I grew up on a farm in a valley buried in the hills. I rode horses before I could walk and drove tractors before I drove cars. It was the center of life. Farmers, friends and children flocked together to play, to work, or just to share the town gossip.
Work on the farm never ended. We did our sugaring in the old fashioned way, with a team of horses. They were a dream team and had giant hearts for the work that they loved. Those who came to help us travelled back in time through the pull of the sleigh, the jingle of the harnesses, and the steam which rose up from the horses' backs. I drove the horses, but I was so small that I was not able to see over the sap tub, but I could steer straight and that was sufficient. In the summer, the tractor that we hayed with was only one step above horse and prone to overheating. I drove the tractor, but had to hang off the side of the steering wheel and use all my weight and strength to turn. We worked in the searing heat and endured the sting of wasps and the prick of the hay. Sticky with sweat, rivulets would make clean tracks down our dirty bodies and the hay dust clung to our wet skin. Every other day meant some sort of mechanical breakdown of the tractor or haying machinery. The work was hard, but we persisted.
When I went away from the farm for school, I experienced separation anxiety from the place that I loved; however I was introduced into a world of art. What I learned about persistence in the past followed me. In my art, I know that my paintings will eventually have a shape, even though at first they might look horrible. I still return to the country on weekends where I engulf myself in everything horse. But I cannot ignore my artistic side so I incorporated both into my life. Riding them, training them, and painting them. I also work with them at a horse stables near my farm in order to pay for school. Here, I have experienced life or death trials. It's an artist's dream but also a terror. The horses are beautiful, the work physical. I work in the outdoor elements, whether rain, snow, or extreme heat. My life is often threatened by flying hooves and rearing horses, and my body is often marred by bite-marks.
When I dealt with my first horse freak-out everything moved in slow motion. My heart beat rapidly and my legs shook. Adrenaline. I felt like collapsing and it took all my strength to keep the horse under control. I bent its head to keep it from rearing, to keep it from running around me. My body went into auto-mode: survival-mode. The horse leapt. Its hooves came close to my thighs as it jumped away from me. I barred it by putting one hand on the lead rope under its chin, and the other on its shoulder and I pushed. We took a couple of steps forward then it twisted around me and faced me. I knew what was coming next so I quickly moved back to its shoulder as it reared. I was not afraid; I was prepared. I was cautious. A wild horse is like a jack in the box. I felt, saw, and sensed its muscles getting tighter and pop! The tension broke, it exploded, its hooves flew, its neck arched and it reared. When finally I got it into its stall I could breathe again. I had sand in my eyes and in my mouth, its hooves had come that close. I knew that I would suffer from whiplash once the adrenalin faded, but I still won. There is something beautiful about seeing a horse it its grand moments close up. It's dangerous and rewarding at the same time. One doesn't get this type of reward working a student job in a grocery store. I could have gotten seriously injured, or died, but I didn't, I persisted.
Living on a farm and working with horses helped me to appreciate life. I am able to look at the clouds and think hey, those are amazing clouds. I can appreciate life because I know about death and I am reminded about it on a daily basis. I can appreciate the sun because I know what it's like to have to work in the rain. I can appreciate art because it, in turn, appreciates life. It captures life in both its worst and best moments; this is how I experience it. I am able to absorb a great contrast of beauty, art and lifestyle because of my own divided life of city and country. I find that each artist creates their own representation of life, and in their own way celebrate it. In the split second that a horse rears I can appreciate the lines of its arched neck in the same way that I appreciate the lines of a painting or the lines of written text. It's beauty in chaos. It's enlightening to capture the beauty of life in art or see art in life, but this is all subjective to the perception of the artist. One creates life through art; therefore it should be appreciated and celebrated.
My life has been divided and that life has been hard, with every day being a struggle. However, I persist, whether it be with my horses or my art, my life in the city, or in the country. This division has helped me to appreciate the good things in the world and to persist in life. Beautiful things are even seen in the chaos while fearing for your life during a horse freak-out. With my art, I recreate it, share it, my worlds; the world in general, can be represented, preserved and immortalized in art.