I Survived…and I’m Alive

My first full-time college year is far enough in the rear view mirror and I survived. Actually, I hit it out of the park. I took 8 classes this school year and finished with a 4.0. Yes, I’m extremely proud of myself. And, no, I don’t mind saying so. I rocked Art History and Composition 1, both requiring a significant amount of writing. I added to my Photoshop skill set in a Raster image processing class. I learned how to draw and discovered I’m really a pretty talented artist.

Here are my first ever drawings.

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Christmas – Graphite and Charcoal

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Chiari Life – Graphite

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Self Portrait – Charcoal

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Basilica Colonia del Sacramento Uruguay – Graphite

It wasn’t easy keeping up let alone excelling and you’ll see why.

I started full-time classes on August 26th. In September I changed jobs, but I was still working at my old job. For a couple months there I was working around 55 hours per week. Things just started settling down when I was promoted and had to go through 4 days of intense classes for insurance licensing. I took my test and passed the following Monday.

Early in December I was brought on as a freelance designer with a local design firm. I have had the opportunity to design for the Boys and Girls Clubs of NW Indiana, an Autism walk, and enter my designs for the NW Indiana House Raffle. For my own freelance business I have worked on an Attorney’s business identity, a non-profit organization’s logo, a for fun t-shirt design for cult survivors and I will be designing my teams t-shirts for the Chiari walk this fall.

I had 3 weeks off for the Christmas holidays where I was informed by my landlord he was selling the house. My house-hunt ended the end of January with a happenstance find. Which meant that I was moving at the start of my spring semester…without a truck, only a couple friends were able to help and in the midst of a blizzard. Not fun! I also survived a series of lay off cuts at work. Somehow I manage to keep on keeping on through the daily ups and downs of my Chiari.

Obviously, I was pleased to see the end of the school year. It sure has been nice and calm since then. I decided not to take any summer classes so I could fully recoup, but next fall I’ll hit the ground running as a Sophomore.

On my summer break I’ll be working on some goals for my future. I have some design business ideas that will hopefully provide a steady income. I also have a plan to see a longing of mine become more substantial. I really have appreciated the encouragement from my friends this past year. I really couldn’t do all I do without you all backing me and cheering me on when I grow weary. Thank you!

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Distinguished Honors Fall 2013

Distinguished Honors Fall 2013

I am so completely amazed that after all I have been through with Chiari Malformation, I have the ability to earn a 4.0 as a full-time college student. Even more surprising is that this 4.0 comes after taking my first ever drawing class…I had no idea I could even draw.

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The Sexy Lie

I have been pondering this subject for quite awhile. I have a slightly different perspective than most. As a former Baptist Fundamentalist, I  bought into the idea that women bear the full responsibility for the way men think of them. This wasn’t an easy sell for me as I question everything. Eventually, because I desired to be closer to God, I gave up most of the argument and settled for a weak compromise.

If a man lusts after a women, it is not his fault…it is hers. WRONG!

I had no idea that what was happening to me, and countless other women subjected to ridiculous standards of “modesty”, was a form of sexual objectification. Rather than seeing women as people, we were are seen as stumbling blocks to the purity of men’s thoughts and actions.

My blouse revealing more than 3 fingers of skin below my collarbone was enough to cause a man to sin. Any degree of my thigh being revealed was condemning a man to lust after me. Hardly ever did I wear a skirt or blouse without having them “modestly” adjusted with safety pins, or sewn up slits. I was always concerned about a man seeing too much. When I began wearing skirts to my knees, rather than all the way down to my ankles, I had to remind myself over and over it was fine because it covered my thighs when sitting down.

What does sexual objectification have to do with modesty? Well, I think it has a whole lot to do with it. Quite possibly, it has everything to do with it.

Men are treating women like objects, not as human beings when they are more concerned about controlling the way a woman dresses so they themselves don’t have to control their thoughts. They convince us that we are different than the world. That our modest attire is a witness to them. Never mind the price these women pay to be the scape goats for the lack of control men have over their thoughts.

And let’s not get into the fact that even now, with sub-zero weather here in NW Indiana, women in the Mega Fundamental Baptist church in Hammond, and it’s college, are wearing skirts and flimsy dress shoes. It’s snowing daily here, yet I see these women come into work everyday in skirts. And I literally grieve for them. Not only does their forced attire border on abuse it makes them the recipient of jokes and mocking comments. I highly doubt the men who deem this attire necessary would subject themselves to the bitter cold and mocking, to wear the equivalent of what some of these women are required to wear daily. Perhaps some might, but they would not last long before they had their warm pants and boots on.

