I was born in Dayton, Ohio in the year of 1988. It was during the summer, June 29th to be exact. I was born to salesman and a hardworking, airline industry woman. Three years after my birth, did my parents add another little bundle of joy to the family, my sister. We both were put in different athletics from an early age. It wasn’t until I was near my double digits did I find my calling in swimming. I had always been a water baby, but the competition aspect of it really called out to me. I continued swimming for years, making it my full time sport. When I was in high school, if I weren’t swimming I could be found working on an art project.
I was accepted to Columbus College of Art & Design after graduating from Tecumseh High School in 2007. At CCAD I did receive a scholarship, which I was honored to receive. I worked so hard my freshman year; I even made the Deans List. Unfortunately, one thing CCAD did not have was a swim team. I started finding other ways to work out, but none as rewarding as swimming. I missed it so, that I started coaching. Every Thursday and Friday I would drive back home to be an Assistant Coach for the Tecumseh YMCA Swim Team. I would also go with them to there swim meets over the weekend as well. Coaching filled my void, besides granting me access to swim myself after practice.
After I completed my first semester of my sophomore year, I returned home. I transferred to Wright State University and changed from Interior Design to a photography concentration. During this time I was able to go back to my swim team and swim Masters for SPY, which was like home. One of my great accomplishments was going out to San Francisco, being dropped out of a boat aligned with Alcatraz and swimming back to shore. It was a freezing cold, 1.5-mile swim through fog and a tough current. I cut through it like it was nothing, because if I stopped I’d be taken a drift and off course.
The same year I went abroad to study drawing in Paris and London for my last college credit. I drew in the Notre Dame, Louvre, and the Musee D’Orsay to name a few of my favorites. I walked, I climbed, I ate, I bled from blisters, I drew, I wrote and took photos for every experience I had on those miraculous four weeks.
When I came back to the States, I soon graduated from Wright State University in June of 2012. From there I was employed as a Part-time Sales Associate at Victoria Secrets. I worked there for the next two and a half years while working two separate internships and applying for full time, art related jobs. One being for a woman in North Carolina who followed her passion for wedding fairy tales. I am one of seventeen artists around the world creating illustrations and book designs for beautifully gilded leather bound books for her company, Wedding Story Writer.
The second internship I’ve been working for the past year and a half as a freelance photographer for the Dayton City Paper. The magazine itself is focused on the people and events that occur in the Dayton area. I have taken photographs of the Dayton City Dance Company, Foy’s for the Halloween Special, Dayton Historians, Astronauts, and a Celtic band visiting the states.
While I have lived only 26 years, this is my bio up to this point. It is focused on my accomplishment during the more recent years regarding my professional struggles. I hope to add more swimming and certainly more success. I am currently an employee of PSA Airlines as a Crew Scheduler. It’s not art but it allows me flexibility and consistency to work on art in my spare time.
I have always been passionate about art; it is the purest concept that comes naturally to me. Professors have said I am fearless, making me quite formidable in front of a canvas or a pile of clay. In 2007, when I graduated high school and art was still relevant in the world, I was accepted to Columbus College of Art and Design. I was rewarded with a scholarship and made the Deans List my freshman year. It was hard being away from home, especially since I am the world’s biggest homebody. Sophomore year was quite trying for me, over my Christmas break I transferred to Wright State University in Dayton. It was near home and allowed me to move back into my warm and cozy bedroom, where I didn’t have to worry about my ex crazy, bipolar roommate attacking me. I also didn’t have to be concerned with my neighbors cooking Mexican food in the middle of the night to loud music. This was a mistake on my part for a few reasons. Their art department was small, they only offered Photography, Printmaking, Drawing and Painting, Sculpture, and of course Art Education. That was the career choice of many, Art Education. In comparison to CCAD where I was studying Interior Design, I had settled on Photography at WSU. That was mistake number two. Mistake number three; I left a school that was known for helping their students be placed in their fields and had mandatory internships in preparation for the real world. This is how I’ve fought to make it.
While at Wright State University, along with choosing photography as my concentration, I also added an Art Education Component. Mainly because my dad said I should, as a back up plan. That is what happens when we are forced to make life long decisions when we are young and naive. We turn to our parents for guidance since we truly are confused and unsure. During the week when I wasn’t in class or working on projects, and wasn’t at a public school student teaching. I would work for an Oral Surgeon as his assistant. I saw and did much that I would never have expected to do in any other job. Most of the patients needed their wisdom teeth removed, but others were there for implants, rotten teeth removed, and infections. The most interesting visits were the people with broken jaws. They had their mouths wired shut and the doctor would have to monitor them and make adjustments along the way. Those were how my Fridays and summer vacations were spent.
