By Derrick White
“People are the biggest horror show on earth, have been for centuries,” is a quote from the late poet and novelist Charles Bukowski. This is a quote I have sometimes agreed with. Look around and you won’t have to look far to experience people (who are born, live, and die just like you and me) being negative, nasty, or hateful to each other, and it is an easy thing to want to give up on humanity. We are all the same. We are all different. “I used to be a people person, but people ruined it for me.” It seems within people, good and evil are in a constant, ugly battle, and it feels like the good is an overwhelming underdog in the match, but it is not so. The destructive just gets more immediate attention.
Do you want our world to be better? Then let’s make it better.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’m not sure Mahatma Gandhi actually said this quote, but I like it. I like the positive message behind it, and I like how the responsibility of making the world better begins with me. I like when I see this idea lived out by people I know. I like when this example has a positive impact on my family, my students, and our community as a whole. I like how this quote can be summed up in one local name – Nora Schreiber. I love having Nora Schreiber in our world and specifically in East Texas where she continually finds ways to make a positive difference in the lives of others and enriches all of us through a merge of challenging visual art and dauntless activism. Nora is a full-time student at the University of Texas at Tyler, working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She also works as a private art teacher as well as being a part of the great bartending crew and a manager at one of my favorite joints – Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ.
When Nora is not involved with these activities, she spends time helping people, literally going out and helping people. She typically has a monthly collection/fundraiser targeting a certain community need and then reaches out to friends and the general public and makes it happen. Nora is responsible for taking old chairs, refurbished and adorned with positive one word affirmations and securing them around Tyler at bus stops which provide no seating, giving residents an uplifting message, a comfortable place to rest, as well as a free collection of umbrellas to help prepare them for the rainy season. She fuses her visual art with service to our community.
“For the past decade, creative placemaking has come to describe projects in which ‘art plays an intentional and integrated role in community planning and development.’ This definition is from Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America (APA), a consortium of agencies, banks and philanthropic foundations who believe the arts and arts organizations can shape the social, physical, and economic characters of their communities. Putting art at the heart of a community enhances our lives by stirring hard-to-articulate feelings and inspiring us to look beyond what we believe to be possible and imagine a more vibrant, exciting future. It also reminds us we’re all creative beings – and whether we are making art or music, telling stories, or cathartically sharing in the experience, we’re all connected,” a quote from Suzanne Gerber’s article “Why Building Arts-Based Communities Is So Important.” (nextavenue.org)
Nora loves creating sculpture in mixed media such as plaster, wood, found objects, etc. and often works as an installation artist as well as working in video. The artist states, “My father was an artist, and I think it was passed down to me through the genes. I have consistently been attracted to art and have not been able to get away from it.” What does she value most about art? “The value of self-expression is limitless, but I am lucky I get to have more. I get the honor of meeting fascinating people and aid in the pursuit of comfort for many,” Nora says. Schreiber’s pursuits are not without their frustrations. “My artworks are unconventional. Therefore, I am constantly applying for grants. I love making work – there is no complaint there. I wish, like any artist I guess, I could get paid. It can also be an uphill battle working as a non-object making artist.” Nora Schreiber is inspired by such artists as Caravaggio (Baroque, Italian painter) and Andy Goldsworthy (British sculptor and environmentalist producing site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural environments) and Frida Kahlo (Surrealist, Mexican painter known for her haunting self-portraits).I encourage people to follow Nora on Facebook so they might learn about monthly fundraisers. Also, visit
I encourage people to follow Nora on Facebook so they might learn about monthly fundraisers. Also, visit Ivebeenthatgirl.com (an anonymous, online, emotional dumping ground for women to tell about times they have felt alone, brave, small, inspired, different, wild, misunderstood, loved, accepted, betrayed, overjoyed, or invisible. Your stories deserve to be known. You deserve to be known.
If you were walking or biking on Tyler’s Rose Rudman Trail recently you may have encountered Nora’s installation. During the month of April the artist displayed works in the name of civic unity. Vinyl posters lead the viewer from either side of the path. The posters show portraits of human subjects with text across their faces like masks showcasing complimentary words (i.e. Giving, Patient, Clever, Talented, Brave, and Worthy) meant to act as a positive, forced first impression. A display of these poster artworks was hosted by the Tyler Public Library in an exhibition titled ‘Unity’ May 15th-21st as well. The sculptural element of Nora’s installation was a representation of people as a community made of plaster casts of bags, all made the same way, with the same material. Yet, each casting is unique. No two bags are exactly the same, just like people. “We are all the same. We are all different.”
Gandhi did say this, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.
This is the divine mystery supreme.
A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Be Change! Be more like Nora.
More information go to www.noraschreiber.com.