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Destiny Allison

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Member Since: Mar, 2012

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Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life
by Destiny Allison   

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Publisher:  CreateSpace ISBN-10:  1468077333 Type: 


Copyright:  March 5, 2012 ISBN-13:  9781468077339

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Shaping Destiny
Shaping Destiny The Book

Powerful. Deeply honest. Intensely personal. This book will change the way you think about art and understand yourself.

A renowned artist, activist and businesswoman, Destiny Allison is a force of nature. In Shaping Destiny, she shares the experiences, observations and philosophical pursuits that transformed her into a successful artist.
Shaping Destiny is about the conflicts between who we were taught to be and who we actually are. It drives to the heart of what it means to be a woman and an artist while it reveals the sources of art that lie hidden in one’s own personal experience.
This powerful and compelling narrative illuminates the creative process, shows us new ways of looking at and talking about art, and demonstrates how making art helps us discover our humanity and determine our lives.
“The closest literary fellow traveler to Shaping Destiny that comes to mind is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Shaping Destiny puts a finger on some important truths about the interaction between life and art – including the painful and difficult parts – and lays bare those truths with courage and conviction” -- Ted Orland, co-author of the bestselling book Art & Fear
Twilight was his favorite time of day. He had a cream-colored
Oldsmobile with black velour seats that he loved to drive. He would take
me driving at twilight through the silent streets of Santa Fe - down Canyon
Road and around the Plaza, up Cerrillos Road and left on St. Mike’s, past
Hardee’s restaurant and the hospital, and down again on Old Santa Fe Trail.
We would drive in silence - there was an unspoken code against speaking.
We listened to John Coltrane on the eight track player and watched through
the car windows as people turned into shadows and lights came on.
I wanted to be in the houses where lights shone warm in the
ghostly blue of the night. I wanted to be where there was life and warmth
- laughter coming from kids running down the hall, “Star Trek” on T.V.
and the aroma of a cooking dinner wafting from the kitchen. Bath water
would be filling the tub, soft and steamy hot. Instead, I sat in the car, my
head not high enough to touch the headrest, my body against black velour,
inhaling second-hand smoke from the Lucky Strike cigarette burning against
my father’s fingers.
During these rides, I was a silhouette, a shadow of myself watching
my father at the moment when his conflicting worlds disappeared and he
could be quiet. I wanted him to talk to me and ruffle my hair so I could
speak and be myself. But in that car, when day was turning to night, he
was beyond my reach - his thumb tapping on the wheel to a beat I couldn’t
follow. There was no possibility of the connection I longed for, of the
passing of heart into action and mind into words. I wanted to go home, to
stop him from disappearing, and to see him display the passion - even if it
was directed against me - that made him beautiful. And yet I never spoke
during those times and I never turned down the opportunity to ride with
him. I thought if I declined his offer, he wouldn’t love me anymore. And I
thought that if I spoke and broke that silence, he would revoke my privilege
to bear witness to his private reveries.

Professional Reviews

Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life
Not until I was several chapters into Destiny Allison's memoir, Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Art and Life, did I make the connection between the author's name and the book title. When the lights finally went on, I was awestruck at the depth of the aptness. I could literally feel slippery clay beneath my hands as she described working on her sculptures, and my sense of her inner self slowly changing profoundly deepened. The continual dance between the state of her sculptures, her search for the meaning of words, and her understanding of various elements of her life thrilled me.

Before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about the process of additive sculpture, and I was fascinated by her explanations of the process, from concept through casting.

Sculpture served well as both metaphor and mechanism for her personal transformation from a traditionally female role to that of a self-determining, self-aware professional artist. Her interwoven accounts of the sculpture process and the evolution of her thinking helped me realize that the sculpture process is also an apt metaphor for the writing process, and presumably any creative process. She begins with a concept and builds a structure (armature) to support the further development of that process. Then she layers on the substance, adding layers of meaning and detail. Ultimately she gets down to the final steps of crafting the visible surface. Her concept is subject to change as the project evolves.

This much I followed easily. It corresponds perfectly to the writing process, with the initial outline or intention for the project followed by layers of paragraphs and scenes, each independently constructed. Ultimately, final editing polishes specific words and phrases to a shine, and the message may shape-shift between conception and publication.

Her studio encounters are also meaningful to writers. The tight-knit cluster of kindred spirits working together in her studio served as a sounding board for Allison, and presumably also for each other, much like a writing group, as they challenged each other and hammered out concepts and meanings.

As much as I related to and was inspired by this book, it also strengthened my awareness that there are limits to what we can convey with mere words, primarily due to the lack of shared background. I knew next to nothing about the sculpture process before reading this book. I learned a lot. I would have learned even more if she had included illustrations. I got lost when she began discussing abstract terms like intersecting planes, the symbolism of shapes, and negative space. I feel certain these are meaningful concepts, but as adroit as she is with words, those lofty abstractions did not come through. I am disappointed that I am unable to find pictures anywhere of the early poem sculpture that filled several chapters of the book, shaped her thinking, and put her on the map as a sculptor.

