Thriving, Not Surviving

After about four years of just simply surviving day-to-day, I finally feel like I am thriving.

I started school again in January and I am pursuing my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education with a concentration in Community Practice and minors in Psychology and Social Work. I am taking Foundations to Studio Art this semester which is a nine credit hour class. I absolutely love this class. It was dissected into four different units, with four different professors, all great. The first 8 weeks we had Creative Thinking on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-5pm and Observation and Visualization on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5pm.

I loved my creative thinking class. Our first assignment was inspired by Marcel Duchamp, who would create “Ready-Mades” which are pieces of artwork that are made of seemingly random every day objects. He would take things like a urinal and put it in a gallery and call it art. Our assignment was to make a ready made with the prompt to make something invisible, visible. The example she gave us is women’s inequality is something invisible, so with art we can make that visible with the eye. We were also asked to make an artists statement about our piece. Mine is pictured below:

My artists statement reads, ““Weightless and Wasted” is a Readymade piece created from an ordinary bathroom scale. My intention of this piece is to bring to light an often invisible mental illness known as an eating disorder. I have positioned the scale in front of a mirror because the illness is often associated with and disguised as vanity. The scale resides on top of three pairs of small jeans that fit me last year when I was hospitalized for my own eating disorder. The scale is placed on this pedestal of denim to show that it is often praised in our society to inhabit a smaller body. The scale reads “0.0” because no matter how low the number on the scale goes, it never feels like enough, leads to wasting away, and ultimately results in nothingness and death.”

I felt so excited and inspired making this piece. I felt like I belonged in art school and I found my place. And this was only our first assignment.

Another assignment we had for Creative Thinking was to write about our entire life in 20 sentences. Here are mine:

  1. I was born and raised in Mtn. Home, Arkansas to a family of two loving parents and two older brothers. 
  2. I was 5 years old when my loving parents went through the process of a nasty divorce and my tiny world was shaken apart. 
  3. My oldest brother coped with the chaos and stress of this divorce through aggression, violence, drugs, and alcohol which was also hard on our family. 
  4. I grew up loving art, music, reading, outdoors, soccer, spending time with friends, and running. 
  5. I graduated high school and moved to Fayetteville in 2014 to start college at the University of Arkansas where I changed my major 5 times before graduating. 
  6. While at the University of Arkansas, I practically lived at the HPER building for 4 years, working over 8 positions including student manager, personal trainer, and a paid internship that counted as class credit for public health. 
  7. I played French horn in the University of Arkansas Wind Ensemble and marched in the Razorback marching band.
  8. I also ran 13 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and the world’s shortest ultramarathon. 
  9. However, my college years had struggles too. 
  10. My sophomore year of college, I was raped after a party by someone I knew. 
  11. Following this, my mental health began to gradually decline. 
  12. My junior year of college I was sexually assaulted by my bible study leader on my 21st birthday. 
  13. The Christmas and New Years following this birthday, both my grandmothers passed away, which I was very close to. 
  14. My senior year, I was raped again by a coworker at the HPER and I reported the experience to the police and Title IX on campus. 
  15. Title IX decided there was not enough evidence to make a case so it was dropped until another girl reported a similar experience. 
  16. I (barely) graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2018 with a bachelor of science in Public Health. 
  17. On January 8th, 2020 I attempted to take my life and spent 24 hours in the ICU and 6 days in the hospital. 
  18. As a result of my trauma and mental health, I have spent time in 2 inpatient and 4 residential facilities for complex PTSD, an eating disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder. 
  19. While in these facilities I have learned that I am resilient, strong, and full of life, light, importance, and I gained a passion for art therapy. 
  20. After gaining my voice and power back through art therapy in treatment, I returned to school to become an art therapist so I can help others take power back over their own story and find healing. 

After writing our 20 sentences and presenting them in class, we were to draw a symbol that encapsulated each sentence and then arrange them into an exhibit on a wall. Mine is pictured below:

These were just a couple of the cool assignments we did. Meanwhile in Obs & Vis (Observation and Visualization), we were drawing a lot of still lifes with charcoal. It was kind of repetitive and tedious but helpful nonetheless. Below are some of my drawings.

This last one was HUGE. Way out of my comfort zone with the charcoal and the sheer size of it.

The second eight weeks, Studio is split into Form and Surface on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-5pm and Form and Space on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5pm. These are kind of like into to 2D and 3D art classes and I LOVE them. My teachers are so great.

In Form and Surface, our first assignment was to create 10 images based on 10 different prompts.

The Prompt for this one was “inside or outside” so I did the inside of a toilet. My caption for it was “Interior – “Interior of a Toilet”, graphite, 8×11. The first time I made myself throw up, I was 11 years old. I’ve had bulimia for 14 years. Ive spent far too much time with my head in the interior of a toilet.”
The prompt for this one was A World so I did a mother’s world. Watercolor 5×7
The prompt for this was self portrait.
The prompt for this one was “Truth or Lie”

Another self portrait I did for this class was a self portrait for 2020:

We had to pick an element of design for this one and mine was Emphasis.

And lastly, my Form and Space class has been so much fun. Each project we work with a new material.

First we started out with string

Next was wire. We had to make a hybrid animal. I made a giraffe, duck, pig.

After this was fabric. We had to make a vegetable as big as ourselves. Our professor taught us how to use sewing machines and I youtubed how to make a ruffle for my huge kale.

Now we are working on cardboard, next is clay, then wood.

I am also taking Art History Survey I and Philosophy. I have over 100% in philosophy which is amazing considering I failed it the last time I took it. I also have an A in both studio and Art History. So this semester I will probably get all A’s for the first time ever in my college career.

In my recovery from my eating disorder I’ve been doing really well. I have been completing all my meals and my dietician told me I am allowed to start training for a 5k so I’ve been running a little bit which has been amazing and great for my mental health. I also smashed my scale with my car which was a big deal.

I also just got a call that I was chosen for an internship at the Yvonne Richardson Community Center as their Tyson Summer Intern! This is a huge honor and I am so excited to work with those kiddos and families this summer.

It finally feels like I am thriving and doing so well. I don’t remember the last time I felt this stable and like I can take care of myself. I am my first priority and I am actually doing really well. I am so hopeful for the future and being an art therapist some day.

Thank you all who have supported me and are following along with my journey. I am finally in the light at the end of a very very dark tunnel and it feels amazing. I can finally breathe easy.

2 thoughts on “Thriving, Not Surviving

  1. I’m so happy to hear you are doing well! I can see the glow of happiness on your face. You have beautiful art work!


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