Yet day after day the health and welfare of their women and girls is set aside. Why? Because it is the only solution to these men’s inability to control their thoughts. (Which is why I’m posting this video). After all, why should men be exposed to the natural inverted V directing the man’s eye straight to a woman’s crotch just so she can be warm? Why should he have to control his thoughts when he can control her dress? Meanwhile he participates in the justification of a more obvious form of objectification, while watching half naked women prance and preen for his favorite sport’s team.

Surely there’s no lusting going on there.

I digress.

I know my many church friends must think I have lost my mind. And quite possibly even my salvation. Who have I become? What happened to the preacher’s wife they knew and loved?

To be honest, she always questioned these things. But her love for her husband, desire to save their marriage and build his ministry caused her to shut up her mouth and go with the flow. Of course she still spoke up especially when it came to protecting the underdog.  Then she stood by while her missionary husband was told to “get her under control before she ruins your [his] ministry”. It’s a hard thing to control a strong woman. And a real man understands there is not need to do so.  But she got to the place where she quit fighting, and she was miserable not being who God created her to be. And she realized she better pick up the fight and never give in again!

I am the same woman they knew, only now I’m not hiding myself under any roles of objectification, sexual or otherwise.

I post this video for my daughters, for whom I wish I could go back in time to give them a different upbringing. One that is balanced. Not lacking in faith, but devoid of the legalistic “This pleases God” so do it my way attitude. I want my girls to know they are the most beautiful women alive because they are strong and accomplished!!!

And I want my boys to seek after women who are secure in who they are, not in who others make them to be or want them to be. I want them to be strong enough to desire a strong woman, and encourage her to grow in her strengths. There is an incredible beauty in the strength of a woman, that only a real man would revel in, never attempting to restrain or objectify. And dare I say it, an inherent pure sensuality that scares the wits out of a lesser man?!

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I’m Movin On

This song by Rascal Flatts is one that helped me move through a very painful time. It still brings tears to my eyes. This is for all those who are struggling, myself included, with a past they regret, burdened with blame and trapped in the past. Find the forgiveness you need. Trust others. Love again. It may not be easy but 2014 can be the year you move on.

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But…Unless

Two words that are so very important in determining if we will have an “I could have been.” and an “I am!” sort of life. Enjoy.

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Making Waves

I didn’t always want to be an artist. The closest thing I ever came to art was a stroll through the art museum. Creating art was for artistic people I was merely creative. I didn’t have the skills to draw an inkblot, let alone a masterpiece. In my mid-thirties, I started designing scrapbook pages. Which quickly led into designing informational pieces for a non-profit organization. I decided to pursue a BFA in Graphic Design and started classes in the fall of 2011. This past summer my dreams were surpassed with an internship invitation at “Creative Go Round” in Chicago.

I have a love-fear relationship with Graphic Design. I love the process of creating something out of nothing, bringing to fruition my clients vision is a thrilling process. However, the first steps in the creative process, hitting the project deadlines and meeting the needs of the client often overwhelm me. I always have moments of doubt about my abilities and wish I had picked something less subjective, and artistic, as a career. Then my muse comes to me; my pen records my ideas and the intimidation caused by the unknown retreats. My confidence builds as the ideas flow forth from my mind into solutions in graphic form. 

 I have often considered what it is about graphic design that draws me in. It is the power that graphic arts have in communicating truths to the world around us. I believe each person has a particular role to play in the lives of others. As a pebble dropped into a pond creates ripples, I desire to create waves that will have a positive impact on society. Creating designs that cause people to think critically about social issues, and thereby affecting social change, is my ultimate goal. I relate to the mission behind AIGA’s Design for Good platform, which is to “build and sustain the implementation of design thinking for a social change.”[1] This is where my true fervor lies as a designer.


[1] Design for Good, AIGA, http://www.aiga.org/design-for-good/

Licensed Agent

When I got my job at the call center I was thankful for something that paid a bit more than what I could make at the daycare. It was difficult to balance the start of classes, training for the job and working at the daycare in the afternoons. Somehow I made it work and I got a 4.0 in my classes, and got a promotion in my new job.

1391673_10151797413518922_1701689776_nLast week I sat down before a computer terminal to force enough insurance terminology to pass the state licensing exam into my brain in a matter of 4 days. When I clicked ‘finished’ on the state exam yesterday I really had my reservations. Since I had my Littles over the weekend I didn’t put in the time to study that I desired. I walked into the testing center praying I wouldn’t have to pay another $75 for the test. When the test proctor came out with my score his grin gave away my results. I passed! Barely. Very close to failing…miss one more question failing…barely. But I passed.

Now I can say I’m a licensed health insurance agent. My new job will be to present Medicare Advantage Plans…and hopefully sell many of them. We shall see. In the meantime I will take any forward motion I can earn. This is definitely moving forward in a decent job while I finish my BFA in Graphic Design. And it should mean I can give my kids a Christmas this year. Finally!!!

