From the ages of 11–19, I spent most of my life at an art studio on the border of Missouri and Arkansas. Never did a color wheel cross my path, and never did I spend one second reading criticisms from old decrepit men of my favorite pieces. I simply just knew what spoke to me.
Everyday after school I would go to the studio and see the first mentor of my life, Marsha. I would start by engulfing myself in magazines while sitting on the floor of the backroom, away from everyone else. I became entranced by the way light seemed to awaken a moment in time, and memorialize it forever.
It was was the one thing my Mother could afford to give me. We didn’t have much — five kids growing up on welfare and on the run since I was 3 years old. Escaping a past so dark that only we will ever know.
I was incredibly meek and anxiety ridden for most of my childhood with glimpses of what felt like happiness, but they never seemed to last long. I felt alone for most of my life, until the day I found myself at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
I was 17 years old and standing in the middle of the Museum alone. I had stumbled my way into the impressionism room and was dumbfounded.
“These can’t be real” I thought “These simply can’t be real” as I moved closer to what seemed to be Paul Gauguin’s “Vision of Paradise.” As I did, it seemed to come alive with colors I had never before seen in my history books. I looked to my right to see other pieces from another one of my favorite artists, Mary Cassatt. I thought I was in a dream- never in my life did I think I would get to see the most precious pieces of art I secretly held so close to my heart.
Art had been a safe haven for me. I was allowed to express my greatest fears, my deepest intrigue and the boundlessness of my heart.
It was at that point I turned directly to my right and saw myself for the first time. I found myself starting into eyes that I knew had been painted by someone I can only describe as a soul mate of mine, Vincent Van Gogh.
Most lovers of his work settle on “Starry Night” or “Lilacs” as a crowd favorite, but me — I could never understand what it was that drew me time and time again to “The Postman.” I had poured through my Van Gogh books time and time again always to come back to that painting. Something about it haunted me, and struck me deeply.
And now, there I was standing feet away from something he touched. Not only touched, but created. Vincent must have spent hours in front of his friend — in front of that canvas, painting, studying, agonizing over the light, the colors, the everything…that makes up that great piece. My piece, as it were — because it was my soul I saw staring back at me through that painting. And I felt that depth for the first time.
So, I tell you — We do stand on the shoulders of giants.
That moment made me realize what an artist truly is. It is simply some who loves art. Someone who has at some point in their life — found themselves, staring back at themselves, and were touched so deeply that they would never forget again what that means.
That is the gift art gave me, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to honor that moment through my craft — whatever it may be.
So, I want to thank every person who has ever become a patron of art. No matter how small a contribution you have made to any person’s expression of themselves — it has allowed people like me to live a dream, know themselves, and know the depth of others through sharing this knowledge.
“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well”