethel Caffie-Austin; Gideon Kendall, New York based illustrator; Ira Bernstein, internationally recognized percussive dance artist; Ilene Evans, West Virginia based storyteller and teacher; West Virginia actor Michael Martin; Virginia based actor and teacher, Joel Baird; photographer and Heartwood faculty member, Neil Grahame; and film-maker John Nakashima of Morgantown, working with Chip Hitchcock and Larry Dowling.

When the work is completed, Binder intends to travel to shelters throughout the state showing the video to shelter directors, their clients, volunteers, and survivors of domestic violence. This video will carry a message of hope and self-empowerment. Domestic advocates will be able to use Field of Flower for a wide range of seminar and workshops. It will be made available to professionals in the social service community, the legal and law enforcement community, the medical community, the church and school communities and civic and advocacy groups. It is the ultimate hope that Field of Flowers will help make the general public sensitive to the real issues of domestic violence, and to help move people towards action for justice, with the realization that justice in the world begins at home.

Funding for Field of Flowers is made possible by the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the National Endowment For The Arts, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, the Appalachian Community Fund and many individual donations of money, time and talent.

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