Being Inspired Every Day Is My Livelihood

Portraits  ©Laurie and Charles

©Laurie and Charles

Laurie’s Story

From a very young age, my mother made conscious efforts to expose my siblings and I to the arts.  Of course at the time, I may not have even truly understood the profound impact that art classes, theater attendance, museum shows, would have.  There was a deep love of Broadway shows that extended to my grandmother and grandfather.  Various art projects were always on our walls, even framed, subtly showing my siblings and I that our artistic voices mattered.  Growing up in Dundee, I came to know and love everything Dundee meant to Omahans.  It was in the sunks of Happy Hollow that I explored visually after a late spring snow storm in 1986 with my first camera, a Pentax  K1000.  In fact, as I reflect on my early memories of always being ‘the friend with the camera’ I know that my early draw to photography was (and remains today) people.  The people of Omaha were the best subjects in the world.

Central High School created a lasting impact on how I view the world and continues to be influential today.  At Central, I experienced diversity and culture in a way that taught me so many lessons.  It was an honor to be amongst so many different people, a microcosm of the world in one school.   I still value that experience and know it has impacted how I have been a parent.    Difference is celebrated.  Everyone is unique.  Visually, Central’s architectural beauty never ceased to amaze me.  I loved being able to walk to the Joslyn Art Museum’s galleries and continue to love the close vicinity of these two great Omaha institutions.  Looking back on my younger years in Omaha, it’s hard to separate one aspect as all these pieces- exposure to arts, cultural diversity, and great, kind community- that have influenced and shaped where I am today.

Composition Football Paris ©Laurie Victor Kay

Composition Football Paris ©Laurie Victor Kay

My path to visual arts clearly began early, was formed in Central’s art studios, and later took me to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College.  There may have been a time in my life that I was admittedly nerdy about school, seeing arts not as a career but more as an interest, a passion.  Understanding that I could make this passion a career was enlightening.  In fact, it was Omaha that drew me back to do this in 1995.  It was in an Omaha photography studio that I serendipitously crossed paths with my husband Charles.  We had both moved home after our big city experiences- mine in Chicago, his is New York and LA.  We knew immediately we would share an incredible visual journey together through love and life.

During my twenty year career as a photographer in Omaha, I have photographed countless amazing faces of our beautiful city.  My visual journey is intricately tied to living here.    This is a town where people care for one another.  It where philanthropy combined with creativity and energy gets great things done.  I love seeing how interconnected the many creative pieces are in this city.    The creative is layered with culture on so many different levels.    When I refer to creativity, I’m also referring to organizations that are doing work in areas of the city that need it most.

So you ask, what is my livelihood?

My livelihood is life in Omaha that includes diversity, culture, intelligence, creativity, peacefulness, kindness, and thoughts of living in the nation’s best city.  My livelihood is one that includes creating portraits of people in our community that they can enjoy in their homes for years to come.  The happiness this gives me is immense.  I could not creatively do any of this if I was not inspired every day.  Living in Omaha gives me just that- liveliness about life.

About Lauriekay 2

Exploring and interpreting her surroundings through the lens of a camera, photographer Laurie Victor Kay studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College in Chicago where she received her B.F.A. in photography in 1995.  For the past twenty years, she and her husband Charles have collaborated, owning their studio Laurie and Charles Photographs. Their commissioned portraits have attracted clients to Omaha from across the country. Laurie and Charles’ extensive client list includes Fortune 500 companies, Accenture, AT&T, Citibank, and more, publications such as the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and notables such as Tiger Woods and the Tiger Woods Foundation. Laurie’s work is represented by galleries in New York, Chicago, Sun Valley, and is in prominent collections throughout the US. She has been featured in Photo District News, New York Mag. and Camera Arts, and was a past winner of the Prix de la Photographie.

Laurie Victor Kay’s work can be seen as part of the Art Seen: A Juried Exhibition of Artists from Omaha to Lincoln exhibit at the Joslyn Art Museum from
June 21- October 11, 2015

Simply Creating the Art Is My Livelihood…

Pam’s Story
Creating art is such freedom for me…
because I know that I am expressing
whatever message is in my heart to share…
I can see glimpses of the art piece in my mind…
and I can feel its creation in my spirit…
my being begins to follow …
my hands move determining how
and what to create…
they begin to move over the materials
I have decided to use together
and as I touch each piece of fabric…
paper… wood… metal… photograph…
and add the poetry I have written…
I can see the art piece
as it begins to come alive…
always saying… presenting… giving
more of me… more of whatever message to be shared…
the creation comes from what is in my heart…
whatever I can not voice ….
whatever I cannot say with my voice…
I see the finished art piece when my hands stop…
and I realize I have nothing more to say or present…
all that I have to give is here… is created.


