My journey as an artist has been nothing short of amazing, my name wouldn’t be Grace otherwise. Trusting myself to pursue art regardless of the resistance has been a self evolution. Upon graduating High School I had received first and second place awards annually for my artwork. Having heard that pursing an artist life was hard and not lucrative, I started as a pre-med student on a trajectory to be a medical doctor with art as a hobby for my first year of college. After two years of study as a Biology major, I was burnt out and found respite and rebuilding in art. I have always been an artist, won competitions as a child, and found its healing and inspiring powers through a dramatic childhood. I changed majors and completed a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Painting, Printmaking, and Drawing by Dec 2011.
Upon graduation, the same notion of being an artist is a very difficult means of making a living, and it’s a hard life - encouraged me to pursue high paying part time work. I began a massage therapy certification program through the Colorado School of Healing Arts. I learned so much about the body and importance of self care through massage. Ultimately, I burnt out before completing the program. I also realized, being a massage therapist was as difficult a path as being an artist, so why would I pursue two challenging careers? I might as well dive into the arts! I had maintained my art as a hobby and dazzled my classmates and friends with my creations.
I began showing in the Art District on Santa Fe at the Denver Art Society Feb 2013. The Denver Art Society is a rare and valuable gem. I joined at $50 a month with weekly volunteer shifts on Mondays and Tuesdays. I enjoyed the space and its radical self reliance principles. I helped to build the Underground studios starting in Feb 2014. As a collective we agreed to bring the basement up to code and parcel it out as studio rentals to help pay the rent and bills of the Denver Art Society. The collective is an all volunteer team of artists of all kinds. Winter and Spring of 2014, I helped haul ruble and hang drywall to build the Underground that houses my studio and hosts patrons who visit everyday DAS is open.
April 2014, my dear friend Sara Visvader and I completed a backpacking trip to Waipio Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii. We also completed a month long yoga teacher training in Kona, Hawaii through Konalani Ashram, part of Shambhava Kundalini Yoga, where I currently practice. I found the training to be first of all: life changing; one of the most insightful, inspiring, and eye opening experiences of my life. We finished our journey on the “family island” Kauai, getting tattoos at Kulture Tattoo from Samual Shaw. Samual designed and crafted the tibal piece encompassing one quarter of my body. This piece is an expression and appreciation for my native ancestry and growth in Colorado and Hawaii. From ages 5 to 27, my family went to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years with my Japanese Hawaiian Aunty who would go home during the holidays to see her family. The images of my tattoo speak towards my ancestral Puebloan and Spanish roots dating back to the 1700s when Colorado was part of Mexico. The Hawk, is one of my spirit animals; being of both the land and heavans, the Hawk’s vision and power bridge the gap between the physical and metaphysical, just like me.
After completing my Yoga Teacher Training, I returned to Boulder and Denver for the summer. Upon arriving home, my boyfriend, David Kieres, of 5 years ended our relationship. This was devastating to me, we were practically married and the break up felt like a divorce. Soon everything else was to crumble in the span of 6 weeks, mid-May through end of June 2014. Both of my brothers were dealing with violent and terrible drug addictions and manic from their mental illness. My third friend in 18 months committed suicide; I was working full time landscaping; the lease of the house Dave and I rented was up at the end of June; Dave was graduating from massage school with family visiting and then a family vacation at the end of June.
Dave helped me move into my new studio I had just started renting at the Denver Art Society. My studio was in the Underground that I helped build earlier that spring. It did not have any electricity or lights, all were installed in July 2014. My first First Friday in my studio was lit with shop lights with my art on Mexican blankets on the floor while I painted the walls.
My schedule was so packed with hosting, moving, helping my family, working full time, and starting my new studio. I channeled all the loss and grief through the meditation practice I gained the month before in the yoga teacher training. I was meditating 2 hours and doing an hour of yoga every day to stay focused and not drown in sorrow and exhaustion. By the end of June, I still didn’t have a place to live or move to. Dave was gone on a family vacation and it was up to me and my brother Ned to move everything out and clean the house. Ned was dealing with felony charges and was so emaciated from drug addiction, he was 24 years old and going bald from malnutrition. Both of my brothers were in a similar state and moving into my parents house in Boulder. There was no room for me and my things so I needed to find a place to go. Thankfully, my friends Mark and Eric Ciccone let me store my belongings in their garage and stay with them until I found a place to live. I couldn’t be more grateful, I truly needed their help!
Summer of 2014, was spent working, taking care of my brothers, mom, and dad. This summer was heartbreaking as more bad news and traumatizing events unfolded. As my foundation crumbled, I surrendered my life and everything to god and myself. I realized that the rubble that was my broken reality had all been assembled by no other designer than your’s truly. All this instability and heartbreak had manifested in one way or another by my own doing, I accepted my responsibility in it all. To this realization, I gave everything up to god and universe. I had nothing left and no direction except to practice kundalini yoga at the local Shoshoni Ashram, the sister Ashram to Konalani. I continued my yoga teacher trainings, gaining certificates in Ayurvedic lifestyle therapies, and level 1 meditation teacher training. I did a lot of mantra and meditation, I opened up to all possibilities and learned how to be present with each moment. Upon my surrender to god and forces I perceived larger than me I was intuitively guided to revisit my astrological chart. Now that I was free of attachment, I could begin working on the guidebook drafted the day I was born. In my chart, the stars all align to be an artist, its all right there, plane and simple. That is my karmaic role on this earth and for this life time as Grace Noel. Empowered by this realization, I began the long journey through the jungle of my consciousness and karma. After trying so many different paths, the toa of the artist began to unfold.
By the end of the summer, I went to Taos, NM to the Earthship Academy. This was a month long course, living in an Earth Ship and learning how to build one. Earth Ships are super cool, I highly recommend looking them up! They are self sustaining homes made from recycled materials. They can withstand fires, winds, and floods, keeping the inhabitants comfortably alive inside by generating power, growing food, storing and processing water. These homes are low emission homes with utilities up to $300 annually. I learned about them while I was taking a Permaculture class at Oregon State University (I completed the course with a permaculture certificate, yay!).
While I was building Earth Ships, my team and I were all so inspired and created a supportive fun community together; some of these friendships will be rekindled upon my Australia Tour in Nov 2018. Everyone was pining for a job with Earth Ships, and amongst all the excitement, opportunities were presented to me for any number of adventures and collaborations. I remembered my mission and karma in life is to be an artist. Ultimately, my spirit, my studio, and everything I had begun to build in Denver helped me to realize, I needed to focus on my art.
I have been focused on the tao of the artist ever since. Each event that unfolded, I approached from the perspective of a yogi: “a yogi neither accepts nor rejects;” I still live my life this way. All things that come my way are blessings and I will live long enough to do the work I came to this Earth to do. As the years have passed, my focus has been rewarded with less day jobs and distractions so I can work full time as an artist. I have taken significant blows, been through the densest and darkest times, to arrive at Happy Dragon, the mural I created for the Englewood Block Party Sept 8, 2018. As 2018 has unfolded, I have gained so much of what I lost. I am grateful for my journey and will continue it, so long as there is work to do. Thank you to my Guru and Sangha for being a consistent place of inner peace, reflection, healing, and direction forward.