Why in the world would anyone with half-of-a-brain ever consider leaving a good paying job with excellent benefits. For God Sakes, I didn’t even have to take a train to work. White and Case had a cab pick me up every day to take me to work. (I worked the night shift) The answer to my own question was that I was very naive but was -and still is- the type that thinks outside the box. The other reason I was able to resign my job was because my husband Mr. Allen was willing to support my vision to switch careers as a legal secrertary to an artist. We both were willing to take the risk into the unknown and see where the GOLD CHIPS would land.


I knew absolutely nothing about art nor did I care about art. It never entered my mind, ever; That wasn’t until I experienced two life changing events. Number one was when I met my husband Richard and number two was when I took my first sewing lesson at a Home Economic Class in Junior High School. It was this class that inspired me to want to become a fashion designer. I was 15 years old when I met my Richard. He was so kind, sincere, honest and thoughtful. He was also tall and handsome. He told me he was an artist. Although I didn’t know what an artist was suppose to look like, he didn’t fit the look. He looked more like a very successful businessman. He invited me to his apartment to see his art. I went. When I saw his work I was shocked and very impressed. I really didn’t believe he drew them. They looked too perfect, they were masterworks. I am a very point blank honest type so I told him that I didn’t believe him. He just smiled. He told me that his dream was to pursue a career as a medical illustrator but instead he was offered a position as a Civil Draftsman with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey drawing blueprints for railroads, tunnels, bridges and roadways. He asked me if I was willing to let him draw my portrait . I said yes. It was very beautiful. After graduating from High School I enrolled in Kingsborough College and still had the desire to major in Fashion Design. My college advisor suggested that I major in Secretarial Science instead. She said I could always find a job as a secretary. I didn’t see it her way but eventually she persuaded me so I took her advice and majored in Secretarial Science. I am glad I took her advice. She was right. I eventually forgot that at one time I wanted to major in Fashion Design. I enjoyed my career as a Legal Secretary. I worked in 4 different NYC Law Firms. Cora T. Walker Law Firm in Harlem, N.Y., Solomon, Rosenbaum, Drexler and Leff, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and White and Case. Everything was going so well until the sudden death of my beautiful mother Bernice E. Williams. I did not realize that my mother’s sudden death would lead me into a destiny and calling as a Needlework Folk Artist full of serendipity, miracles, travel and fame.


After the death of my mother I became terribly depressed. I wanted to throw in the towel. I couldn’t seem to stop grieving over losing her and couldn’t see any way out of the deep pit I found myself in. One day I walked into a Woolworth’s store in Brooklyn, N.Y. and accidently wound up in the Needlework Department. I found myself surrounded by beautiful colorful fabrics, sumptuous crochet and knitting yarns, needlework books, pretty laces and all sorts of needlework items. What really struck me the most was a embroidery kit with the image of The American Flag, Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclaimation and a Quill Pen. I purchased the kit. I didn’t quite understand why I felt so much better just being in the Needlework Section of the Store until I arrived home and opened up the kit. It hit me like a ton of bricks; the needlework department in Woolworth’s was one of my mother’s favorite places in the entire universe. How could it be that I got lost in this store and wound up right where you could always find my mother in her rare spare time. The other question was why in the world would I even consider buying a embroidery kit when I couldn’t even do embroidery work. (later on I found out that embroidery was my mother’s favorite pastime) It must have been that my beautiful mother asked the GOOD LORD ABOVE to do me a favor and rescue me from my sadness and depression. When I opened up the little kit and took the wool yarn out to thread the needle, I was already beginning to feel much better. I tried reading the directions on how to do the unique stitches but couldn’t understand them so I decided just to make up my own embroidery stitches. When I pulled the wool thread through the linen cloth, I was instantly hooked. The effect of pulling the wool through the linen cloth was very relaxing, soothing and calming; my depression began leaving me being replaced by a gentle quietness transforming my mind from worry, anxiety and depression. I knew that my mother was a very talented self-taught seamstress but discovered later on that her favorite passtime was crewel embroidery work. She also enjoyed making cloth dolls from store brought patterns and also dabbled in drawing and painting. My mother Bernice was an artist.


At last, it finally hit me what it was I was called to do. I was called to become a Needlework Artist. By this time my husband could see that Needlework Art, Design and History was the only thing on my mind. At first when I told him that I wanted to quit my job on Wall Street, he looked at me as though I had two heads on my shoulders. He didn’t understand how in the world I could think of changing my career from working as a legal secretary to an artist. It only made him more suspect when I told him I didn’t plan on going to art school to learn art but that I wanted to teach myself. He really thought that I had lost my cotton picken mind but gave in because he saw that I was really serious and determined about my passion for needlework. To make a long story short, it took me a total of 12 years to teach myself how to draw and paint. I also immersed myself in doing research on the history and origin of Needlework Art and Design. The most interesting thing I learned about needlework art I discovered in the Tanakh; i.e. The Torah.


