This year’s all encompassing blog post is proof that 365 days are more than enough to make major changes to your life. One year ago I was overwhelmed with seasonal depression and feelings of loneliness and immobility. 2016 was a year of gallery shows and new work. I finally felt like I was a real artist. 2017 began with reevaluating my life and taking steps towards the future I had always imagined for myself. There is not a thing in my life left unchanged this year (for better or for worse).
Here I sit looking back on the year. It is with sincerity that I can say, I am happy with who I am, where I am and with all of the possibilities of a brand new year.
It never actually became 2017, at least that’s what working three jobs lead me to believe. With zero time off for the holidays (thank you Christmas for being on a Sunday), life went on as usual. I had a wonderful New Years Eve and Day, thanks to incredible family and friends, but immediately was forced to trade them in for Columbus.
Graduate school applications were due, and despite the unfathomable life upheaval they would inevitably bring about, I struggled to look past the here and now. I wasn’t feeling inspired and I wasn’t getting accepted into any shows. Life was at a standstill and I was determined to make that change.
On January 25th, a mere fifteen days after submitting my application, U of A emailed asking for an interview. This is the actual beginning to my 2017.
I interviewed with U of A on the 3rd and was accepted into their MFA program on the 8th (a solid month before hearing back from anyone else), 1/5 incoming photo students. I was awestruck, dumbfounded and generally speechless, amazed at the opportunity life had presented me and grateful for spending the additional year in Columbus to work and save.
“February’s been hard on a heart, but we’re near the end and it’s almost March.”
– Miranda Lambert
With grad school on the mind, life became much more bearable. I was terrified of the unknown that lay ahead but excited to be myself once again. Motivation to shoot was re-awoken and my need to run became stronger than ever. On a Wednesday evening, six of us loaded into my parents newly acquired Ford Windstar and headed south-east towards the Blue Ridge Mountains and what we began referring to as ‘adult spring break’. My coworkers asked why anyone would want to go tent camping in March. The answer was a combination of cabin fever and depression, a longing so strong for spring that I needed to pretend it was happening long before it had actually begun. We weathered a thunderstorm, wind advisory and blizzard three consecutive nights in that tent. We are better because of it.
Note: it was this point in history that I first set foot on the Appalachian trail (this may or may not be important to my story someday).
I needed March’s trip to the mountains to lift my spirits and carry me through to spring. April was a month of friends and parties, a wonderful Easter with my incredible family and a trip to see my favorite band (The Turnpike Troubadours) with my favorite concert companion. We drove to Philly for the show, staying on the wrong end of town and unknowingly crashing the NFL Draft. Instead of hanging out in the city, we headed out for a day at Valley Forge. The tradition of accidentally educational trips with Candace continued and we joked that this venture was the exact parallel to our junior high school trip to D.C. nine years prior.
May was lovely. May was a lot of time spent with family and some well needed time with friends. At the end of the month I set off with my tent to meet my parents, friend and dog at Hocking Hills to test out their first new trail in over 50 years. I hiked well over 15 miles that weekend and was reminded that choosing to leave my 9-5 was/is the right decision and that I am willing to sacrifice almost anything to make my dreams of a life in the woods a reality.
I also had my 5th and final recital at Bartelt Dancers, the dance studio and second home of my time in Columbus. This bittersweet performance was one of the best yet. I am eternally grateful to all of the students and staff who have welcomed me with loving arms into their community. Outside of my family and friends, Bartelt will be/has been the hardest to leave.
The reality of my upcoming departure had finally sunk in. Every waking second I wasn’t working, I was attempting to spend as much time with my family in friends which lead to an incredibly eventful month. I went on an impromptu camping trip at Mohican State Park, saw Tom Petty and Joe Walsh live in concert (a childhood dream come true and a cherished memory since Petty’s untimely death), visited my Uncle Jim’s donkey farm (aka one of my favorite places on earth), saw Baptism come to fruition, spent time back in the darkroom making pinhole cameras with my mom, held “Cosmic Prom” at my home, enjoyed swimming and fireworks with my family and quit my job.
Oh, and I also fell in love.
July was undoubtedly the most stressful, confusing and anxiety inducing month of my life. With four weeks until my impending departure, I was determined to make the most of my time left in Ohio. I camped at Lake Erie, watched 4th of July fireworks while drinking scotch on the roof, had a going away party, ran away to Kentucky with my parents and went tubrewing with my friends. On the day that I turned 23, it poured rain in true Ohio summertime fashion. I said goodbye to my boyfriend and to what had been my home for the entirety of my adult life.
I had asked for change and suddenly it was mine.
In August I moved 1,990 miles away from my home in Ohio to the Sonoran Desert. My parents, cat and I drove for three days across the country adding a plethora of new states to our repertoire (Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico). After they left me to my new life in Arizona, Tamrin and I spent the weeks before school exploring our new surroundings and falling in love with the landscape around us. Finally I had made it to the Grand Canyon and California (though I have yet to see the Pacific Ocean) where we camped in Joshua Tree, smelled the Salton Sea and visited Salvation Mountain. We drove 7 hours towards the setting sun to Los Angeles to see Willie Nelson play and then immediately turned around and drove 7 hours into the rising sun back home. We climbed a mountain to a hidden desert oasis where the water was icy and clear, then I began my graduate education and a life of teaching and academia.
Grad school was in full swing and the Honeybees were preparing to show Baptism at the Midwest Regional SPE Convention in Peoria, Illinois, my first out of state exhibition.
Baptism went to Illinois and so did I (my first time back in the midwest since my departure in July). I was reunited with my Honeybees and on Halloween my parents found a kitten.
Neil came to visit and my heart was happy. We camped in the mountains and spent a weekend hiking around in the sun.
I was making art once again and loving every bit of my new surroundings. Midterms were in full swing and I felt as if I had once again hit my artistic stride. A new aesthetic was beginning to develop with mud and found imagery, vernacular photographs and the curation of archives.
I finished my first semester of graduate school strong with new friends, colleagues, connections and momentum. My first semester of teaching ended successfully as did all of my projects and presentations. I went home to Ohio (where I sit now) with a sketchbook full of new ideas and the motivation to make them happen. An image from my series of Super8’s was accepted into ImageOhio18 (my first juried show of the new year) and life was seemingly on track. For and entire month I have spent every free moment with my loved ones, feeling festive, merry and bright.