Brave

So many women need to hear the message in this song! I hope they take the time to listen to it, and can be encouraged to be brave as a result.

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big and brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/brave-lyrics-sara-bareilles.html#uDkbhzgOPDmwW3JM.99

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Scholarship Essay and Portfolio

I finished my first scholarship application for RMCAD. I have no idea, other than sheer will, how I managed to get this done along with full-time classes and licensed insurance agent classes at work. We were required to write an essay in response to a question posed about an essay by Walter Benjamin as well as include a portfolio of three pieces of artwork created for classes at RMCAD. They are included below. Enjoy.

The Essay:

Walter Benjamin declares in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction that, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” This is an essential foundation for his argument that a work of art loses its aura upon reproduction. With the examples of lithography, photography and film it is easy to lose sight of the point the author is making by focusing in on these means or process of reproduction as causing a loss of aura. Something to be considered is his example of aura when answering the question, “Does a computer generated image, which, by its nature, is meant to be reproduced, posses an “original” aura?”

Benjamin explains his use of the term aura with a reference to natural objects saying that, “We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be.” Illustrating through what one would see on a summer afternoon, he points out that the experience of aura of a natural object is in the shadow it casts upon us, and what I understand to be the majesty of the entity. One need only stand upon the shoreline to feel the aura of the ocean. It is a power and a presence that can only be felt by the person experiencing it. How I experience the ocean is different than might another person. What strikes a sense of awe in me can cause another to be fearful. In that respect, I would go so far as to say every object, created by a human hand or naturally derived, has its own unique aura that is never reproduced. Although I believe this to be a substantial factor in his writing, I don’t believe that is the entire purpose of the author’s essay.

I relate well to what Benjamin is saying when he gives an example of the stage actor having an interaction with his audience, while the audience of film is limited to only what the lens allows them to see. It took me back to the time I had the privilege of viewing classic works of art while they were displayed in the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain. As much as I wished cameras were allowed, so I might capture the sculptures and paintings for posterity, I have no doubt that the electronic reproduction of the masterpieces before me would never replace the feeling I had in viewing them in person.

For the purpose of this essay, I must determine if a computer generated image produces an original aura, in order to decide if the aura can be reproduced digitally. If I follow the logic of the argument that I believe Walter Benjamin takes, I would have to say that any computer-generated art is lacking an aura simply because it is produced electronically. Necessitating the conclusion that only natural objects–the mountains, the shadow cast by the branch, or the stage actor–contain an aura. Though he has almost persuaded me, I am of the mindset that he is mistaken, if only slightly.

I reject the idea that only nature contains an aura. Believing rather, that with all art, original and reproduced, there is an aura measured only by the whims and fancies of the viewer. Walter Benjamin concludes that reproductions have no aura; even so, the observer may disagree. Just as painted masterpieces hundreds of years old emanate a noticeable aura, it is entirely possible to experience a similar ambience from an electronic reproduction. Therefore, I surmise that a computer-generated image does have the possibility, at the very least, of emanating an original aura.

The Portfolio Pieces:

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Created for the Liberation Project in the Academic Connections for Artists + Designers class. Credits: Word art and body copy is my own work. Image from Shutterstock.com.

 

 

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The Shoe Mask assignment was to take a pair of shoes, tell a story about them and create something from them that the main character/owner of the shoes would use. The little boy in my story was disappointed that he must set aside his fun summer adventure shoes for new school shoes. His mother remade the shoes into a mask for him to use on further adventures.

 

 

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Part of a personal branding assignment we were to take information about ourselves and create several graphs, compiling them all into one document. This shows the places I have lived and visited, the years lived in those places and how I compare to other Americans.

Cherish the Crisis

Two years ago I jumped feet first into a college career. I’m so thankful my Aunt Bonnie encouraged me to pursue a continuing education. College has been a life preserver! Giving me a focus I never would have imagined I needed in this season of life.

My life plans and goals have become clearer as I’ve studied Graphic Design at Academy of Art University and now Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. One dream that has come to the forefront is to design for good. Though I plan to have a career as a designer, working for a way fab firm, I want to use the gifts and talents I have for a good cause and to have an affect on social change. (More on this later.)

Ten classes into my college career, I have some real talent and skills emerging that I never would have imagined. Did you know I can actually draw something more than a pitiful little stick man when I put a decent effort into it? But I still can’t draw a dog…go figure!

I enjoy the change and the growth that comes from a challenge. I never would be fully experiencing this artistic creative side of me, had my life not taken a dramatic turn. Crisis moments will become cherished moments if we embrace them for what they are.

Be sure to visit my online portfolio at Behance to see what I’m creating.

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