Emily, Week 3: Artist Statement (2010)

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(I'm substituting a Letter of Intention, written in a busy coffee shop on a brutally cold day as an exasperated freeform attempt to understand why I was applying to a graduate program. I rewrote before submitting, but this has served as my mission statement and my touchstone when I no longer understand where I'm going.)

What are my intentions? I intend to take a nap today. I intend to spend some time huddling with cats under an electric blanket and trying desperately to warm my blood to a healthy temperature. I intend to take a bath if my water heater will cooperate. I intend to keep making eyes at curly-headed boys. I intend to get a refill.

Beyond that, I intend to write a letter of intention today. I intend to apply for a Masters of Landscape Architecture. I intend never to convince myself I'm in love just because I can palpably feel my youth caught in a vortex, slipping away with the bathwater. I intend to pull myself out of the depths of sunny winter despair and self-pity and make a difference with my day. I intend to make beautiful things for people who need beauty. I intend to get rich people to pay for beautiful things for people who need beauty.

And, here's the sneaky plan that warms me in these sub-zero days: I intend for these little things of beauty to transform into places of beauty, places where beautiful things happen perhaps against the better wishes of rich people. I intend for these places to be where people who feel they can't afford beauty in their lives can understand that beauty is for everyone, and doesn't just live on walls up in fenced-off hills. I intend to make places where connections are possible, where ideas are born, and where a sense of curiosity can sneakily worm its way into the cultivated humdrum of adulthood. I intend for these places to be peaceful for those who need peace, and exciting for those who can't remember what it feels like to be excited. I intend for people to think, "Oh, I wish I could be a kid again," and then, "look at that tiny yellow light peeking from behind a dark cloud. I wonder who lives back there."

I intend to make beautiful places for people who need beauty, who feel they can't afford beauty, who are bent back by the hard and ugly weight of their daily lives. I intend for these people to realize that part of them is still a child who wonders about clouds.

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