The time had finally arrived to use my best in show prize and go to the Southern Graphics Council International in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was to be the first trip traveling by myself. With 21 years of wisdom, a custom made schedule/meal plan, and a suitcase full of cereal, I still felt incredibly unprepared. And I was (emotionally speaking). The conference was even better than I imagined it would be! The amount of unique events, fascinating people, demos, and panel talks, packed each of my days from 7am till 11pm... was some of the most intense few days of my life.
While hauling around a backpack with enough supplies to survive a zombie apocalypse, I discovered prints and drawings by Ruth Weisberg, and met many other inspiring artist printmakers. The panel talks were fantastic, the museum exhibitions were packed, and I even got to join every single demo and have water (yes, water) in the Sunsphere during cocktails.
After clearly having announced my presence, the Nebraska graduate students were then sent to kidnap me across the gallery shows, and the Arizona ones to ambush me during the demos. Some of the most welcoming people I have ever met! They each definitely stole a piece of my heart.
I later made a close relation with talented Melanie Yazzie, who gifted me her spot in the open portfolio so I could have two back to back sessions. And it was soon worth it! Oh my gosh, my table got more attention than ever expected. I lgave out all 100 of my business cards! Heck, even one of my prints made the SGCI Instagram page. Wohoooo! Someday I hope to surprise a young student with a portfolio session, just as Melanie did for me.
Once my open portfolio ended, I had 5 mins to reach my taxi to rush me to the airport after hearing my flight was canceled 20 mins ago. With my sister back home acting as my personal travel agent, I was rescued by securing a changeover in Washington. By this time my backpack was looking more like my own personal turtle shell, as I hopped like a pigeon between terminals with a loose sole on my left shoe.
In the end, I am not sure who was the most happy. Me hugging my mama and sister after what seemed like an eternity, or my mother relieved that I got back in one piece. No matter where I am, these two are always looking out for me.