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10 January 2010 @ 10:54 pm
While attending the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Summer Seminar just this past summer, we hiked the Great Sand Dunes in the heart of the Colorado mountain ranges. This daunting task seemed absolutely impossible. At first I kept up with the rest of the eager young artists to get to the top; however, I slowly found myself between the large gap of those far ahead, and those far behind. Feeling alone and unprepared, I refused to desert my goal to get to the top, regardless of any physical discomfort or doubts. Trudging along in the never ending sand, I began to realize two things: if I used the vague footprints of others, the chance of sliding down the steep slopes lessened immensely; and if I stopped at the top of each slope and looked around at my progress, I gained a new breath of encouragement and determination. Losing myself in the philosophy these two simple acts, I quickly found myself at the top. Taking a deep breath of accomplishment, I looked around at my well-deserved view of the beautiful mountains and endless waves of sand. The thought that had crossed my mind at that exact moment was, “This is MY life.” Surprising myself at such a bold statement, I have thought about it ever since that day. Over time and pondering, I have come to realize this event beautifully illustrates every aspect of my life. It is the extended metaphor that runs my life from birth to present, creating a foundation of beliefs and philosophies I can fall back on, regardless the situation.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, to the parents of Mike and Cathy Hancey, I came as a bundle of smiles and creative ideas ready to burst. Ever since I can remember, I was always creating and always dreaming. Doodling on scrap paper during church every Sunday was the start of my dreams to become an artist. My encouraging parents loved the dream I had created for myself. Without knowing it, I began my quest as a young artist similar to those phenomenal artists who learned to draw and paint by observing art in their local cathedrals. By following in the foot prints of great artists before me, I subconsciously confirmed my love for art by taking this Sunday activity to school and my education. I looked forward to every art class I had signed up for with unexplainable excitement. After the start of third grade, my family and I moved to a comforting suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Instantly becoming close with my art teachers, I would spend hours after school working on projects and talking about art.

Unexpectedly, we moved to a very small town outside Rexburg, Idaho the summer before my freshman year. Art was not appreciated and did not hold up much of an importance next to sports and other activities. Having a hard time adjusting to the sudden change, I struggled in school and my grades were dropping. When it seemed like I had hit rock-bottom, I stopped; I became quite, literally and figuratively. I looked around at my life, thoroughly inspecting every corner of my soul, I reminded myself of my personal legend. I reminded myself of those quiet Sundays and long school days that I lived and breathed art. I reminded myself of how far I had come, and that I shouldn’t sink into the sand of teenage hood and self consciousness. Doing my best to nourish my dreams again, I entered artwork into every student gallery and competition I knew of. Winning first place in small competitions such as The Veterans of Foreign Wars Annual Patriotic contest helped me by giving me courage and hope. I was trying the best I could to not lose sight of my dreams. After time, I felt like the warmth of having a dream was beginning to growing cold yet again. Then I hesitantly applied for the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Summer Seminar Scholarship. The excitement I felt when I found out I had been accepted reinvented my dream and hope of being a wonderful artist.

The lessons, both of art and life, I learned in these two intense weeks confirmed everything I had ever hoped for. My whole life I knew what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become; I just did not know exactly how I was to achieve this. The possibilities and opportunities that opened up by this incredible program changed my life. I felt like I had made it over another steep slope, giving me the inspiration and ambition to keep going, keep creating, and keep living art. Having been surrounded by many young artists from all over the nation, I also realized I had been a large fish in a small pond for a good portion of my life, when in reality I am a small fish in a large pond. I realized I am not the best of the best. I know I have so much to learn and so much to do; but I have the will. I have the endless flame burning inside me to reach the top. I am willing to do whatever it takes, climb as many slopes, and trudge along through any hardship or trial, to ensure myself that I will get to the top.

Currently as I continue to climb the sand dunes of life, I have a new feeling gratitude and sense of duty. Shortly after I arrived home from the summer program in Colorado, my family and I moved 200 miles away to an even smaller town outside Twin Falls, Idaho. My graduating class has only 14 students. With such a small school, there is no art program; in turn, sports dominate every aspect of this community. Students who have never been interested in sports feel forced to join the teams in dire need to feel like they belong somewhere. After having gone from an incredible art program, to a small art program, to no art program at all; I saw a huge potential for fellow students to grow in something they love. I am so grateful for the opportunities given to me by the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation; I feel a burning duty to give to others what has been given to me. I have taken it upon myself to form an after school art club for those students who deserve to feel like they belong to something they love. I have been teaching the few committed students everything I know about art. The change I have seen in their self esteems and attitudes towards life has been so fulfilling. I now know the joys art can bring to lives, other than just mine. I now know the happiness that can come through doing something you love. Through this art club, I have seen in myself something I have never seen before. My love for teaching has become so abundant, it is equal to the love I have for creating art.

As I come to vital crossroads in my life, I take the time to stop and reflect back on my progress, my change, and my future. I look up towards the top, and see it coming closer and closer. By simply following in the footsteps of those before me, and remembering to be grateful, I have made it all right. I have made it farther than I could ever hope for, and I continue to hope for more.