Technology changes constantly and its siren call of something new — NOW — beckons and attracts. 

But the most important elements of human existence and ingenuity remain constant through time: our hands, our minds, our hearts and our ability to create with these, using the materials around us.

Jennifer Schock understands this concept. It’s difficult to pin the Dayton artist to one medium, because she does everything from dance to sewing, from jewelry making to her latest endeavor, creating one of a kind, hand doodled cards with “plain old” fine-point black markers and fine-point Sharpies in their full array of colors. 

She launched on this project a year ago, as a means of keeping herself busy as she, her husband and five dogs made the move from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest. 

Never one to sit on her hands, she found herself using them when there was nothing pressing to do.

“Doodling seemed the perfect occupation for these times,” Schock explains. She started with Valentine’s cards for family members and then just kept going through the months and seasons, resulting in hundreds of one of a kind, totally hand-created cards. 

Later, as household items arrived in the moving vans and her vast supply of creative treasures arrived, she set up a studio in a nook in a larger room and embarked upon fashioning nostalgic collage cards as well.

“I have books, magazines, all sorts of things to peruse until one photo jumps out at me. Anything is game,” Schock says.

Because she never knows what she’ll make next — depending upon her mood — Schock will doodle a card, sew a grocery bag from repurposed jeans, string beads, knot leather, or fashion wall art from old, scratched, “unplayable, promise!” vinyl records. She collects all sorts of objects and stores them in that small nook studio, which also houses one of the most important pieces of furniture in the house: her work table.

“It’s scratched and nicked. It was purchased by my parents when they married in 1945 and it’s the only dining table our family ever sat around. My small TV sits in a corner and is only on Channel 132, Turner Classic Movies, the only channel I really need!”

It should not come as a surprise that Schock does not own a computer, nor desire to do so. And while she does not object to today’s technological wonders, she is concerned about how their overuse affects society, changing us in a way that is not necessarily positive. As a counteraction to digital overload, handcrafted cards — both her doodled and collage creations — add humanity back to the mix.

“We live in a text, email, social media world, our heads bent down seemingly unaware of surroundings,” Schock says.

“Maybe my cards will bring a moment of laughter, joy, gratitude, healing, tears, or reflection to the recipient.”

If she makes a statement with her art, she adds, this is it. She considers it “cool” that the people who purchase her cards make a statement of their own through the message they write within and her art piece serves as a vehicle for love, sympathy, birthday, missing you — “plain, old-fashioned thoughts” from one human being to another.

“My mother was a wonderful note writer,” Schock says. “For this reason, my cards carry her name: Winnie Cards.”

Humanity matters. And in every creative pursuit she, well, pursues, Schock seeks to connect what she makes or does with who people are. For years she performed and taught dance, eventually focusing on movement therapy, in which she worked with all age groups and backgrounds in a psychiatric facility. Later, she taught art to children in fourth through eighth grades. Whatever she does, wherever she is, her focus is on hands and heart, mind and human creativity.

These elements are timeless, transcending technology, trends and technocracy. The old ways aren’t necessarily outdated and the latest and greatest isn’t always the best. The simple note card, which seemed on its way to becoming obsolete in the light of its e-card competition, has a very real, very necessary place in the modern world.

“Isn’t it just so nice to receive something in the mail? And isn’t it even better to write a few words out and send it along?” Yes, it is.

Carolyn Henderson is a freelance writer who co-owns Steve Henderson Fine Art and SteveHendersonCollections.com with husband Steve. She welcomes correspondence at caroly@stevehendersonfineart.com

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