Since I was twelve years old I have thought I might want to be a photographer one day. My parents had given me a camera for my birthday…it was an Ansco. A few years later my grandfather gave me his Petri 7S. He never attempted to show me how to use it. I taught myself. I was sure I wanted to be a photographer. It was then natural for me to decide to major in photography, art, and maybe fashion when I started college.

This photography/art thing did not go over well with the people I loved: family, some friends, and even my sweetheart at that time. I had no support for my artist. Photography and art to them were meant to be a hobbies, not a job or a life. So I let my artist go, and after two years changed my major to criminal justice/sociology; more respectable as a career. The funny thing is, on graduation day, my guidance counselor asked me not to go into the field of criminal justice/sociology and said I would not do it justice. And a week before graduation I took an assessment test at school and the woman helping me with the assessment—after looking at the results—asked me why I did not major in—guess what—art, photography, or fashion.

I went back to school for a short time and took two more photography classes. Aside from creating photographs at school, I created my first piece of art in 1989 for an art show as part of the Woman of Faith in Transition conference. It was a photograph with poetry and a fake rose to decorate the frame. I didn’t stop adding new layers to what I create and how I create. I began to exhibit at different art events and in different art shows, creating my own small exhibits about what I knew about: single mothers, children, my spiritual life. I also began to teach art and photography.

This past summer and fall 2013, I had exhibits at Creighton University in the Multicultural Affairs office and at the Mule Barn at Metropolitan College for the Los Dias de Los Muertos exhibit. I’ve also started artistic networks across the community including the North Omaha Summer Arts Program (NOSA), which is kicking off its fourth year of success in 2014 and provides free classes in different artistic disciplines to anyone who wants to learn. We have an arts crawl of North Omaha on North 30th street, starting with Metropolitan Community College, winding through 5 different churches and ending with the Family Service building. People can stop in and see the beautiful art, have some food, and mix and mingle. We offer writing and quilting classes amongst others, and host a gospel concert in Miller Park, free for anyone to attend. When I see the gift of giving art to others and watching them fall in love with it, I remember how I fell in love with it, and how it has sustained me over the years.

About Pamela
I am a native of Omaha. The mother of two…a daughter, Beaufield and a son, Jesse.
I have been creating and showing art since 1989. I am an artist with the Nebraska Arts Council and I am the founder of the North Omaha Summer Arts Program. I am Pamela Jo Berry.

PAM BERRY (2)opt

The Lessons of Art Are My Livelihood

Jody Boyer (Untitled Forest of the Trees)

Untitled (Forest for the Trees) by Jody Boyer

Jody’s Story
As a teenager I loved art and science. The pressure that art was not a career led me to believe science was the logical choice to pursue. So I left the arts behind and went off to college. Not long after, I ran into a different set of life’s pressures. When I was only twenty years old, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I left college to help him navigate the trials of treatment and the tribulations of being told there was little to nothing that science could do. During this time he gave me a camera and I started putting my energy back into the arts. Science and art are both about observation. They are both about discovering and making meaning. I learned that life is not practical. Life is not always logical. Life is more often than not a poetic mess. As artists and scientists we strive to make sense from that mess. We strive to find solutions to the problems we are presented and ways of making order and beauty from the complexities of our world. 

18 years later, I teach art in a middle school. Middle school is this amazing time in people’s lives. Experiences in this formative time will help people make decisions about who they want to be and how they want to live their lives. In my classroom I strive to expose my students to the widest possibilities of the visual arts. I aim to teach them that school separates the world into these discrete disciplines, but in reality, the world is a far more interconnected place. There are paths and places for artists that are just as valid and important as the paths and places for scientists. And more often than not, those paths overlap and are far more connected more than we think. I have made a goal of my work, as a teacher and an artist, to make some objective and poetic logic out of the world through the lens of the visual arts. Thus, the lessons of art and the art of lessons are my livelihood.

About JodyJody Boyer
Jody Boyer is an artist and teacher originally from Portland Oregon. She received her 
B.A. in Studio Arts from Reed College, an M.A. in Intermedia from the University of Iowa and her K-12 teaching certification through the Teacher Academy Project at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally, including at the Des Moines Art Center and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and seen in such publications as Review and Art in America. She teaches art at Norris Middle School in Omaha Nebraska and at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.