My friend Margarita and I have been friends since college. We both went to art school and then into the field of education when making it purely as an artist began to seem impossible. Art school was exciting, I’m glad I have my BFA, but I didn’t leave feeling prepared to enter into the art world, instead I left feeling a bit defeated and mentally wrote myself off before I really tried.

I went to Mexico City got my CELTA and continued teaching English to well to do business people. I’d see these massive paintings in their fancy offices and think, what am I doing? How can I become an artist and do what I love all day every day? I had no answers at that time. I was content with my life in general, living in another country… perfecting a new language, meeting interesting people, experiencing an entirely different art world…it was wonderful because everyday I was learning something new and ultimately growing in my understanding of how I fit into this world and how I don’t.

So, I came back to Tucson where I’ve worked as a High School Art/ESL Teacher for three years now. I’ve learned so much from being a teacher. I see so many flaws in this system. I see that youth are as undervalued as their teachers.

Over the summer, I met the artist Jose Trujillo a friend of a good friend of mine. Meeting him was like a god sent for me, I was already starting to believe in myself again and in my dream to become a real artist, but the dream was just that and had no foundation in reality. Was it really possible? Through meeting him, I realized that it is not only possible to be an artist but to be able to support a family with your creations. I felt like art school had given me blinders and filled me with doubt. They never mentioned anything besides the gallery path, they looked down on the artist being in control of their sales. In fact, the idea of making a living from art was really only mentioned in one class, the last semester.

Margarita had gone to California for a Masters in education, and returned around 6 months ago. Her experience was with elementary grades but she accepted a job in a charter HS much like the one I work at but on the other side of town. We started meeting on Fridays to vent and lament the sorry state of education in Arizona and the myriad of problems with alternative charter schools for at risk youth…

Art slowly crept into our conversations. I had a plan. She had a renewed sense of faith in art as well. We started meeting every weekend to strengthen our drawing skills and keep the dream rooted in reality by holding each other accountable. However, the real jewel from our time together is the creation of a community for artists, we hold space and have so much possibility floating around us. The future has never seemed so open as it does now that I’m back on my path.

These are some of the works that have come out of these art making sessions.

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Margarita, 12″ x 12″ oil on canvas © Kaylee Michelle 2015

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