It was the last month of my kindergarten year and our graduation was rapidly approaching. My teacher, who horrified me to no end, pulled me aside and asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I blurted out “Artist! I want to be an artist.” As fast as I said it, I was back to my seat hiding in humiliation because an adult had spoken to me--I was shy like that. For the kindergarten program my mom found me a beret, dressed me in one of my dad’s button down shirts and made a painter’s palette for me to hold. I, the artist, stood proudly alone with the other students; all of whom wanted to grow up to be doctors, teachers, nurses, athletes and presidents. That moment was the beginning of my life as an aspiring artist and my first lesson in what life would be like as a creator of art. I learned that I was on a different path from my classmates. I learned that I would probably be alone in my endeavors. I understood for the first time that I was different. Inside and out.
I am a “half-Chinese-half-Heinz-57-Wasp-topped-with-a-sprinkle-of-Native-American” born and raised in the Delta. I am extremely unique through and through and I have been told so ever since I became brave enough to talk and interact with others--I was shy, remember? My life, thus far, has been a constant exploration of what it means to be ME, a mixed girl in the South pursuing a life as an artist.
I have discovered that I love my town, Memphis, Tennessee. Though I have had several different addresses away from the Bluff City, my heart is and will always be here, and she continues to pull me back into her arms every time I am away. Some may say Memphis has this affect on me, but I have accepted that I am sometimes abrupt and honest. I don’t like to dance around the subject at hand, and I typically address all elephants in the room. I have found a love in teaching my craft to others. I get comfort in knowing that I am fostering a safe environment for other potential artists within my own community to grow. All of these things would not fit together if I did not include the role that my family plays in my life. Since always, they are who I am. My family has dug in into my heart, and rightly so, they are the basis of most of the decisions I make.
I have also realized that every beautiful picture I made before the passing of my father, a grief that weighs heavy on my soul, was a fruitless endeavor or practice for what I am making now.
Each piece is now a reflection of my personality, my grief, the love I have for my town, my teaching, and my family. They contain my whole heart, who I am and the woman I have grown to be--each representing a story or memory. As I continue to develop into the person I am supposed to be, my work also evolves into a more genuine product that reflects all of these bits that come together to create who I am. Perhaps it was the grief that inspired this different body of work, or perhaps it was motivation to become what my father always saw in me. For whatever reason, these pieces are a tribute to his love and his life.
Now a brave woman, I think back on the day that the shy little girl dressed in her father’s button down shirt told the world she would be an artist one day, and it makes me smile. It turns out I wasn’t so shy back then after all...
Thank you for reading this section. Thank you for taking the time to look at my work. It is with gratitude, love and honesty that I share myself with you.
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