By all accounts, I was a strange child. My earliest memories involve the awareness of being very different from those around me. Needless to say, most of my birth family just didn’t get me. Their alienation and disapproval coupled with gaslighting and abuse resulted in many mental health challenges. I don’t remember a time when depression and suicidal thoughts, attempts, and ideations weren’t common for me. As I aged, my tendency to self-harm as a form of self-medication became even more prevalent. Although I was finally removed from my birth parents by the state when I was fourteen, my emotional and mental baggage was still very much a part of me. The tragedies of my life seemed to pile up in endless supply and so at twenty-one when I discovered that my boyfriend/best friend had been cheating on me with his “real girlfriend”, I suffered a mental breakdown and attempted to kill myself one more time. Fortunately for me, I was surrounded by a network of friends who saved me. But I was still broken. And mad.
Although I had returned to the world, I felt as though I had left my heart and soul in that hidden realm just beyond the doorway of consciousness. I wandered around feeling dead inside. Or I did until one of my community college instructors changed things. I don’t know if she ever realised how much that one day changed my life forever, but it is one of the defining moments that make me who I am; a fixed moment in space and time. It was finals time, and our professor had chosen to give us a final project instead of a test. Additionally, she asked for our input in planning the project, and by the end of the class, I was alive again.
I remember coming home and revelling in the feeling of excitement. To go from empty and dead to feeling anything, much less happiness, was a HUGE change in my mental state. So I sat down to think about it. I realised that my happiness in the past had relied on other people. I had fallen into the trap of feeling as though I needed someone else to be happy. For the first time, I realised that power and been mine all along. I had to have more of it. It was then that I sat back and looked at my life and remembered how long art had been one of my passions. I remembered early drawings and colouring contests (which I had won) and hours spent teaching myself how to draw from books. In that moment I heard the call. I knew I had to make art to stay sane, healthy and happy. And I knew that I was going to dedicate my life to making art. So I did.
I compiled my best assignments from my graphic design courses into a portfolio and applied to the only public school whose art program required a portfolio for admission. And I made art. I dug through my issues and worked on my skeletons, making art so real and vulnerable that it made me cry. And over the course of my bachelor’s degree, I got the issues out while creating a cohesive body of work that spoke to my history and the power of art in helping me to overcome it. And then I asked myself, “Now what?”
I spent my senior year working diligently to answer that question. It happened by accident (or so it seems from my perspective). Our Projects instructor assigned artist shares to us – we found art that spoke to us and shared it with the class. It was in one of those sessions that I discovered the work of Cameron Gray and fell headlong into my own signature style. Drawing upon my lifelong passion for and study of mythology as well as my experiences with Buddhism, I decided to create a body of work that spoke to the universal human potential for transcendence.
And here I sit, almost six years later. It has been an incredible journey, and honestly, it has only just begun. Thank you, dear reader, for taking it with me. Until next time…