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September 16, 2013 • 06:55:57 a.m.

New Raue initiative shares inspiring journeys of women who create, overcome

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Kate Wilford(center) and Jeanne Slater (right) of the Raue Center for the Arts talk with Joy McGuire of Crystal Lake during a gathering for the Artful Women initiative at 26 North in Crystal Lake on Thursday, September 12, 2013. Artful Women is a new initiative by the Raue Center for the Arts to showcase work by women artist. (Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com)

The Raue Center for the Arts' newest initiative celebrates women who've created, overcome or simply enjoyed learning through the years.

As part of an Artful Women Series, the center is hosting its first Artful Women Luncheon at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 on stage at the Raue, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.

The event will feature author Erane Scully of Woodstock, who wrote "The Carrion Vine," a nonfiction account of her and her mother's memories surviving two years in a Russian labor camp during World War II. 

An Artful Women Committee intends to host at least three to four programs a year at the Raue pertaining specifically to women's issues in hopes to enlighten, inspire and encourage.  

"We really want this to be relevant," said Richard Kuranda, executive director at the Raue. "Whatever the subject matter, it has to have an impact on contemporary life."

Kuranda said he'd heard from numerous members of the community about the need for more women's programming. He sought help from Rebecca Heisler, Artful Women Committee chairwoman and director of major donors at the Raue.

"I did what any guy would do. I went to the smartest women I know and say, 'Hey, put this together,' " he said. "She's put together a fantastic program exploring all kinds of issues and topics relevant to contemporary society. 

"Our first two events are really jumping into waters we haven't tackled at the Raue in our programming. I'm just so proud of them across the board."

The Artful Women Series began in July with a "Band of Sisters" documentary about Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II. 

Future events likely will touch on a wide range of issues, Heisler said. 

"It could be an artist. It could be performing artists, visual artists. We have no parameters right now. It could be women that have overcome ... anything that would be educational and of interest to women," she said.

The Artful Women Luncheon, featuring Scully, touches on both historical issues as well as the story of the relationship and challenges faced by a mother and daughter, she said.

"She's telling her story in memorial for her mother," Heisler said of Scully.

Having self-published 1,500 copies of the book, Scully said all hard copies have been sold, mainly locally and through word of mouth. The book still is available on e-book through Kindle and Nook.

Inspired by her mother to write the book, Scully would sit with her, before her mother's death, and skim through a diary she kept while in the labor camp. The diary basically was made out of scraps of paper her mother could gather.

"She always insisted it was my job to do it, to let people know what happened," said Scully, who is now 88 years old and working on a follow-up to the book. "I finally fulfilled her wish, and I published her book."

The two ended up in the labor camp while spending their vacation in western Poland. When the war started in 1939, they were trapped and told to move east away from the German army. 

They eventually were arrested, taken on a cattle train and placed in a hard labor camp in Siberia, Scully remembered.

"My mother was always so angry about the idea of anybody treating people this way, not just her and me, but the thousands of people we were with," she said. "She could not understand it. She said, 'This has to be show. This should not be swept under the carpet.' 

"She kept saying I was assigned to do the story, and I did it. It took me forever to put it all together, but this is the story."

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