Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

Chelsea and guitar

Gearing up for live performances during my thesis exhibition.

 The weeks leading up to the thesis exhibition and graduation have been a whirlwind. I have been preparing for this for two years. The looming deadline isn’t any less intense. I returned to Chicago early last week (while my car was fueled, I was running on fumes), and have been non-stop, feet-on-the-ground-running, pedal-to-the-metal 

These past two years at Columbia College are years that I will remember as the weirdest, best, and most challenging days of my life. I relocated to a new state and into the cityI made friends that I hope to have forever; I taught my first college class and then faced the challenge of transitioning it online as the pandemic roared; I moved back home again, where I worked and taught in my basement; I overcame numerous personal hardships (as most of us have) and have been forged into an even stronger person; and my professional and artistic practices have been shaped into something that I never expected they would be.  

One extraordinary lesson that I learned at Columbia was that, though I have extremely formalist tendencies, I am an activist—all my skills and experience can be used to speak for justice. When I began my program, I was making large ceramic sculptures that commented on societal issues but were purposefully ambiguous and more comical than thought-provoking. My practice and the work that I will show for my thesis have culminated into something considerably more meaningful. 

I will talk about my work shortly, but I want to share with you a gift that the Fine Arts program at Columbia College gave me. This program taught me to see. Through our courses, it taught me how to see how history has shaped the spaces through which we move and which we are a part of—and it has taught me how to see beauty and potential. With that, it taught me to see my work in many forms outside of making, and to embrace long-term projects beyond a material outcome. I have learned to see other people for everything that they are—and how to work to acknowledge and respect our differences so that we can stand closer together. Most importantly, through the interactions with my cohort, faculty, peers, and every person I have met in this program, I have learned to see myself—to better understand my place in the world and what I can contribute to it 

Mia Zapata in progress

In progress detail from my Mia Zapata drawing.

My work has culminated in a series of publications and other works that focus on women’s issues. I have created an artist book, a zine, and a music EP of original songsThe artist book is about my family from 2019-2020 through a matriarchal lens. The zine is an urgent means of communicating ideas and is available for free download and distribution. The music EP is also available for free download and includes three songs: “Stalk U Back,” “Little Blue Pills (Ode to Viagra),” and “Girl Crush on My Gynecologist” (there may also be a hidden track *wink wink*). In conjunction, I will exhibit some mixed media works including small collages on Masonite and two large drawings—one of Mia Zapata, lead singer of The Gits, and one of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, the Van Gogh of obstetrics and gynecology. 

EP Demo Cover Art

The cover art for my EP.

So much has changed in such a short amount of time. My future plans are to open a feminist press, teach foundations in art, and possibly apply for a doctorate program in women’s studies as research is integral to my practice. What can I say but “Thank you.” to Columbia College Chicago. My time here will be forever remembered as the catalyst for what I aim to be. Thank you, Columbia and every person that has come into my life through this program, for everything. I finally have my wings and am learning to fly.