I remember sitting at the kitchen table in my red footed pajamas watching my Great-Aunt Lindy draw with colored pencils. I was all of four years old, but I was certain that I knew everything. Aunt Lindy began her drawing with small, soft lines and dots, and she would stop now and then to ask me what she was drawing. I furrowed my brow over and over again because she rejected my answers (Which were so obviously correct! Those most certainly were ovals. And THAT was a triangle). She finished her drawing, asked me a final time what it was, and as it dawned on me, my little eyes grew big. Her drawing was of ME.
I immediately rejected the belief that I knew everything about art and began my quest for understanding. I wanted to be able to do that kind of magic. Fortunately I had a patron. My grandmother embraced my passion and paid for oil lessons, drawing lessons, and watercolor lessons. She also purchased several “how-to-draw” books and indulged my every art supply whim. I was also encouraged in my artwork by fellow artists in my family, my Great-Grandma Rosie and my Great-Aunt Lindy. It seemed the art-blood came from my dad’s side of the family.
Then a unique family vacation shifted this assumption. My mother, who was adopted, reconnected with her biological parents, and my brothers and I went to meet them when I was ten years old. I discovered that my biological grandmother, Linda, was also an artist and that we had simultaneously created nearly identical paintings during the few years before we met. My family still finds this very spooky, but I take great comfort in it and was thrilled to discover art-blood on both sides of the family tree. (Years later, a few days after changing my college major from business to art education, I learned at Linda’s funeral that she was not only an artist, but had also worked as an art teacher for twenty years. This was a beautiful affirmation for my decision to pursue art education as a career.)
During highschool I almost abandoned the visual arts entirely for the love of theatre. I enjoyed performing, directing, and working on the sets and lighting for shows at my school and in the community. My experiences in this environment have influenced my practices as an artist and art educator by teaching me the value of collaborative efforts and the importance of fostering rapport while strengthening my skills in leadership and communication. Because of my strong relationships with friends in music and theatre, I encourage my students to contribute to and collaborate with musicians and performing arts groups.
When I enrolled at Florida State University, I declared myself a business major believing that I could do anything in the world with a business degree. One soul-crushing macroeconomics class shattered any desire to continue in that program, and I nervously changed my major to art education. I felt this would seem more professional than being a studio art major. Perhaps if I could also teach art I wouldn’t starve quite as much as I supposed that artists did. After consulting with my advisor and other art teachers, I made an even more terrifying shift. I would pursue my BA in Studio Art and probably starve to death.
Though I performed well in my classes, I didn’t feel that I was learning anything that could prepare me for the real world of being an artist. Then a sculpture class lit a fire in my heart, and I didn’t care whether or not I would able to buy food. My instructor, Jordan, became the most influential and empowering art teacher in my life. She recognized and valued my desire to challenge and encourage my studio mates and pushed my own work into a realm of higher quality. She helped me transition from graduation into the professional world of art-making and teaching, and I can still pick up the phone and call her with wild ideas and crazy questions anytime I need some encouragement, understanding, or direction.
In 2012 I decided to pursue my MA in Art Education at the University of Florida and have continued to work in over twenty unique art education settings. Working in several places has been taxing but educational. I now feel confident in choosing work that I want to commit to and prepared for this work by my studies at the University of Florida.