(June 27, 2019)—I have always wanted to create art and share it with people. I believe that art in and of itself is extremely important, on an individual and societal level. It is a communication tool. It is used to express one’s identity, feelings, and emotions, while also drawing an emotional response from an audience.
Unlike my fellow students attending the program, I do not have an extensive background in either anthropology or archaeology. I’m a visual artist who works in a variety of media, especially ceramic sculpture, watercolor, acrylic painting, and analog photography. As you might expect, over the course of the field school, I have been met many times with an incredulous, “What are you doing here?!” Surprisingly enough, however, I have quickly found myself at home here in Cliff, New Mexico. I am constantly learning and successfully facing challenges I never thought I could or would want to. I am pushed outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis, and every day, I am impressed not only by my own resilience, but also the tenacity and intelligence of the people around me.
My interest in anthropology blossomed my sophomore year at Cochise. I became so interested in studying the cultures and lives of past people, especially how they expressed themselves and their beliefs in the creation and decoration of so many forms of art—music, painting, woodcarving, jewelry, even body modification. This past semester, I took a second anthropology course and was introduced to Archaeology Southwest. As Karen and Leslie presented the field school program to our class, I thought, “This is so important—you need to be there and you need to be doing this.”
Throughout the application process and the weeks leading up to actually arriving in Cliff, I grew a little apprehensive. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in with the other students; that I would be made uncomfortable by the heat and physical activity; that I would feel very lonely and homesick. And yet being here has shown me the excitement of meeting new people, whether or not they are on the same career path. It is interesting to see people care about anthropology as deeply as I care about studying my art.
This program has also taught me that being too comfortable is stagnation. You will never learn what you might enjoy and excel at until you go beyond what you know you can do. For example, never in a million years would I have guessed how much I would actually enjoy digging in the hot sun for eight hours a day, or hiking up and down steep canyons while sweating through my shirts. Achieving these things has left me with such an enormous sense of pride, even earning me the title of “World’s Best Mountain Goat.”
The power of perception is another valuable life lesson I have picked up here. I want to continue starting off every day with the knowledge that although I may be uncomfortable, I am continuing to grow as a person and forever broadening my horizons. I am so pleased with my decision to go on this adventure. I am watching myself transform as an individual and as an artist while being presented with amazing opportunities. I have met people and formed bonds and memories that will last a very long time. In the future, I hope to continue studying anthropology and using my experiences here to better communicate with my audience through my art.
Sometimes, new experiences and new people pop up in places where you would never think to look. Do not shy away from the unknown. Step outside your comfort zone. Push yourself. Meet obstacles with excitement and tenacity. You never know how things might change you.