MY FOUNDATION (Early Years)
I grew up in a small town in Rural Vermont, off a dirt road, without traffic lights, I spent much of my childhood alone with my imagination. Occasionally employing the other kids on the street to assist me in my various entrepreneurial endeavors. Whether it be creating lessons plans and teaching, gardening and making extensive pathways in the forest, or simply running from make believe monsters. I know I wouldn’t be the person I’ve grown into today without the stable ground that physical space provided me, as I certainly never found that at home. I remember sharing the wild strawberries I’d pick with the neighbors, and later in life asking those same neighbors for help with school fundraisers, or becoming their gardener, dog walker, babysitter or whatever else they may have thought I was capable of. This laid the foundation for what would become my faith in true mutual aid.
It wasn’t until high school when at just fourteen years old I left my home for the first time that I was shown what true community can create. It took many friends and their families, along with teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, mentors, employers alike to create the opportunities I was allowed to eventually end up at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.) For frame of reference it’s estimated that roughly only 5-6% of people who have experienced homelessness were able to graduate college, so even being accepted given my circumstances was nothing short of a miracle within itself. Rides to work, school, figure skating practices, a bed to sleep in, a place to do laundry, a hug from someone who maybe wasn’t “supposed” to, all of these individual acts of not just kindness but humanity, were the moments that created the set of privileges necessary for me to truly better the situation for myself.
I’m incredibly thankful for my time at SAIC although it might have been short lived, it was certainly productive. Entering with nothing more than a basic understanding of the simplest forms of making, and a portfolio that largely consisted of digital photography (as this was what I had access to at the time.) I left with not just the technical understanding on how to create work in a diverse set of mediums but also how to conceptualize, talk, and think about my work. Most importantly I finally began to understand why I was drawn to the arts, and why the act of making was something that I was so insistently drawn towards.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
~ John Muir