One cool thing my advanced photo class did, was something called a photo exchange with a university in Minnesota. We sent them our work where they hung it up with theirs and had an exhibition. Then they sent us back all the work because it was our turn to have the exhibition. The exhibition stayed up for about a month in the main building at Wright State University. The most interesting part about this exercise was being able to deal with issues and work them out like how gallery folk do. I received some experience and great interest through this exercise, but nothing interested me more then what I did next.
The last semester of my senior year, I was one credit course shy of graduation. Instead of spending an entire spring semester on one course, I chose to go abroad and have an intense two-week Advanced Drawing course in Paris and London. One of my best friends decided to go as well, which meant this trip was going down in the books. Her parents also lived in London, where we were fortunate to stay with them after the class returned to the states. We also went before the class and visited Rome before we met them in Paris. Rome is over flowing with art, Religion and history. It became overwhelming for my senses at times, especially since I am also Catholic. The highlight of Rome for me was the day we spent in the Vatican. We stayed in the Sistine Chapel for hours moving around slowly and examining every inch of each miraculous line that made up a figure or cloud. Afterward we were on such a high, we had to settle down by eating traditional Roman gnocchi with red wine and home made tiramisu flavored gelato. Rome had set the bar high, Paris was next on the list and I was excited to see what it had to offer.
Once we were in Paris, I never wanted to leave. The culture and the atmosphere is something so different from here. I don’t even feel the same energy in New York that I felt in Paris. It’s a combination of freedom to be your own person in combination of the art culture, centuries of history and liveliness for life. I never once felt unsafe, the city truly never sleeps and it is never dark and creepy. People also go about their business and do what they need to do to enjoy themselves. It could be from perusing the shops, museums or the beautiful landscapes. I spent days at the Louvre and I still wasn’t able to give every piece of art its proper acknowledgment. My favorite visit to the Louvre is when my friend and I decided before settling down to bed late one night, to run out on the town and go stop by the Louvre before it closed for the night. Needless to say we became lost, being earlier in the week and us not yet knowing our bearings. But by some force we made it just in the knick of time to run in, we spent our few minutes visiting the Mona Lisa. It was perfect; it was our own private showing. We were able to have our own little conversation with the Madame and Leonardo. It was such a moment; we both teared up and cried at the awe-inspiring moment. Our art lives were made for that moment, since we were taught about that particular painting at such an early age. It was the epitome of our schooling and also the point where both of us had reached the plateau in our art careers.
We spent the rest of the trip visiting other museums, cathedrals and drawing in each and every one of them. We explored the city until we had each historic site memorized down to curve of the stone roadways. It was a nice finale for a lot of us, since we had studied the works for so long. The feeling I get looking at a painting or a cathedral in person does not even remotely compare to the feeling I have just by looking at it in a history book. It’s an incredible feeling and I will never forget it, no matter what I found myself doing post graduation.
After graduation, I spent two years working retail for a very commercial company part time. All the while working art related internships. I found that in Dayton, Ohio entry-level positions do not exist. You either volunteer or intern. I have been an intern for the past three years. One of the companies being for the Dayton City Paper. I take photographs of social functions and of hard working people breaking loose. I have also taken photos of retired astronauts, Celtic bands visiting from Ireland, historians, and average people working everyday living their passions.
I also worked a six-month internship for a woman in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. She started her own business following her passion for vintage weddings. The goal is to give the blushing bride her fairy tale story. My job was to design her exquisite leather bond book containing illustrations and the story of her and her intended husbands romance. I was fortunate to be invited to the launch party at Sacs Fifth Avenue, and to see one of the finished books in person, it was a surreal feeling. My months were summed up of accomplishments, though it was short lived. After my internship ended, there was no job waiting for me at the end of the tunnel like she alluded, it was easier to use the constant string of interns cranking out of colleges each semester.
I have been a lifeguard, assistant swim coach, oral surgeon’s assistant, sales associate, photographer, book designer, long-term intern, and most recently a PSA crew scheduler. My life decisions at this moment have been summed up of what’s practical verses passion. As a society, I have constantly heard the phrase “follow your passions,” I have and I regret it. I have been thinking a lot lately where I would be in my life if I went down a more “practical” avenue. Would I be living the high life going out every night, being able to travel, buy expensive handbags and wear Jimmy Choos. Instead, I stay in to conserve the little money I have, work on the next big project and do chores so my parents don’t kick me out of the house for being a sloth. Life is truly hard and some people are extremely fortunate to have a break, mine has been a more prolonged process but I’m strong enough to make it happen and to not give up. I have already made my decision when it comes to passion vs. practicality, but I ask people who are at the age making that same decision about what do with your life. Do you have it in you to make the fight?