Fiber Artist, Crafts & Gastronomy Expo-Fair
"My experience in Mexico was so incredible it’s difficult to put into words. I went into this trip expecting to make new connections by representing Paducah and see a different part of the world. Well, I didn’t make connections, I made friends. And, I didn’t just see another part of the world. I was completely immersed in another culture. Because of these things, I have come back with a very different perspective. I am motivated to reach out more to the people around me, share and learn about new places, and push myself artistically. The beautiful architecture, landscape, art, craft, music and food of Chiapas gave me so much inspiration to feed my own artistic practice. I had the opportunity to meet the only two fine art painters in Chamula, who are brothers that work in a studio together. I learned that they struggle with similar things as artists all over the place- financial instability, lack of access to materials, inability to get people to believe in sending their children to learn about art (because it’s not a practical way to make an income). The realization that we share some of the same hurdles motivated me even more to keep fighting for the arts that I so strongly believe in. One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was interacting with the children in San Cristobal. Despite the language barrier, many of the children at the festival came up to talk to me. Between my small amount of Spanish and the Google Translate app, I was able to learn a little bit about many of the kids. I had some hand dyed fabric (thanks to Hancock's of Paducah) that I fashioned into bandanas for them, starting with Daniela who had been stationed at the booth across from us, selling amber jewelry with her parents. Next was Sophia, who came back later with a tiny ceramic cup that she presented to me with a twinkle in her eye, as a thank you gift for the bandana. Many other kids joined in the fun and came to pick up their own special fabric accessory from our booth. When Daniela showed up the next day, still sporting her bandana, I was overjoyed. I can’t help but think that this is how diplomatic relationships should start: young people interacting with people that are different from them, taking the time to communicate and share, and then holding that in their heart as they go through life."