I have been drawing as far back as I can remember. When I was very young I would create characters and then make comic book series with them. As a teenager, art became an important means of expressing myself and working-through different ideas and emotions that I was having. For a couple years, as a teenager, I was also enrolled in a Graphic Design program at a technical school. This was when I started learning about how the visual arts could become a professional career. In 2006, I began exhibiting my work and I enrolled in a collegiate art program. First I went to Oakland Community College for Fine Arts then I completed my BFA in Fine Arts Illustration & Art History at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University and began exhibiting my work. The next five or so years is when I really started to develop the technical skills, language, and foundational understanding of the visual arts and its history. Since then, I have continually grown my practice professionally through exhibitions, commissions, and residencies. I am always trying to deepen my understanding of art theory and history through independent research and reading, trying to improve upon my technical skills with constant practice, and trying to stay true to myself. I also completed an MFA degree in Arts Administration at Eastern Michigan University in 2016 in order to learn more about the business side of being an artist as well as to further my career working in art museums. I started to volunteer with citizen science activities at parks and a wildlife refuge as a way to intentionally stay immersed in and engaged with the natural environment. The more time that I spend volunteering, the more I learn about, value, and feel responsible for the ecosystems in my region. Painting en plein air is a minimally invasive outdoor activity that utilizes natural spaces and relies on the preservation of our natural resources. In this way, it is an extension of the stewardship activities that I am involved in. As the worlds of stewardship volunteerism and plein air painting began to merge for me, I became an Artist-in-Residence with Friends of the Porkies at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This experience really made it clear to me that my path going forward as an artist would be to work with environmental organizations and have my art benefit conservation efforts in whatever way it can.
Making art and being involved in stewardship activities are inextricably linked for me. By participating in stewardship activities, I am caring for the subject that inspires me to make art. I am a Stewardship Volunteer at Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and some Michigan State Parks as well as a surveyor with FrogWatchUSA. I get the chance to be proactively engaged at parks and refuges through activities like the removal of invasive species, collecting native grass seeds, as well as monitoring wildlife such as amphibian populations and migrating raptors. In addition to citizen science activities, I also voluntarily perform general grounds maintenance and basic carpentry tasks at the wildlife refuge like maintaining trails, installing benches, building footbridges, picking up litter, etc.