This was made just before I started junior college. This was a very difficult time for me. I had originally wanted to go to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, however, the school was expensive and the money simply wasn't there. I ended up enrolling in the St. Petersburg Junior College to get my AA degree. I was frustrated because I felt like I was putting my dreams on hold to take more general education courses. More importantly was the backlash I seemed to get from those closest to me. I had been creating art since I was old enough to hold a crayon and yet most people I knew seemed genuinely shocked that I wanted to make I career out of art. I wondered why people hadn't been taking me seriously for the first 19 years of my life. I felt like people thought art was this phase I was suddenly going to snap out of. As if somehow by magic college was going to turn me into a doctor or engineer.
Because I am the only artist in my family I felt like I had no one to relate to during this difficult time. I remember being so overwhelmed with frustration yet unable to talk about it. I've never been someone who bottles up emotion so I knew I needed to release it somehow. I created this page in one of my sketchbooks.
It became this one page that contained all of my raw emotion. It was executed in a very brash and uncontrolled manner. It was the visual representation of the anger I was feeling. Now I had a way to literally face it and move on.
I never threw it away because I wanted the ability to look back on it and see how far I had come emotionally and artistically.
The following work was the first piece of art I made at junior college. I think the only parameter for the assignment was that it had to contain writing. Since enrolling at the junior college I had committed myself to a renewed ambition to make a career out of art so I decided to write about that.
The words in the piece read as follows:
"Art is what I am made of. It will never be separated from me. I would always get mad at people when they told me to put other things in my life first. But art is what keeps me going. Anyone who ridiculed why I made art ridiculed my reason To Be. Everyone saw is as a fire of destruction, but I saw it as a fire of strength and growth. Everyone says that art is too hard to make a career out of, but if it is all I've wanted, why hold me back? I'm ready to give it my all because that is the only way I will ever be outstanding. I'm ready to let go with both hands and embrace what is mine. Art gives me a sense of wholeness that nothing else can. I'm tired of people testing my convictions, waiting for me to fail. Could it be so hard to believe that I know what is best for me? The one thing that makes great people great was their ability to listen to their instincts and say 'this is what I'm made for'. Letting go with both hands doesn't mean you have a safety net waiting. Letting go with both hands means you are ready to find your wings. This is not too good to be true."
Written across the edges of the landscape is a quote from a band named Trust Company:
"No one can see anything on the other side of me. I walk, I crawl, loosing everything waiting for a downfall."
I loved the way the lyrics tied into the piece. I had chosen to face away from the viewer because I was looking toward the future and walking my own path. I was ready to fly.
Much to my surprise most of the people in the class tried to offer me help because they thought I was suicidal. I had to explain to them that it was ultimately an optimistic piece about knowing who you are and allowing yourself to be that person.
When I look at this piece I see self awareness and hope. I didn't see my situation as a setback any more, I was just being redirected.