“Put your tongue in your mouth!” is what my parents used to say to me as I colored wildly in and around the lines of my coloring book. As a child I loved creating artwork so much and would become so engaged that I would pin my tongue between my front teeth, half hanging out of my mouth as I worked to fill in all the empty space on the page.
My love for art continued until I was running out of coloring books that interested or challenged me. So, I began sketching out my own designs and coloring them in. Before long, art became my world, my outlet. It was what separated me from everyone else and also what glued me to them. I found I could be inspired by nearly anything if I just allowed myself. This journey with art has been full of ups and downs. In elementary school it was recognized and appreciated and lead to my involvement in the program for Academically Gifted students. My art teachers would use me as a shining example and even took the time to really dive deep with me into the world of art. I won a slew of art contests and talent shows. In addition to my drawing, I also loved to sing and play the piano. I had so much inside of me fighting to get out and I was free to express that in so many ways.
By Middle school, Art programs were dwindling and our state began to view them as less and less important. I did not take another art class after that.
I was a straight A student. I became the President of the Student Council and lead a program that provided hand drawn Valentine’s Day cards to injured Veteran’s across our state. I played a little softball and became an avid competitive swimmer. By the 8th grade, my peers began dividing up into different cliques. It was the very first time I began to see how different I was from other people. I didn’t quite fit in anywhere.. or rather.. I fit in everywhere but just a little bit. I was athletic and pretty. I was also a little nerdy. I liked Marilyn Manson and Pantera and sometimes wore all black. I occasionally wore Jincos and also shopped in Abercrombie. I went to bluegrass festivals and car shows. I was a great big melting pot of personas and I couldn’t seem to just pick one. I had many facets and needed to express them all. I can sum this up by telling you about one particular day in the cafeteria. That day, in 1996, I had on a pair of jeans, a batman T-shirt, and a Quicksilver wallet chain. My hair was at my shoulders and blonde. I remember standing in the cafeteria in a sort of daze trying to figure out where I wanted to sit, and which group I wanted to sit with. In Middle school this seemed like a critical decision that I had to make every. single. day.
A group of “jocks” shouted my name and called me over to sit with them. I had known most of them for my entire life, as we lived in a very small community. When I walked over, one of them said, “Isn’t Bailey great? She’s the cool freak!” He said this in reference to an alternate clique that I spent time with which was a more artsy/musician type crowd. I guess he will never know how I have mulled that over in my mind ever since.
“Bailey […] the cool freak.”
I never knew whether to feel offended or just amused by his remark. Somehow though, it seems to have become a sort of way of living for me. Even now, as an adult, I guess I am a sort of “cool freak.” But, it was that remark that lead to some major changes in my life that have greatly impacted the artist I am today. I only followed this crowd for another year and by my sophomore year of High School I had convinced my family to send me to an academy for academically gifted girls in Winston-Salem. This is where my journey really began.
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