As we wrap up this first series of guest blog posts from our GlassRoots Artist Fellows, Joshua (Red) Jackson has written an incredibly moving post about his experience at Peter Valley:
“Have you ever had a dream you felt you couldn’t make come true?
That’s easily a massive part of my life, and for a while, I’d even accepted that as a massive part of growing up. I’d consigned myself to the things I was currently able to do, over my personal wants in pursuit of success and fulfillment. This went on for about 7 years. So you could probably understand how huge it is when I say my 7 week stay at Peter’s Valley restored 7 years’ worth of unfulfilled dreams.
Let’s start simple. I come from a middle-class family, and a nerdy one at that. I remember watching Lord of The Rings with my 2 siblings, and having swordfights, or watching dwarves make incredible treasures.
And at some point, you think to yourself “I want to make that”.
And then you google it, find out how, and realize the current you can’t afford it.
Rinse and repeat.
It was Covid that broke the cycle. Promotion with my employer, gone. Physical access to friends and family, gone. Unemployment came into play, so bills and groceries were covered for the most part. But it also highlighted the fact that I had no idea what I would do after this–I had no college degree, would be in-between jobs once again, and student debt was still throwing jabs.
So, no financial crisis, no friends, no family, no job, and no degree–in the middle of a social distancing pandemic. My world had essentially stopped. And just like that, I suddenly had time to think about what mattered to me.
Enter Peter’s Valley.
From the moment I saw the trailer, I wanted to come here more than anywhere else in the world. I came out here with the highest expectations, and was met in kind–the freedom to create.
From woodworking to blacksmithing, from fine metals to precious stones, almost every possible resource was available to me. The resources alone were half the battle–I had all the bait to go fishing, but no idea how to fish.
Which brings me to the teachers–experts in their field, every time. Whenever I brought out some dusty idea that I’d tucked away for years in the “Give Up” vault, I was almost never met with a “you can’t”. And when “I couldn’t”, they would explain why, and help me find another way to make that dream manifest.
I’ve learned refining processes, different mediums to shape my thoughts, and made new and endearing friends all the while. I’ve visited auctions and learned the value that others place on your art. And as we speak, my drawers are filled with dreams that I never thought would leave pencil and paper.
I’ve got new skills now. New associates too. And new dreams to come with them. I’m still positioning myself to accomplish those, but they’ll be my steps down the creative path set before me. I hope to show my family the new reaches of my capabilities–and then the world maybe.
I’m infinitely grateful for the time I’ve spent here.
And even more grateful for the staff and assistants that made that time worthwhile.
Apparently 70% of the nation’s vaccinated now. Which means my world’s starting to turn again. And I have a hunch I’ll be ready for when it does.”
We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet these six talented artists and welcome them to campus this summer. We are sad that their time at Peters Valley is coming to an end, but look forward to seeing what their future artistic careers hold! Next week we’ll welcome a second cohort of Fellows from GlassRoots and, like the first cohort, they will have the chance to share their experiences through guest posts on the blog. Stay tuned!