If Our Walls Could Talk

In celebration of women, our Story of Women exhibit,  and the 100 year anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage & The Right to Vote,  we’d like to introduce you to a few of the artists who generously shared their art (and their stories) with us.

Meet Karen Kassap, Kayte Devlin, Vilma Ortiz-Dillon, and Barbara Fenton.

the story of women  was noted as a timely and relevant art exhibit that features art work inspired by women and their multiple roles as mother, goddess, teacher, athlete, orator, sister, nurturer, innovator, on and on.


The following artists opened up to give us a glimpse into the story of women – their journey, their role in society, their duality, their struggles, their successes, and their future.

Blog Karen_Kassap- B;acl Weddomg

Karen Kassap |  Website: karenkassap.com  |  Instagram: KarenKassap

About Karen

Karen Kassap studied mixed media collage with Debi Pendell for many years, and Debi remains an important mentor to her. She also studied photography at the International Center for Photography in New York.  She is a member of the Connecticut Bar and the Pennsylvania Bar. When she is not in her studio she is a volunteer for the Apostle Immigrant Services and works as a facilitator for the ADL Words to Action program.  Kassap is the proud mother of Naomi, Myles and Sam, and the wife of Cary Caldwell.

About Karen’s Art

Karen has been working as a mixed media collage artist for more than 15 years. She enjoys this form of expression because it illustrates the dichotomy between the completed work, and the many layers of paint and paper that form the foundation of the piece.

The underlying support for her collages can seem chaotic and wild, and yet her goal as an artist is to draw the viewer in with something viscerally attractive, cohesive and sometimes quiet. The many layers required to create the work are often completely invisible to the viewer, but their existence is a mystery that draws one in. And sometimes patient observation is rewarded with a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface — just as intimacy makes visible the hidden layers of oneself.

Karen’s work is a personal expression of her identity as a woman, a mother, a wife and a Jew. While “Feminist” is the title I proudly claimed since I was a young girl, I am sometimes surprised by the many “traditional choices” I have made as an adult. I take great pleasure in many of the “womanly arts” such as: cooking, home making, child rearing, sewing and knitting, and creating a religious home.

In a life full of contradictions, Karen struggles with the ideals and realities of feminine power. She explains,

I am inspired by Proverb 31, A Woman of Valor, which explores the struggle between the freedom and confinement of an idealized woman. I enjoy using metaphors and symbols in my work, and many of them have personal significance to me. However, my hope is that they are universal keys which can unlock ideas of female strength and independence. Technically, working in mixed media collage is very satisfying, because it requires creating the materials and then reusing them in my compositions. It also leaves space to include painting and drawing, if I so choose. These works are made entirely of painted or printed papers, acrylic paint, acrylic gel medium, and various found objects. I work from many sources of inspiration, including photographs that I have taken and artists whom I admire.


About Black Wedding – Winner of Best Story in The Story of Women exhibit

This is a strange Eastern European superstition/custom called the “Black Wedding.” There was a strong magical aspect to the cholera wedding and the idea behind it was that a marriage in the presence of the dead would bring God’s attention to the suffering from the plague. This strange marriage was often between two people who were marginalized, by poverty or disability. The community sponsored their wedding and in return their marriage was an offering. These marriages occurred as early as 1831, during Russia’s first cholera pandemic, in 1849 in Krakow and in the US during the 1918 Spanish flu.  Judge Shanna T. Melton says of this work:

There is so much to see in this story of individuals coming together, feet firmly planted and hands held tightly. They seem to be moving in unison but the images, beautiful structure of creatures and hands, the way there is so much around them that seems to threaten and support their union holds true to how it can be when a couple marries. The attention to detail along with the story of the complexity of stepping into a union is an important conversation.

Blog Kayte_Devlin

KAYTE DEVLIN | http://www.kaytedevlin.com

About Kayte

Kayte Devlin is multi-talented to say the least. An award-winning singer/songwriter, actor, and artist, Kayte is a Vermont Country Girl presently residing in Devon, Milford CT. She writes Organic Mood Altering Pop/Folk Tunes with an Earthy Twist, creates beautiful “Colorful Happy Sketches” inspired by the Milford shoreline, and has spent many years as a professional actor – even starring in an early play at the MAC in the 1980’s.