Despite that lack, her skill in describing her process and the passionate enquiry she engaged in to deepen her own understanding and skill are inspiring. In the end, I realized that these insights are highly personal, and we must each work them out for ourselves, in our own way and time. She uses clay. I use words. Others may use paint, musical instruments, acting, or physical activity. The choice of medium matters less than the use of one to discover and express our personal truth. Eventually, some of this truth may be beneficial and inspiring to others, but she seems to be saying that at least in the early stages, the fundamental value is more in the process than the finished product.

Allison did a superb job of pouring her heart and soul onto the page and creating an inspiring volume that bridges sculpture to other creative arts and life in general. Just as I do not share her passion for her specific art genre, but do recognize the value of her process, I also do not share her family background, but found the evolution of her family relationships both heartwarming and encouraging.

In closing, I want to commend Allison on the quality of her book. She chose to self-publish her work on CreateSpace, and it is professional in every respect. The cover is compelling, the layout is elegant and eminently readable, and I didn't notice a single typo or grammatical error. She deserves extra kudos for exhibiting the same professionalism in publishing as she does in her art.
First published at Story Circle Book Reviews

Review Day: Shaping Destiny
Title: Shaping Destiny
Author: Destiny Allison
Rating: 5 stars

(description from Amazon)
Powerful. Deeply honest. Intensely personal. This book will change the way you think about art and understand yourself.

Shaping Destiny is about the conflicts between who we were taught to be and who we actually are. It drives to the heart of what it means to be a woman and an artist while it reveals the sources of art that lie hidden in one’s own personal experience.

This powerful and compelling narrative illuminates the creative process, shows us new ways of looking at and talking about art, and demonstrates how making art helps us discover our humanity and determine our lives. (end)

Shaping Destiny is a beautifully written novel about the journey Destiny Allison took to learn who she was as a person, mother, artist, friend and woman. This unique novel was written with such passion, skill and finesse that I from the very first paragraph I was drawn in and couldn't put it down. Destiny writing style is absolutely flawless and incredible. She paints a picture in your mind so vivid you feel as if it is your life. The entire journey I was taken on really hit home, being that I am a young woman, and showed me that if I find something I am passionate about I too can become the person I aspire to be.

Destiny Allison mixed the art and becoming a woman perfectly. She showed us how passion drives us, how woman are who they want to be and really drove home what shapes our lives. Men, don't think you can't read this novel and learn a thing of two. The life lessons can still be understood and the story is phenomenal! The most impressive part about this novel is how she manages to teach and entertain in a way that isn't Chicken Soup for the Soul-ish, very obvious *life lessons* that make you feel like a bad person. The one thing I wish I could have from this more! I hope that Destiny Allison continues writing and producing literary gems like this one. I am your new and loyal fan!!

Published by Hilary at Novel d'Tales

Woman on the edge of reality review
Shaping Destiny is the inspiring story of Allison’s life from the creation of her first sculpture to her acceptance into a prominent Santa Fe art gallery. The book, which recounts her journey from traditional female roles to self-actualization and independence, is told with three voices: the emotional, the intellectual and the instructional. Though she had no formal training, Allison moved quickly from small, Plasticine clay sculptures to an apprenticeship at a foundry to teaching in a small museum. Along the way, the author wrestled with shedding and then reclaiming family. To add to the extended metaphor binding her story to the theory and language of sculpture, Allison infuses an ample dose of popular philosophy in lessons culled from childhood days spent with her father. The 22 lessons at the beginning of each chapter intend to guide readers’ passage through the complexities of clay and life; each lesson works with the idea that art is a process, as is life.

When I was first asked if I might host Destiny here on Woman on the Edge of Reality and write a review I was initially sceptical, after all this is the autobiography of a living artist and, with the best will in the world, there is no way anyone would ever be able to accuse me of being an art lover. I visit the odd gallery or two, I love some museums, but I prefer my art to be something I can understand easily and not something I have to work at to understand. However, I read the first chapter and was hooked. This is because, as someone that works with women for a huge part of my working day, Destiny accurately captured what they say and feel; and what they share with others in the same boat. What I found as I carried on reading was that this is not so much a book about Art, but about how Art became the means of self expression of a woman who didn’t understand how to change herself and her life. It’s certainly not an easy read though and it’s challenging in many places, mainly because it makes you think about yourself and your own expectations and experiences of life; as a result some may find it a difficult read. You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the book, but I do think you need to be open to putting your own life under the microscope to really get the full benefit of it.

Published by Linda Parkinso-Hardman at

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Reader Reviews for "Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life"

Reviewed by steve Ewers 3/22/2012
This is a well written book on art and life. The narrative is rich and personal with life stories that draw you into the book. This is a book that you can read over and over to find more meaning.

For me, the lessions are interesting metaphores for life that hit home.

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