Austin to New York and Back Again

I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and knew early on I wanted to pursue the arts professionally. By age six, I was well on my way and had already opened my first exhibition in our front yard; I sold Spirograph drawings to neighbors and a few grandparents who were called in to support the cause. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a lifelong passion.

As the daughter of an art teacher, support was always there. Our summer trips to South India, a place we frequented as a part of my motherís professional development training, saturated me in color and pattern while also providing time to develop my skills in painting and drawing. Throughout high school, I enrolled in adult classes at the Austin Museum of Art where working artists such as Sydney Yeager offered guidance and support.

By 1999, I received my B.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin. This was followed by a semester in Italy studying Art and Art History in Corciano, a medieval hill town, through a graduate program organized by American University. In addition to learning how to dodge a speeding Vespa (scooter) and order riso (rice) my favorite flavor of gelato, I learned how important it was to see art within the context it was created; taking into account the location, scale and culture.

With the encouragement of my art history professor, Dr. Barbara Rose, I set out to continue my journey in New York City and applied to the graduate program at Hunter College. I was trying to wrap my head around the contemporary art scene and felt New York was the place to start any real investigation. My husband (to be) and I packed our things and headed north in a big yellow truck (my mom still gets misty when she sees them) and arrived in Queens, our new home, red-eyed on an early Saturday morning. Two days later, I began working as Dr. Roseís research assistant, where I answered calls from artists such as Al Held and Mark Di Suvero and pulled together materials for exhibition proposals that were actualized at major museums such as the Reina Sofia. Within a week, I also became a part-time gallery assistant in Chelsea. Between school, the gallery, my research work and writing articles on the side for NY Arts Magazine, I was surrounded by people making or thinking about art twenty four hours a day.

In 2002, I graduated with an M.F.A. in Combined Media and accepted a teaching fellowship. I completed my certification requirements and returned to Austin to work at Sri Atmananda Memorial School (a branch of the school I visited in South India as a child). As a teacher at the school I planned Art and Art history courses for grades K-12 and learned to develop activities based on the studentsí interests through planned lessons and spontaneous projects that emerged in the classroom.

In 2005, following an in depth course exploring Italian Art and History our high school students decided to raise funds to take a trip to Italy in order to experience the culture first hand as I had several years before. They created a budget, purchased tickets, booked hotels and convinced the school board and their parents to endorse the trip. During our two week adventure we visited Rome, Florence, Sienna, and Arezzo following an itinerary the students developed and researched. In addition to teaching at the school, I spent several summers working as a youth arts instructor at the Dougherty Arts Center and recently started writing for Cantanker Magazine, a local publication designed to support the visual arts community in Austin.

So where do we go from here? Well my niece, who is five years old and a prolific artist herself, informed me that when she gets older we are going to open a museum together Ö.. Iíll keep you posted.