A Search for Home

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In the bittersweet transitions of life, we sometimes find ourselves reminiscing over the loss of ending one journey while in the midst of looking forward to the beginning of another. There, in this struggle to keep what was once ours and to step hesitantly forward, moments of enlightenment are often overlooked. As an artist, I have always been interested in capturing these snapshots of life, forcing myself and my audience to pause and consider the doorways through which we pass.

Graduating from college was almost as intimidating as it was exciting for me. As I set out to define an art career for myself, I found myself once again at my parent's house in Walla Walla, WA, feeling more lost than at home. I began a painting that I dedicated to my grandmother, who had passed away two years prior, and entitled it "A Search for Home." I was inspired by a movie about a group of women searching for their birthplace and discovering a house in the remote Canadian countryside. The painting became symbolic of my grandmother's passing and my transition from college into service work.

Volunteering at The Giving Tree, a toy shop that makes and sells wooden toys in downtown Seattle, I came to realize that home is a shifting place - far less physical than it is emotional. My job was to work alongside homeless and elderly populations building toys to sell and donate to families in need. I soon learned that home did not simply mean a domicile for my newfound friends to store their belongings, nor just a place to sleep at night. Rather, home became a place in their lives where they felt welcomed and loved - an obvious contrast to the bitterness of life on the streets.

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Cleo Peterson (2005 Krista Colleague) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and earned a summer research grant to paint and study the social effects of college suicide, culminating in a seven-piece painting series entitled Student Emotions. It was later shown in the Karpeles Museum of Tacoma, Washington, which led to her national selection for the 2004 USA Today All-Academic Team, given Honorable Mention. Cleo spent one year as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at The Giving Tree, and currently works as an artist, part-time nanny, and office assistant at a local harp and hammered dulcimer shop called Dusty Strings in Seattle.

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