If you read my last blog post, then you know I left off with my journey to college after years of floating around and trying to figure it all out. I told you I'd see you Thursday, and that was almost a year ago. I never saw you Thursday. Now that I'm blogging again, I figured it was only right to tell you the second half of the story. ANYWAY----if you haven't read Part 1, I suggest it. Now, onto part two!
I walked into the art school that first day on campus, eager to take a couple of preliminary classes all freshmen have to take if they are majoring or minoring in any of the arts. Since I planned on photography, I was first required to take drawing. I can remember sitting down in my very first drawing class of my very second try at college, scared, but excited to be doing something art-related for a couple hours a week. Was I cut out for learning?
About three classes in, I realized I was not only cut out for learning, I was obsessed with it. Something I didn't expect, was that just like all those years before, I was also totally obsessed with drawing. I tried to squash it down inside of me like I had done my whole time spent trying to "adult," but I couldn't deny it...I was hooked. I was going into the studio after hours, working on still lifes that were set up during earlier classes. My mom would call to see how college was going and I'd try not to mention drawing.
Being that I was a first generation college student, I felt a lot of pressure to succeed. While it was never explicitly said, I felt like it was implied that art was not a path to success. My parents valued the arts to an extent, but instead of following their own passions (my dad as a musician, my mom as a seamstress), they chose a much more traditional path. While they may have done the things they loved occasionally or every few weekends, I always felt like art was something they did until they got serious, and that it was a once in a while hobby they only got to do after all of their more pressing chores were taken care of.
So there I was, trying to squish down the flurry of joy I felt every time I walked into the drawing room, about halfway through my first semester when I decided that I couldn't do it anymore. I discredited myself a lot during my teenage years and early adulthood, and it felt like I was in an endless cycle of that. I was already trying to break that cycle by believing in myself enough to pursue school at all, but figured to fully break the cycle I would have to acknowledge that I was an artist first, and that it would be my only path forward.
All the other things I had done in my early 20s were just different forms of the art I craved, but they didn't satisfy in the way visual art did for me. So I marched down to my advisor's office and I changed my major right then and there to painting and drawing. I didn't know it then, but this decision would open me up to a whole world of art I never even knew about.
I went from wondering where my life would end up to being determined to make art and excited about what I could do with it. Once I allowed myself to believe that art was a viable option and that success was not determined solely by the capitalist society I live in, but what I decided success meant, I realized that I could do and explore anything I wanted. I started taking art extremely seriously and jumping on every artistic opportunity I could while I was in school. Going to school when I was older felt really good because I knew what a gift it was to be able to have everything I needed to make work at my disposal. Because I was so open to exploring, it lead me down a few different paths throughout my time in college. I changed my major from drawing, to sculpture, to ceramics, and eventually landed on Art Education after I found myself mentoring and teaching my peers all the time.
I ended up graduating with honors, having won numerous scholarships, some of which allowed me to travel as far as Italy to go to one of the greatest art events in the world; post-college me was a far cry from the scared and angsty 18 year old college drop out.
After college, I continued to explore. I built a studio, I started making rugs, I started doing graphic design work and illustration as a side-hustle. I worked in art museums as my day job. This year, I started teaching art to future generations of curious learners. I'm fostering in them the idea that art is not only fun, but a real and respectable life path if that's something they want to pursue. I don't want any more artists to spend the better part of a decade trying to fit themselves into boxes too small for their creative energy.
Art is only a risk if you say it is. If you've ever squished down your passions because you've been told they're wrong, I'm here to tell you they're not. You are allowed to be in love with the life you live, you should be, it's all you have.