As a feisty Scottish seven-year old, I learned the meaning of ‘emigrate’ and announced “that’s what I am going to do: I am going to emigrate to Australia!” Well, I never made it to Australia, but 13 years later, after my father left this realm, I left for Jamaica with £200 in pocket. On an early bird flight to Kingston, I stared at clouds, feeling fear tinged with anticipation, excitement and trust.
A portrait photographer since 17, I photographed children, theatre, art and artists. My deep connection to my subjects inspired me to become an artist myself. In those years of exploration, my journeys steered me from London, to Jamaica, to Texas to New York City and San Diego.
Along the way, I gathered a BFA Honors in Sculpture and MFA in Mixed Media that included writing. I settled in Boulder where I taught at the University of Colorado. For 20 years, I was on the faculty of Art and Art History Department as well as Program for Writing and Rhetoric. I led Global Seminars in Art History in France and Spain.
My work as an educator began in Jamaica, when I landed solidly on magnetic soil inhabited by a vibrant brilliant people. Initially employed as a designer, I soon taught English literature in a boy’s high school, where patois is the first language. In my effort to build a more personal and creative connection with the students, I led their photography club on a field trip cross-island to Port Royal. With the theatre club, I directed them in a production written by a colleague’s sixth former.
Later, in the USA, I found myself continuing to devise ways to escape suffocating classrooms by leading field trips to museums, art collections and sanctuaries for circus-born animals. I organized performance and installation events. Students worked in dance, music, spoken word, film and other media to create pieces to be viewed by a general public on the street, in local museums and black box technology facilities on campus.
After teaching art history for 2 years at NYU in Paris, I returned to Colorado to create a study abroad art focused program in France, then Spain. Every group of travellers birthed a dynamic interactive community. Sharing endeavours, exploring ideas, learning and laughing combined to enable excellence. Bonding occurs most fiercely when traveling abroad: your group becomes family. People wake up emotionally and spiritually when abroad. I am convinced travel offers soul deep change.
The idea to do art tours came during a women’s retreat in Seattle. We were asked to go out and look for objects—symbols that spoke to us; then present them to the group. Since I could not find anything meaningful in the highly manicured grounds, I ventured into nearby suburban streets.
I asked for a sign then came upon smashed blue glass nestled in emerald green grass. The translucent shards were sharp, broken every which way. A few perfectly heart-shaped yellow leaves were the perfect wrap for my cobalt tender.
Returning to the seminar, I reflected on what the objects symbolized.
These are our broken selves—pain that needs to heal. Traveling heals pain. This heart shaped yellow leaf represents the joy that comes come from travel. Joy lives in the beauty, pleasure and desire that is art. I am going to create transformational art tours.
People tell me: You changed my life.
Maintaining a space for learning, creativity and play fulfills my purpose at this time.
I am supportive as you become more confident and experimental in effecting the change you desire. You may already be game-changers or movers and shakers, and travel—especially international—will only elevate and enhance your sense of possibility.
The exhilaration that comes from saying ‘yes’ to change and growth can be yours.
Take a small step and ripple effect results: life expands, doors open, you see differently.
I am thrilled to be your guide.