Artist Teresita Fernandez’s keynote speech for the VCU School of the Arts Commencement Ceremony.

Artist Teresita Fernandez’s keynote speech for the VCU School of the Arts Commencement Ceremony.

I met Teresita Fernandez during my study abroad opportunity at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s campus in Lacoste, France. There are no words for the amount of inspiration I receive through the combination of working alongside this international artist and the magical beauty of Lacoste. Both changed my practice forever and continue to influence me. Here is a link to Teresita’s commencement speech VCU School of the Arts Commencement Ceremony where she  advises the recent MFA graduate and emerging artist.


The Theme For The Month of May is MANIFESTATION!


It is the 15th of May and I am realizing that I have 6 weeks left to orchestrate my transition from post-MFA grad/waitress trying to make ends meet in Brooklyn, NY to emerging artist/residency attendant. In some ways I am overwhelmed by the stress of how I am able to make this leap. The majority of that stress is based on logistics and how I have not, as of yet, found the funds to make this leap financially posible. As I sit here at my desk in my little $700/month room in Crown Heights, I wonder how I can best use the next couple of hours before I have to go to my waitressing job in Cobble Hill. Fear of change and the unknown paralyzes me momentarily so I reach for all my coping mechanisms: reflection, writing, work.

I have been fortunate enough to make a new artist friend via social media who lives on the west coast of the country. We have messaged each other on the struggles of being an emerging artist. One of our conversations (in the form of messaging) revolved around the idea of MANIFESTATION, particularly how to make your hopes and dreams a reality. “Ask and ye shall receive,” she wrote but reminded me that I needed to be specific about what I was asking for. She made me realize that I needed to focus on my goals, be specific as to what they are and directly ask for those goals to manifest in my life. She also helped me to remember to be thankful for what I have already received, to focus on the positive or as my dad always says, “focus on the doughnut and not on the hole.”

So, here it goes: this is what I have accomplished in the 6 months since I finished my MFA in painting. I am grateful for all these opportunities and more (this is also a potion of the letter of thanks I sent to my kickstarter supporters yesterday):

After my successful solo show, Delineations, at the beginning of the year in Ohio, I returned to New York to rest, work, and build a new foundation for my post graduate career. I have been waitressing at a little restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn as well as catering to pay rent and make ends meet. When I am not working to pay the bills, I have been researching and applying for every opportunity I can get my hands on, mainly grants and residencies. I have had positive results. In December I received a grant from the Charles Mayer Foundation;  March I received a grant from the Puffin Foundation. My thesis project (the one YOU helped fund) was published multiple times. Here is a link to my website and CV if you are interested in seeing where the project was published: look under “Press.”

As summer rapidly approaches, I am preparing for my next artist adventures. As of right now, I have been accepted to three residencies: The Wassaic Project for four months July 1st; the Vermont Studio Center November 1st; and CAMAC Centre d’Art March 2014. Each residency has given me small grants/fellowships to help offset the cost of working and living there. But my work associated with these opportunities is not over yet. Because I have only received partial funding I have been diligently researching and applying for more grants with the knowledge that I will find the money to move my career forward.

But wait, there’s more! I am also writing multiple proposals for installation opportunities on the east coast: one in Hilton Head, another at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and finally, at the Sculpture Center in New York. I am working out the details within these proposals to afford to build the installation and also pay myself. All this work will enable me to afford the residency opportunities, places that will give me the time and space to create a new body of work but also the networking opportunities necessary for more shows and the eventual gallery representation.

Re-reading what I wrote yesterday, I am reminded of the work that needs to be accomplished in the next 6 weeks (and how there is 4 hours and counting until tonight’s shift). I have butterflies in my stomach but looking up to my wall of post-it note positive affirmations I attempt to “move fear towards excitement and enthusiasm.” Looking at my calendar above my computer, I am reminded that discipline is the only way all of this will get done. Feeling the stress an anxiety well up inside of me, I make plans to go to the gym before work and burn it off. Finally, I am reminded of the word orenda: “a mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world, or effect change in their own lives.”

Go forth and conquer.