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MY FOUNDATION (Early Years)

I grew up in a small town in rural Vermont, off a dirt road, without a single traffic light. I spent much of my childhood alone with my imagination, while occasionally employing the other neighborhood kids to assist me in my various entrepreneurial endeavors. Whether it was teaching, landscaping, making or chasing down the make believe monsters of the forest; I know I wouldn’t be the person I’ve grown into today without the stable ground that physical space provided me, it certainly was never found at home. Core memories of sharing wild strawberries with the neighbors and years later asking those same neighbors for help with my latest art project for school fundraiser, laid the foundation for what would become my faith in true mutual aid.

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It wasn’t until high school when I left my home for the first time at just fourteen years old that I was shown what true community could look like and collectively create. It took many friends, their families, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, mentors, and employers alike to create the opportunities that led me to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.) It’s estimated that roughly only 5-6% of people who have experienced homelessness were able to graduate college, so even being accepted given my circumstance was nothing short of a miracle within itself. Rides to work, school, figure skating practices, a bed to sleep in, a place to do laundry, a hug from someone who maybe wasn’t “supposed” to; all of these individual acts of not just kindness but humanity were what constructed the set of privileges necessary for me to climb the metaphorical socioeconomic ladder required to elude further adversity.

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I’m incredibly thankful for my time at SAIC, although it might have been short lived, it was certainly productive. Entering with nothing more than a basic understanding of the simplest forms of making, and a portfolio that largely consisted of digital photography (as this was what I had access to at the time) I left with the technical understanding required to create work in a diverse set of mediums. Along with the knowledge needed to conceptualize, talk, and think about my work. Most importantly, I finally began to understand why I was so drawn to the arts, and why I was so compelled by the act of making.

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“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

~ John Muir