“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” -Keshavan Nair

About Lisa

Portait photo of Lisa KaganLisa’s artistic journey began before she could talk, painting life-size papier-mâché birds with her dad at their home in Northern Virginia. When she was a teenager she spent long hours experimenting in their makeshift darkroom, amazed at how a moment could be forever immortalized in the alchemy of light and shadow. As a college student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut Lisa wrote and illustrated her first family heirloom book, which would eventually become the genesis for the creation of Family Heirloom Arts. Her book, The Journey of Henry Kagan, was created as a way to honor her grandfather’s immigration story. Henry Kagan fled Russia due to religious persecution and journeyed to the United States as a young child. This story is profiled in My Words Are Gonna Linger, The Art of Personal History, an anthology published by the Association of Personal Historians in 2009. Discovering this incredible tale of survival and perseverance, Lisa recognized the importance of learning where you come from and honoring your ancestors by preserving their stories for future generations. She only wished that she had a chance to talk with her grandfather about his experiences before he passed away. In the summer of 2001, Lisa’s spirit of curiosity catalyzed her own migration to the west coast. Lisa only planned to spend the summer in Portland, Oregon, yet like so many she fell in the love with the city (and her husband) and now eighteen years later, she calls Portland her west-coast home.

From this point forward, Lisa began pursuing her passion for personal history by helping others share their life stories through art and writing. Since 2001, she has been teaching and managing creative arts programs at domestic violence shelters, schools, and community non-profits in Portland, Oregon. Through this work, Lisa recognized that giving people an opportunity to tell their stories has the power to transform their lives. They are better able to understand their past, gain confidence in their ability to address their present circumstances, and begin to envision their future. Motivated by the realization that participants of all ages and from different walks of life found strength and inspiration in the process, Lisa launched Family Heirloom Arts in 2006.

Since then Lisa and her team of creative collaborators at Family Heirloom Arts have produced illustrated heirloom books and custom art for clients throughout the country. Lisa offers ongoing workshops and classes at the Family Heirloom Arts Studio located in SE Portland, as well as weekend art and writing retreats through Touchstone Retreats program at retreat centers throughout the Pacific Northwest. She also provides educational programs throughout the Portland area at a variety of locations including; Multnomah County Libraries, Portland Women Writers, and at a host of schools, congregations, and art centers. Lisa is the co-founder of the Portland Chapter of the Association of Personal Historians; a professional association dedicated to helping people preserve their life stories. For the first five years after its inception, Lisa served as the co-chair of the Portland Chapter, now know as “Personal Historians Northwest,” working to educate the community around the field of personal history and the value of life story preservation. Lisa is also a member of the Oregon Poetry Association (OPA).

In 2009 Lisa released her first book of original work entitled Emergence, which is a collection of poetry and art exploring her own life stories. In 2014, inspired by the birth of her son, Julius, two years earlier, Lisa launched the Art of Motherhood program as a way to provide a creative and reflective space for mothers of young children to connect with themselves and other moms in a supportive and inspiring environment. In 2019 Lisa joined forces with Dawn Thompson (Director of Portland Women Writers) to start Touchstone Retreats program, providing participants with the chance to immerse themselves in the creative process through weekend art and writing retreats offered throughout the Pacific Northwest. In the winter of 2021, Lisa’s poems were featured in /pãn| dé| mïk/ 2020: An Anthology of Pandemic Poems, which was published by the Oregon Poetry Association (OPA). In the spring of 2021, Lisa released her second book of original poetry and art entitled Coming Home to Myself. Spanning a decade of growth and change, this book honors the importance of following your inner compass through exploring nine essential elements of the human experience: courage, passion, patience, grace, faith, resilience, wonder, gratitude, and renewal. Serving as an intimate companion for navigating life’s passages, this collection is an ode to the kindness and generosity that the world desperately needs and the power of turning that caring towards ourselves.

Lisa currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Lewis and their son Julius in a little cottage surrounded by a lush Pacific Northwest garden. She loves to spend time with her family on both the East and West coast, exploring, making art and telling stories. Whenever she gets the chance you can find Lisa out on a hike, swimming in a river or taking a long walk on the beach. In her free time she writes poetry, drinks tea, and daydreams of her next adventure.

I am inspired by the natural world with its infinite wisdom of design. The unconditional love of my family helps me to refill my well, stay true to myself and continue to believe in what is possible. I am inspired by the love, support and artistic collaboration I share with my husband and by the creation of our greatest masterpiece, our son, with his boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for life.

– Lisa Kagan