VOL. 115 | NO. 167 | Friday, October 5, 2001
By JENNIFER MURLEY
Giving art and soul
By JENNIFER MURLEY
Sting has a unique job. She ensures that the aging, former mayors of Memphis
stay in tip-top shape and looking good.
shes not a personal trainer.
is an art conservationist on contract with the city, charged with preserving
the hand-painted portraits hanging in the Hall of Mayors at city hall. Like the
city contract, she has similar arrangements with the Brooks Museum of Art and
various other museums, collectors and auction houses.
her latest accomplishment doesnt involve art, at least not directly. Instead,
it involves her other passion the Latin community.
51, is a founding member and current president of Casa de Columbia, which is
hosting its 10th anniversary gala Oct. 20, honoring a decade of service to the
The nonprofit organization, which began as a way for people within
the Latin community to help each other, was created in 1991 while Sting was
serving Mayor Dick Hacketts administration on an international committee.
Now, after 10 years of hosting dinners and countless hours of
volunteer work, more than 30 families participate in the organization, raising
more than $5,000 each year. The money is divided between a wealth of Latino
causes both abroad and within the community including health care assistance,
disaster relief and education. In fact, Sting recently received the good news
that for $300, Casa de Columbia will be able to send six Columbian children to
school for one year.
like an extended family, Sting said of the group. We have cried together,
rejoiced and worked together. Its just a little piece of home.
for Sting, born Maria Cristina Daza, is Bogota, Columbia. She has fond memories
of her early years in South America, where, her artistic talents surfaced at
the tender age of 7.
was just painting the walls of the house, she said, laughing. Seriously, with
chalks, with my mothers lipsticks, just anything that I could grab a hold of.
Her father promptly channeled Stings energy away from the furniture and walls
and into art classes, where she tutored under European greats such as French
maestro Pedro Chantres and her mentor, Italian maestra Bianca Fiorini.
Sting went on to earn undergraduate and masters degrees in fine
arts, as well as a communication degree at the request of father, who wanted
her to have a back-up plan just in case art didnt pay the bills. Furthering
her passion for art, she went on to receive a doctorate in art conservation
from Englands Oxford University.
In 1972, she
married and moved to the States, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1985. Over the past
29 years, Sting has served in numerous capacities within local organizations
ranging from past-president of the Madonna Circle to a volunteer at the Mother
Teresa Shelter. She was nominated as one of former-President Bushs Points of
Light, and most recently she was the recipient of the Germantown Arts Alliance
bronze medal lifetime achievement award.
Although Sting counts her deep religious faith as her source of strength, in
1994 she and her husband suffered the loss of their 19-year-old daughter, which
ultimately rearranged her perspective.
family was my strength, and she was my inspiration really, she said. When it
happened, it was like when somebody pulls a rug from under your feet and you
cant get balanced anymore.
was when Sting eventually realized her inner strength. Its the same strength
of spirit present today in her meticulous artwork, now evident as she leads
Casa de Columbia into a new decade of service.
live for the day and do the best I can, she said. The meaning of life,
really, is just helping one another, because, you only pass through this world
one time and whatever good you can do, thats what you take with you.