"You are lucky" says my mother. "You have a talent and you have know what you want to do your whole life."
Two weeks before graduating from college, I gave up pursuing a Masters in Psychology to go to art school. The reason this decision was so fear-inducing is because I had spent the previous seven years thinking I wanted to be a Psychologist, all the while denying my desire...my "calling" to be an Artist.
I had spent the past twelve years watching my brave, strong, and single mother struggle to pay the bills and send her two daughters to college. I had chosen Psychology because of the financial security I thought came with it. If I became a Psychologist, surely I could end my family's financial woes, live comfortably, and do something I "liked." I could still do art, as a hobby, I thought.
On the opening day of my senior art show, people entered the gallery and gravitated towards my piece "Monument." They viewed the photographs. They read the text. They absorbed the gravity of the subject. Some cried. But most importantly, people talked. My art became something more than just the images and objects in the room. It created a moment..an opportunity for dialogue.
That night I won the senior art prize. The committee announced the award and gave remarks: they said my piece gave them "hope for humanity" and that it was work worthy to be in a museum. I was floored.
Changing the World Through Art
Later people told me that my piece helped them confront their own sexual assault, talk about dating violence with family and friends, inspired them to help victims... I knew art could be powerful, but I did not know that I could harness and wield that power. And so, I realized that if I wanted to make a difference, to change the world, I would do it through art. I believe that artists should use their creativity as a tool for communication, and as artists, we have a responsibility to use our gifts to make the world a better place. By pursuing an MFA, and therefore having access to a full range of equipment and space, I will be able to reach a new level of artistic honesty and achievement.
I try remind myself of this everyday, and each day my own fears and doubts threaten to steer me off my chosen path. Changing the world through art is a tall order. For the moment I am focusing on smaller steps.
My first step was to apply to (and be accepted to) an MFA program. This stage had me in the studio every day after work from 5pm-bedtime creating art. The second step, after graduation, is to begin my career as an artist and pursue a concurrent career in higher education as a professor. I am passionate about teaching, and I wish to help other young artists to change the world through art.
Why I Need Funding
I recieved this fortune the day I got my acceptance letter to the MFA program. I was reluctant to accept the offer due to financial reasons. After reading this fortune, I sent my deposit and acceptance of the offer.
After 3 years of working on this goal, I have been accepted to a prestigious MFA program, offered a partial scholarship, and a teaching assistantship. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue my MFA and a career as an artist. Unfortunately the financial aid I have recieved will only pay for part of my education, and does not include cost of living or art supplies. For the past 3 years I have been working full-time, but student loans from my undergraduate degree, cost of living and buying supplies to build my portfolio and apply to graduate school have prevented me from saving for graduate school.
I am of the belief that financial circumstances should not prevent anyone from pursuing educational goals. All funding recieved will go directly towards my educational expenses.
I will advocate for, educate and mobilize other young artists to transform the world through art. Although I cannot promise an immediate return on investment, I promise to use my education and connections established through graduate study to help other artists. I am currently writing a book, which I hope to publish shortly after graduating, to help young artists. I have also been working for 4 years to establish a national art honor society within higher education that will recognize outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in the field of fine arts to provide funding for projects and education. Currently no such honor society exists.
I have been an active mentor and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for over 6 years now. Through graduate study I also plan to foster connections between organizations like Habitat that advocate for human/animal rights and the art world to increase awareness and social change.