To get past the façade of a building to the true face of our community, 225 shines a spotlight on three women who work at culturally significant addresses in Baton Rouge that include the number 100.
100 Lafayette Street
Ticket desk manager and visual arts educator, Manship Theatre, Shaw Center for the Arts
Don't be fooled by the no-nonsense blazer and stack of memos behind the ticket desk at the Shaw Center for the Arts—Erin Martinez is much more than a receptionist. The 24-year-old ceramicist from Lafayette moved to Baton Rouge a year ago to support her husband, a violin virtuoso pursuing an MBA at LSU. Since the move, Martinez has developed a love for the Red Stick's hole-in-the-wall eateries, hosted Sunday tea parties to watch weekly installments of Downton Abbey and become the first friendly face locals see when entering one of the city's greatest art hubs.
"This is the place to be for arts in Baton Rouge," Martinez says. "It's very nice to be surrounded by the LSU Museum of Art, to work with the Manship Theatre. I just love this environment as an artist."
When she's not fielding visiting artists or directing first-timers to the elevators, Martinez works as a visual arts educator. In partnership with Manship Theatre, Martinez and other teachers bring a variety of arts to public school classrooms across the community. From the first pencil drawing to a featured exhibit on the museum walls, Martinez is doing her part to bring art to the people.
100 Woman's Way
Volunteer cuddler, Woman's Hospital
68-year-old Sandi Cox is, in many ways, the quintessential grandmother. She's handy with a stove and a wooden spoon, loves to help out at her church and describes her regular dance class as "tap with an attitude." Like many grandmothers, Cox's hugs seem to make things betterbut she uses her touch to try to save lives.
Photo by Angela Major
Cox is a "cuddler," one of several volunteers who take shifts providing comfort and human contact for struggling infants in the neonatal ICU at Woman's Hospital.
When the parents of sick or premature babies can't be at the hospital to hold them, Cox and her co-cuddlers step in to help the babies feel a little less alone as they fight for life.
Cox was one of the first to apply when the program started 15 years ago. Her six grandchildren were growing too big to cuddle, and she missed this simple act of kindness and closeness.
Since then, she has watched countless children survive and heal thanks in part to care from their cuddlers, and she intends to keep up her work as long as she can.
"Being able to watch the babies, to see how they grow and they heal, seeing the miracles that happen," Cox says, "it's such a joy."
100 S. River Road
Tour guide, Louisiana Art & Science Museum
For Karilyn Morris, known to most as "Ms. K," almost every day since 1995 has taught her something new. Working as a tour guide at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum often means a simple meet-and-greet for visiting groups and field trips, but visitors aren't the only ones who can learn.
Exhibits come and exhibits go, but Ms. K stays, absorbing each piece that passes through LASM.
"I must admit, once you come to the museum, it is an experience you won't forget," Morris says. "You walk away with knowledge."
With a degree in home economics and a studied interest in child development, Morris always dreamed of working in an educational environment.
Her love of learning is matched, perhaps, only by her love of people. Between an event planning operation with her sister and regular visits to family in Nashville and Jacksonville, it's all about connecting with people, and LASM is no different.
Whether it's a child eager to explore, a local setting foot in the museum for the first time or even a featured artist, nearly 20 years as a tour guide have introduced Morris to people from "all walks of life," she says. And Ms. K, with her warm voice and steady presence, sends each one through the doors with love.
Photo by Angela Major
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