I'm an open book. I always have been, and always will be. I love hiking, hate beetles. I love the outdoors, hate being cold. I can't sit at a desk for too long, but can hunch over a painting for hours. I love cooking shows, taking pictures, and rock climbing. I always want to be surrounded by people, but feel most at peace when I am sitting alone in a park with my journal. I've known exactly who I was from a young age. When I was just a kid, I would run outside in the pouring rain and remove all of the worms from the driveway just to make sure my mom's minivan wouldn't run them over. No surprise I would grow up to be vegan. In middle school, I filled binders with doodles, sculpted clay trinkets, collected stickers, and wrote down ideas for books I believed would one day undoubtedly be published. I still like to think I'm a creative jack of all trades in that regard. In high school, I began to work really hard, because after my first real road trip to Wyoming, I discovered something: I loved to travel. It was intoxicating. I put every dollar I earned from my jobs and small creative gigs into my travel jar; a mason jar with a puffy globe sticker on it that sat right next to my bed. My room was lined with maps, postcards, canvases, and photos of my friends. Tubes of paint and pencils always cluttered my art desk. This is something that hasn't changed. I began dreaming of a future where I get to travel and create: the two things I love most in this world. A few short years and half of a degree later, I am finally able to call myself a full time artist.
In the years between that little girl doodling in binders to creating murals that span hundreds of square feet, I have made a lot of art. With that being said, I think this is my favorite piece I have ever created. In fourth grade I read a book titled “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Cheech. Even though I was so young, I latched onto two quotes that I’ve carried with me throughout my life. “In the course of a lifetime, what does it matter?”, and “Don’t judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins.” I wanted this mural to capture exactly that. We are all the sum of our unique experiences, and I think we could all use a bit more empathy towards one another. This mural is a collection of stories from people from different walks of life. When I asked each person for a story, I made sure not to give too many restrictions or directions. I wanted each individual to have a blank canvas to say what they felt like was important to their story. I didn't edit a single word, I wanted the stories to be their voice- what life is like through their eyes- in their shoes. I picture my fourth grade self looking up at this piece and being proud.
When deciding what pair of shoes I would paint that I believe best represent myself, it was an easy choice. I threw aside the sparkly boots you can usually find me wearing on rooftop dance floors and my converse that are splattered with rainbow colors I wear when I paint murals. I didn't choose my Birks that I throw on when I am late- running out the door to meetings and hangouts. Not my slippers that I sport around the house- always paired with a cup of coffee and messy bun. I reached straight for my hiking boots that my grandma got me six years ago. These boots have hiked hundreds of miles with me and have comfortably gotten me to the most beautiful outlooks I have ever seen. I feel most alive when I wear them- when I am looking out to thousands of trees and cars that look like ants. I have trudged through mud, water, dirt, and snow in these boots, and they never let me down. I have never even considered replacing them. Each scuff and rip is attached to a memory- a memory filled with giggles, photographs, and sore legs. I am thankful for the memories made in these boots, and I anxiously await the next time they will take me to the top of a mountain. In the meantime, I slide my grey slippers back on, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a paintbrush in the other.