A trip to AVAM; stories from the network

Firesoul Rebecca Hoffberger

Our Nature Sacred team had the opportunity to visit with Firesoul and Founder and Director of American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), Rebecca Hoffberger. Located in Baltimore, MD, AVAM is a Congressionally designated national museum and education center dedicated to intuitive, self-taught artistry. It champions the role intuition plays in creative invention and innovation of all sorts — be it art, science, engineering, humor or philosophy, and especially in compassionate acts of social justice and betterment. 

As a featured enhancement to the American Visionary Art Museum’s existing meditation and sculpture garden, Nature Sacred helped establish a cascading and illuminated, water fountain wall — complete with multiple, humorous, carved stone heads, each spouting water — created by visionary elder artist, Ted Ludwiczak.

Under Rebecca’s leadership, AVAM has been lauded as one of the most important destinations in Baltimore and beyond. In 2018 and 2019, USA Today cited AVAM as “Best Museum in Maryland,” and the New York Times confirmed that the museum “deserves all of the praise that has been heaped upon it since it opened,” while CNN declared that AVAM is “one of the most fantastic museums anywhere in America.” 

Aside from over 40 art exhibitions, AVAM is also known for its annual events, a Kinetic Sculpture Race and July 4th Pet Parade, along with ongoing movie nights and community classes. 

Our Nature Sacred Team — Alden Stoner, CEO;  Erin Robertson, Chief Programs Officer;  Megan Cooke, Director of Development; Neha Srinivasan, Sacred Place Project Manager; and Debbie Sineus, Intern from Howard University;— were so fortunate to have a private tour of the museum’s most recent exhibit. THE SECRET LIFE OF EARTH: Alive! Awake! (and possibly really Angry!) was on view from October 2019 and is closing September 5, 2021. This exhibition, writes AVAM, “beckons all Earthlings — from climate change skeptics to the world’s leading eco-scientists and green youth planet-activists — entry into an exhibition that’s one part visual earth love-fest, and two parts environmental crash course on the wonders and interdependent fragility of life on our one, blue, homegirl planet.” 

It is always a treat to be at AVAM, to experience the innovative and inspiring art and exhibitions, along with the joy and serenity that the Sacred Place Sculpture Garden brings. However, this visit was made even more impactful as Rebecca has announced this year that after nearly three decades of leadership she will be retiring from her role at AVAM. Rebecca plans to pursue her long-delayed dream to write an original science play about the very real and close friendship between Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain, continuing her signature talent for seamlessly combining art, science, and humor.

AVAM’s Board Chair, Christopher Goelet, has said that “Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and, in fact, the entire art world will forever be indebted to Rebecca for her vision in creating this ground-breaking living testament to human creativity, imagination and ingenuity.” We completely agree and while we cannot imagine AVAM without it’s original Firesoul, we know that even in retirement Rebecca’s impact and spirit will continue to steward and guide this treasured museum and Sacred Place. We look forward to helping her with onboarding a new Firesoul for the next chapter of this Sacred Place.