Now that I’ve discovered what my calling and life’s work was, I was also beginning to feel a bit uneasy about my new career as an artist. I worked very hard at teaching my self everything I knew I would need to succeed but there was one ingredient missing. How would my new skills as a needlework artist help the world to become a better place. Could pursuing a career doing needlework really help anyone. I didn’t want to just do needlework as a hobby or just for fun. The best part of working in law firms was that people were being helped; laws were being changed for the better and justice was being served. In other words the jobs I worked at as a legal secretary had purpose and meaning to it – but Needlework Art, what’s so important about needlework; can my career creating art make a difference in anyones’ life? At first I didn’t think so until I was invited to take part in a lecture series at a Museum in Brooklyn on the Origins Of Needlework. This is when I discovered that the origin of needlework began in the First Book of The Torah. Genesis Chapter 3, verse 21 is where GOD made coats of skin for Adam and Eve in exchange for the flimsy figleaves they had made for themselves to cover their neckedness. Furthermore, GOD HIMSELF informed Moses in the Book of Exodus that HE wanted to dwell with the Children Of Israel in a Tabernacle and that HE HIMSELF would give Moses all the details on how HE wanted it constructed. HE gaves Moses the instructions for the designs which included the height, length, width and depth, the colors for the curtains, the pattern for the furniture, and the types of wood HE wanted used to make them. Additional instructions were given on how to dye the animal fibers for weaving and embroidery. Additionally, GOD also selected the three individual men HE would fill with the Holy Spirit gifting them in Cunning Curious Craftsmenship enabeling them to do the work. The last thing I was able to share with the audience was that GOD HIMSELF is an ARTIST. Genesis Chapter 1 and verse 1 states that in the Beginning GOD created The Heaven and Earth and everything in it. The most amazing thing I also learned was that everything in life is actually art. Art is Life.


Down through the years I have made many mistakes, bad investments, trusted people who I thought had my best interest at heart later to discover that they didn’t. Unfortunately, the secretary who advised me not to take any WOODEN nickels fell on deaf ears. I was clueless and naive. Fortunately, however, I did gain a lot of experience as a result of all the wrong choices and decisions I made. I fessed up, took responsibility for the mistakes I MADE and learned some very hard lessons. My great friend and mentor Mr. William Rennert once told me; ”Experience Costs Money”; He was right. I learned my lessons the hard way. As many doors began opening for me to exhibit my needlework one of the most interesting was when my husband Richard told me one day that the Port Authority of NY and NJ was sponsoring an Annual Art Contests for all their employees including the family members of their employees. He had planned on entering but changed his mind. I asked him could I enter in his place. He told me that I should not waste my time since the competition was stiff. The Architects, Designers, Draftsmen and Artists in the company were participating and that I didn’t do that kind of art. I told him, so what, it was also for family members of the employees and that I’d like to give it a shot. He saw that I was serious and told me go ahead but that I wasting my time. I said to myself he’s right and wanted to change my mind, but I didn’t. The day his company announced the winner was the day my husband finally began to take another look at my work because he said he just couldn’t believe that I won The Best Of Show for the Art Contest. I couldn’t believe it either. The following year I entered again and won again. My husband told me he was proud of me. I just smiled. One day I received a call from a NYC Gallery on Madison Avenue. They told me they wanted to represent me in their gallery. Their gallery representation led to my having a One Woman Show at the Hudson River Museum. The New York Times Art Critic Mr. Zimmer attended and loved the work. As a result he did a great write up about it in the New York Times Sunday Edition. Shortly afterwards I received an email from OPRAH Magazine. They wanted to do a two page article about my work in their O At Home Edition. My friend and mentor Mr. Rennert loved reading the Wall Street Journal Newspaper. One day he came to visit to tell me about an article he had read about the artwork of Walt Disney,. It was about the U.S. Department Of State’s Art In Embassies Program where they select artwork made by American Artists to exhibit in their Embassies around the world. Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Art was selected to be displayed in the Embassy in China. He suggested that I contact them to find out how to apply for the program. I told him I wouldn’t because my work wasn’t good enough for their program. He said hogwash, I think it’s good enough. A few years had passed when out of the clear blue I received an email from the U.S. Department of State Art In Embassies office in Washington, D.C. They graciously requested if I’d be willing to lend them one of my story quilts to display at the Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. I told them yes I would. I thought that having my work displayed at the Embassy would be my one day of 15 minutes of fame but to my surprise, they contacted me over and over again about the many different creative ways they wanted to promote my work. I just couldn’t believe it. The day I received a phone call from the White House in Washington, D.C. – a great honor – was a direct result to my being affiliated with the U.S. Department Of State’s Artists In Embassies Program. They invited me and a guest of my choice to a Gala Event sponsored by the U.S. Department Of State, Art In Embassies. I choose Mr. Richard Allen, Sr. my husband to attend the event with me. When we arrived at the White House to have breakfast with First Lady Laura Bush, Dinner with General Colin Powell and his precious wife in addition to meeting some of the most amazing people in the World Of Art at the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department, I said to myself, I’m going to ask Mr. Allen and question to see what his answer will be. I asked my husband Mr. Allen, excuse me, can I ask you a question, he said yes, what is it. I asked, do you like about my artwork now, he just looked at me and smiled.