I am riding that just finished a piece high right now so bare with my nostalgia here. Creating my work is like being in a constant state of reflection. Reflecting on past works, successes, failures, and stressors while acting on that reflection in the present moment of creating my work . I know we are always told to live in the present, but I find that some of my most rewarding experiences and emotions can often come from past reflection. As I am in the midst of beginning a new series and all the insecurities that come with it, I reflect on the things in the past that have given me courage and motivation to push through the artistic obstacles. More specifically I think about past people of who have said key things that have continued to drive me forward, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years later. Since I have become a teacher, I look back much more often on the pivotal roles certain ones have played in my life. First I would like to recognize my high school art teacher, Lisbeth Bucci, who is the first person to realize before even myself that I was able to use my "bad numbers" of 3, 6, and 9 in my artwork. If you have OCD, you know what "bad numbers" means, but if not, just liken it to the analogy that if you use those numbers in any action it immediately means that you will likely be kidnapped by aliens, die in a most unfavorable way, or throw a 3 year old demon from hell temper tantrum until you can "compulse" your way out of it. That moment when she brought it to my attention revolutionized my world and art making. I FINALLY had an outlet for my "quirk" and could communicate about it in a way that felt much more natural to me. Not to mention she was one of the few who actually read her email that my guidance counselor sent to my teachers at a time when I was at my lowest and then actually ASKED me how I was doing. I'll never forget how that made me feel, and it is because of that reaching out that I will always treat my own students as if they have a battle I know nothing about and to communicate with them in a humanistic, real way. Second shout out needs to go to a college watercolor and drawing professor, Matthew Daub, who built my confidence in going in deeper with my concepts to truly be vulnerable without fear of judgement. When we were in a conversation about my work once he said to me; "you know, you have the potential to really help people." I never thought about my work as a way of helping others because I was still in the mindset that it was for my own therapuetic needs. When he said that, something in me clicked, and I suddenly cared about the influence my work had on others, not in a way that my worth in my work all of a sudden was in the hands of others, but in a way that it could reach out and grab people, support them, make them feel not so alone, and help them in a time of need. These crystallizing moments continue to be motivating factors for me every time I feel stressed, or hit an artistic obstacle, or feel discouraged because of a rejection. The art world is filled with lots of that. My art making practice is so much more than just something I do. It is a potential for hope, for change, for communication, for comfort, and for belonging. So thank you to the moments of the past for continuing to influence my present, and while I move forward in motion, I will always look back to you in mind.