July 12, 2014

Reflecting and looking forward.

Here's how the story goes. I got an undergraduate degree in photography. I became disillusioned with school before I even graduated. By the time my thesis show rolled around, I was relieved and proud of myself- but mostly I was confused. I didn't know if photography was my medium anymore. It didn't make my heart beat fast the way it had when I was seventeen. So it was more or less like this: great, I've got a diploma- now what?

I started doing internships at art museums early on because it felt like this *safe* alternative route to pursue. I ended up working in the museum world for about four years, specifically art education. Everyone perceived me as being successful (wow! a recent graduate in this economy with a job in the arts!). But those close to me knew I was often miserable. I loved the children I worked with so much and the families I had the privilege of getting to know. Planning programming and hiring artists was thrilling. The clincher? There wasn't enough left in me at the end of the day to create. After a little while, when I would meet someone new, I no longer felt able to call myself an artist. When asked my profession, I would mumble "I'm a teacher", before quickly changing the subject.

Then, I lost my job. I'm finally able to say/type that without feeling any shame around it. It was without a doubt one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. It is only now that I am no longer reeling from the experience. But you know what? I wouldn't change it. It's been 14 months and my life looks very different now; most notably, I am worlds happier. Of course, there are still so many unanswered questions, and I still have hard days. But I want to do what I love. I am well aware that "do what you love" can be a dangerous concept. The thing is, though, I'm at a point in my young life (25) where not doing what I love would be the more dangerous path. Over the past year I've been chasing down scholarship opportunities at various craft schools. My first big break was getting a work-study spot at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine last summer. Then, there was the two month weaving concentration at Penland- a totally dreamy adventure in the mountains of North Carolina. And now, more good news! I'm going to Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Tennessee. My classes will be all textiles-focused, and I am hoping I'll be allowed to use a loom on my days off. How exactly did I go from photo nerd to fibers freak? That's another entry entirely.

After Tennessee, everything is up in the air. I want to travel so much. Specifically I am dying to do an extended backpacking trip in Europe. I am also tempted by Australia. There's really no telling where I'll land, which is both terrifying and perfect. My brain is bursting with ideas of what my future could look like. Will I go back to school and study textiles more in depth? Will my continued love for hand weaving blossom into something larger- say, an apprenticeship? A production line one day? And what about that recurring daydream of my very own brick and mortar shop? Oh, who knows. I'd best just surrender to the fact that I'm making it up as I go along. And I feel fine about it.

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