What was my intellectual journey?
In theory, I do not feel as though I grew up a lot, or even that a lot of time has gone by. Then I look back at where I was at the beginning of college, and think oh yeah, she grew up.
For me, my intellect and my actions were very different. My intellect, being my thinking and reasoning, was so different then how I actually acted. I knew who I wanted to be but convincing myself I was actually capable of being that person was something that took a long time. I was not confident that I was where I needed to be.
Before I was in school, I thought I was an artist because people told me I was.
I was the daughter of two architects and was doing three-point-perspective before I was even reading and writing. I was always doing art or art projects. I was seen as an artist to my peers and faculty but, looking back, I did not see myself as one. That was at least until my apprenticeship with a woman named Rose. She was a well-liked local artist who I met at an art show and ended up working for her for seven years. She was a child that never grew up, she lived in a bright pink house with polka-dot walls, she painted huge canvases of trees that were allowed to be blue, and she taught me about pushing the boundaries of art. Her art made people laugh and smile. I knew then, that art was so much more than what you made it, but what others made of it. Knowing this, made me think maybe I was an artist.
Art had the power to make people feel.
I found my home at Plymouth State University where I knew I wanted to learn art, but I wanted to make art that meant something. I wanted to learn types of art, like graphic design, that I had never had the chance to do. I wanted to learn marketing and business so I could make the art persuasive with content. I wanted to learn psychology so I could get into the head of someone viewing my art. I wanted to learn communications so I could understand how to speak to people through my art. I wanted to learn about the environment and social issues, so my art had my passion and a power behind it. What I really really wanted was to major in “things and stuff”.
Little did I know, there was a major for that.
Being able to design my own major and be the architect of my educational path was everything I did not know I needed until I had it. It was the ultimate craft, and if you know me, you know I love crafts. I was, for the first time, able to understand what I need to do, to get where I wanted to go. I had, for so long, this image of who I wanted to be and no way of getting there because I was blindly following a traditional curriculum, instead of creating this liberating learning environment. Knowing about interdisciplinary learning was a huge game changer, and it made me think okay maybe now I am actually an artist.
Things fell into place once I figured out how I would create my major so I could use art to make people feel and understand things. Art was this visual channel of communication that I so desperately wanted to learn everything about. But what was I meant to communicate?
The organization SAVE All (sexual assault and violence education alliance) found me at a time where I needed it most. The people in this group taught me the kind of lessons you do not learn in school. They empowered me, they supported me, and most importantly they gave me what it was that I was meant to use my art for.
I wanted to do for others what the people in this club did for me.
I designed a large-scale self-empowerment art project. I got a canvas the size of the wall and invited others to paint their bodies head-to-toe in their favorite color and press their bodies on the canvas, to see themselves as a work of art. Art is beautiful, even if you do not like a piece art, that does not make that work of art not art. Art, no matter who likes it and no matter what someone does it, it is still art. I wanted people to reclaim their bodies and to know that they are art. I remember doing this and think okay I was definitely wrong before this makes me an artist.
I used all parts of my interdisciplinary major to design large-scale art projects like this one every year after this, to continue the message that you are art. In every club, every class, and every job I used art in this way, I used art to make people feel something, just like Rose taught me.
With every class I was able to bring something new to my next opportunity. I used my skills from event marketing classes in my internship for TitleIX. I put all the communications classes to use during running open houses and being an orientation leader. In my graphic design courses, I strengthened my design abilities and then put them to practice in working for companies like Bauer Sports and my own university. Even public speaking lessons gave me the courage to go into positions like Student Body President, a role I never saw myself in until I was doing it and loving it.
So many faculty and staff have pushed me, encouraged me, and given me the opportunities to become the person I am now. Day by day I made small choices to live as an interdisciplinarian, slowly becoming the person that four years ago I did not think I would ever be. I feel confident in my educate and what I want to do with it. I feel confident that I have all the skills I need to graduate, and I feel confident that I have the ability to be a forever learning. I feel confident in my art and my passion for using its power to change minds, so much that I think I can finally say that I am an artist and I have been this whole time.