Waddy resident Bree Bodnar was awarded an Arts meets Activism Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for her project Upcycle: A book, album, workshop and event to benefit the Transitional Housing Program for women and children at Operation Care in Shelbyville, KY. Upcycling is to repurpose or restore materials to create something of greater monetary or environmental value. Bodnar gave the word an additional definition: using music and art-making to break cycles of trauma and create something valuable, and empowering.
Upcycle: Songwriting & Art-Making to Break Cycles of Trauma and Create Something Valuable (Green Panda Press 2022 66 pp.) combines Bree’s (she drops her surname when published or performing) 44 original song lyrics-one for every year of her life-with a personal essay about how she used poetry and songwriting to transcend trauma in her life. Each song includes anecdotes and background info. The book will be available at Operation Care’s Encore Shop beginning June 10th, and may also be ordered at any bookstore or local library, or by emailing email@example.com. The cover price is $15.00. All proceeds go to Operation Care. Bodnar will conduct a workshop with the residents of the Transitional Housing Program to impart skills used in upcycling items which could be sold to supplement their incomes. She wrote her book to illustrate for them ways in which upcycling can be an avenue to simply enjoy the natural therapy of creating art as a means of transcending abuse or any other life trauma, and to encourage them to explore genres and use their voices in whichever medium speaks to them. Bodnar also collaborated with several musicians, including locals Lewis Mathis, Mason Daugherty, and Wes Thompson, to record her album Upcycle, which will be released at www.theartistbree.bandcamp.com on the day of the Upcycle benefit event this July 23rd 11-4 at Operation Care 708 Main Street.
At the Upcycle Benefit Event Sale, attendees can meet local artists and shabby-to-chic artisans to learn about their method and process, browse upcycled art, furniture, and wares to purchase, and watch live upcycling demos. They may bid on items upcycled by residents of the TH program, or buy tickets for various items to be raffled. For a small fee, members of the public can create their own upcycled bird houses, frame art, drink trays and more from rescued materials, to take home. There will be free bruschetta and other refreshments courtesy of The Bell House. For heavier fare, one might opt to purchase tacos from local food truck Taqueria La Nayarita, and top it off with some locally baked goods from our bake sale. Sponsors for the event have paid for ads, provided items to be raffled, and donated supplies to help raise money and awareness for the Transitional Housing Program at Operation Care, which in addition to other things, provides women and children with shelter, and a program that helps them move from homelessness to self-reliance. Sponsors include The Barrel Room, Texas Road House, Nugget & Co., 6th & Main Coffeehouse, JP Wood Designs, Pontrich Floor Covering, Chalk Couture, Sweet Waddy Jane, Gaines Painting, and more TBA.
Bree is a poet, publisher and artist from Cleveland, OH. In 2014 she moved to Pleasureville, and now resides in a former post office in Waddy, KY. In 2001 she founded Green Panda Press which produced hand-made poetry and art chapbooks, anthologies, and ephemera of the independent press. Currently it puts out trade papers in the print-on-demand format. Come What May: Collages from a Single Photograph (Least Bittern Books 2017) selects 300 full-color pages of her collages made with a mouse using the computer program Paint, each from a single photograph. She has several poetry collections and memoirs, including And I am Also Invasive (Birds and Bones 2016), The Dark Junco Morning (Green Panda 2016), Matter Ring (The City 2012), and was chicken trax amid sparrows tread (Temple Books 2009). She co-wrote Akol Atyii Madut’s memoir Sleeping with the Sun In His Eyes, about escaping genocide in Sudan and ultimately working at a Whole Foods in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. She edited and published Valga Krusa, Charles Potts’ 2-volume memoir about Berkeley poets and the COSMEP conventions of the late 1960s. Her drawings and collages appear on the covers of dozens of small press poetry books. Some recent work and an interview may be seen at the international bilingual poetry site Read Carpet. KFW awarded her an Artist Enrichment grant in 2015 to gauge how nude studies are received in various regions of Kentucky, and an Arts Meets Activism grant in 2021 for her project Upcycle. She enjoys hiking and identifying native plants and birds.