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Creative Global Network for the Visual Arts

so i started and stopped. then i started. then i stopped and started again. i changed the name of my show. i changed the concept. i changed the studio i was making it in. i changed mediums. i changed my mind. i changed homes. i changed my approach to parenting. i changed my process for making art. i changed jobs. i changed my life.

this is december through april. this is what i ended up making art about for my BFA show. the show i used to call "under my skin" became "mental maps". i worked totally intuitively on the mural part of the installation, coming in each day with no idea what i would create. i started some paper pieces off site from the installation some weeks in advance, which i schlepped back and forth between flint, tucson, and detroit in suitcases and plastic boxes. i used those paper pieces to inform the walls a bit, but then in the end, allowed the mural to inform the paper. i used layer upon layer of painting and drawing and printing. i wrote travel logs on the walls for each day the exhibition was up. i worked on the pieces in the gallery, in front of the audience. i engaged tentative audience members who would peer into the gallery, but hesitate to enter, not wanting to disturb me. i introduced myself, invited them in, and asked them questions about what they saw. we dialogued in real time, one on one, in the most intimate of audience experiences i have yet encountered. in this way the work became part performance piece, part installation, part traditional media. the travel logs were so terribly personal. i cried almost every day that i wrote. i cried off and on the entire final day of construction as i read them and painted. i processed very harsh criticism from my former partner about the propriety of the work. i processed the praise monte and others gave me for the positive power of the work. i received warm praise and suggestions for growth from my mentor professor, mary birkmeier, who introduced me to printmaking, along with other professors. i met a security guard, jenny, at the opening who said she would unlock the gallery and enter every night to read the next entry in my travel log. that was the single most powerful response i have ever had to my work. i was moved.

now it's time to turn the emotional page. my BFA is done. i am graduated from undergraduate. i sign a contract to start a new job tomorrow. i begin working with a prisoner re-entry program as a mentorship and volunteer coordinator. i begin my journey to engage with the prison arts program affiliated with my new job. i take another step toward graduate school, to complete an interdisciplinary master's degree in art and social work. i take another step toward realizing my identity as an arts activist. i take another step on my path of destiny.

and i lived this most recent leg of my journey through my artmaking. i actually made art about my life in reflection and in real time that allowed me to see certain truths that i am not sure i would have seen without going through that process. the pain that was previously existing under my skin, invisibly, was exorcised onto a mental map. i have never felt so integrated with my art before. i have never felt so honest and real. i have had a mystical encounter with my process. i feel honored by the presence of art in my life. and now i can go on.

i plan to begin making art about imprisonment, which is perfect, considering that i am now free to mentally move.

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