Who am I? why am I?
Trying to find my voice has been as difficult as trying to find my true self.
Sometimes I feel like I have many voices, but they’re multi lingual and I don’t understand many of them.
Just as many other contemporary native women, I come a background of abuse, addiction, and trauma. Because of this my ways of navigating relationships became so fluid, I lost me in desperate co-dependency.
My sense of self was ever evasive and dictated by the influence of others.
Even my art suffered, I refused to create to appease other egos, to not make waves, to remember my place.
My eventual realization that, nothing I did was for myself made me reevaluate the direction my life had taken and with help and support from my mother, my land, my tribe, and many close friends, I was able to detach from my abusers.
The journey to discover my true self and my preferences without being influenced, began with connecting to small secret things.
Things I had neglected or purposely did not engage in, for fear they would be exploited, ridiculed, or even destroyed. These small breadcrumbs were found by accepting that is ok to be happy, so many small moments that we take for granted, such as:
The green of new life in my garden, the purr of a sleepy cat, making fresh bread on a bleak afternoon, the sound of my mother’s aspen grove, the sent of willow, pine, and water, reading a book, beading with my mother or my cousin, dried deer meat, momma singing, my kids laughing.
Helping others to do the same brought healing and a renewed sense of wonder for my land, my people, and even our history.
My personality was so fractured that even now, I feel many voices within me. Some critical and shaming, others playful and full of color and energy, some determined, and some that stand in terror at all the change, of my public presence in the world.
I always feel a juxtaposition between order and chaos, beauty and horror, darkness and light, serenity and anxiety. As a result I feel my work reflects this. It has many voices, many moods, many mediums all fighting to be heard.
I feel so many of us are afraid to be seen or heard, that we hide ourselves from the world behind our many carefully constructed masks. Masks of anger, masks of professionalism, masks of helplessness, so many that we can no longer see our own reflection.
Art or visual expression is a way to see myself, sharing my art is perhaps the most difficult thing I have done so far, leaving me fully exposed.
Shelly Taylor – Klamath Tribal member
Age 46, resides in Tucson Arizona. Mother of 3 adult children, and is an ongoing student, teacher, and artist.
Mediums worked in: Acrylic painting, photography, digital media, sculpture, and beadwork.