Join the Bainbridge Public Library – Permission to Pause – The Tiny Talisman Project by Deborah Rhee

The Bainbridge Public Library is dedicated to spreading the joy of reading and the discovery of ideas with not just our local community, but with visitors from near and afar. In addition, the library is fortunate to house beautiful local works of art both inside and outside the building.

Prior to the pandemic, the library celebrated a new local artist (or artists) with an exhibit, which opened monthly on the Island’s First Friday Art Walk tour, and included a reception hosted by the featured artist.

Although the Art Walk has not resumed for the library yet, they are honored to feature “Permission to Pause – The Tiny Talisman Project” by local artist, Deborah Rhee for the months of June and July.

Artist Deborah RheeDeborah is an Australian born artist, who moved to the United States with her husband and daughter in 2010. Their first stop was in Texas, where she built a client base which she is still involved with today. From there, Deborah and her family moved to the Bay Area, and eventually, wanting to be near family here on Bainbridge Island, they relocated once again. As she told me, “After 3 moves to 3 states in 8 years, I am forever starting again!” and she certainly has embraced her new start on Bainbridge.

As Deborah told me, “2020 is not likely a year many would wish to repeat but one of the positives was a permission to pause.” As a painter, she thought she would be able to navigate the pandemic by spending long hours in her studio, working out the stress of the situation. Instead, she found that she was stuck, experiencing something akin to the painter’s equivalent of “writer’s block”.

Like many artists, Deborah’s paintings are a means to process her emotions through her work, and although she still painted, her solace came in the form of something different, painting tiny talismans.

The project initially began in 2016 when she was feeling at an all-time low and wondered what she could do to change her perspective on life and the world at large. That change came in the form of a collector of her work, who felt Deborah’s pieces energized her and helped her to re-balance. She requested a custom miniature artwork that she could take with her on her travels.

“On making that tiny talisman for her, I realized that it is something I have to offer and decided to leave miniature artworks in my community for people to randomly find. I hoped it may lift someone’s spirits and make them smile. Science says a smile boosts endorphins in the body, endorphins make us feel good, so that is where I put my energy.” Deborah said of the project.

When the pandemic hit, she no longer felt comfortable leaving seemingly random items for people to collect, however the creation of the talismans were calling out to her and she refocused, turning them into cards and sending them to friends all over the world. She found this process restored her own sense of balance and calm through the application of color and the self-soothing repetition of small mark making, something usually found in her painting practice. She also noted the joy in giving these small pieces helped others to feel good, and in turn it brought further balance to her own work, as she described it, “How often it is, that in giving we receive.”

In addition to sharing her talismans, she discovered it had become a “pay it forward” project that anyone could participate in. She created a Facebook page called Revolution-art with heart, where creators can share their own “tiny talismans” and experiences.

Permission to Pause Tiny Talisman Project by Deborah Rhee Bainbridge Island Public LibraryYou can find Deborah’s exhibit inside the library entrance on Madison and be sure to visit the garden on High School Road, where you’ll find something special amongst the trees.

Deborah Rhee tiny talisman in tree - Bainbridge Island Public LibraryDeborah’s primary medium is oil and glaze, its sculptural qualities allowing for brush strokes, scraping, scratching and adding layers of color, which inspires Deborah to paint expressive works of colorful light and intriguing deep texture, creating abstract paintings that spark the imagination and ignite the visual senses.  In addition to her painting, she’s spent time experimenting with art journaling and translating the process to smaller works (under the tutelage of Erin Faith Allen).

In addition to the Bainbridge Public Library exhibit, Deborah’s work can be found at Millstream on Winslow Way and through her website at

She also does complimentary consultation for commissions and her works can be shipped domestically and internationally.

The First Friday Art Walks will resume in July 2021 – details to follow.

As always, thank you for supporting your Bainbridge Public Library and local artists. If you have interest in exhibiting your work, feel free to contact Linda Meier, art coordinator, at


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