Kayte started writing at the age of five and holds such honors as two-time President of Connecticut Songwriters Association. Early recognition for Kayte came when she was selected by a talent scout for Star Search in Los Angeles in the 1980s. With 4 children to raise, Kayte put her arts career on hold to focus on her role as a single mom. In 1986, Kayte moved to Milford from Greenwich, looking for a smaller and more quintessential kind of town.

Once Kayte landed in Milford, she immediately discovered the MAC (then Milford Fine Arts Council) and became involved in a theatre as well as fundraising efforts to turn the old train station into MAC’s home. Kayte even made and starred in a television commercial to raise awareness of the fundraising venture.

And Kayte never stopped creating.

Now an empty nester, Kayte is semi-retired from professional acting; however, she continues to write music, create artwork, and perform on both coasts. She recently reconnected with the MAC, singing and delighting the patrons of an outdoor pop up exhibit this summer. She became a member shortly after this performance, entered The Story of Women exhibit, and has already enriched the MAC family on many levels.

about Kayte’s art

Kayte describes herself as a “Scratch Artist” She says that her work taps into her inner child who is now hanging out with the “Big Kids” in the art world. In her humble fashion, she stands in awe that “no one judges me or puts my work down. She states, “I had no idea folks would start asking for cards, canvasses, garden flags, and other products and services from me.” Kayte’s work is colorful, whimsical, and free – bringing joy to observers as they melt into the magical scenes of her beautiful coastal life.

Blog vilma_ortiz-dillon

Vilma Ortiz-Dillon |  https://www.facebook.com/vilma.ortizdillon

about vilma

Earlier this year Vilma moved to Milford and joined the MAC,  craving a vibrant artists community. She immediately became a volunteer and began to find a supportive community at the Spring Photo Expo, The Story of Women exhibit and most recently, the Happy Hallow Haunts event.

After reading about the upcoming “Story of Women” exhibit, a friend suggested that she enter her watercolor that she had displayed in her studio. This piece told the story of a strong, confident women; the woman she wanted to be. The piece Ready to Vote was created when she was 23 years old when she had just started her career as a book illustrator.

about vilma’s art: Ready to Vote

Vilma created this piece for herself – no commission and no deadline – in Brooklyn, NY after her six-year relationship ended with her college boyfriend. For reference, she used slides that she took at the Easter parade on Fifth Avenue in NY. She explains:

In my younger days I used to travel around the city and take lots of photos. It was, for me, my “BLUE” period. I was in a deep depression, full of sadness, and grieving. As I painted I used a spray bottle of water to make the background runny, watery… like my tears. I sobbed as I worked, my heart was broken. I still remember my mother, opening my door, and asking me to please stop crying. She said she could hear me from the other end of the house. I sought comfort and focusing on this piece gave me strength. It is still my favorite piece that I have created.The main character is in front, detailed facial features, with her head held high. She is the only one with strong contrast, in focus, with energy shown in the line drawing. She is a suffragette! The other women are looking at her, they are grey and washed out.

Vilma felt this piece was appropriate for this exhibit and the current situation we are in in the world today. She states, “We can be this woman. Together, we can make a difference as we are fighters and have the power to change things.”

Vilma believes that art is an important outlet for women to express the transitional phases of life and how roles change. She believes that as individuals our experiences shape our unique vision. Currently, Vilma is making the time to play and experiment with all sorts of tools and mediums to find what she truly enjoys doing.

Blog - Barbara_Fenton

Barbara Fenton

about Barbara

Barbara Fenton studied at New York University School of Social Work and she has an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Barbara worked as a therapist for more than 30 years and heard countless stories from her female clients about being battered, abused, and disregarded. She explains, “Women have power but there is anger that we have not been recognized or listened to.”

about Barbara’s art

Barbara’s acrylic, We’re Not Going Away, shows five women clustered together staring straight at the viewer. Barbara started this piece when the #MeToo movement began and Harvey Weinstein was in the news. She explains that her paintings evolved from that moment. She believes that women are a powerful force, and this is depicted in her artwork.

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