A path carved out long before I was born

Sheila Dunn Art Journal

“We will be soldiers, so our sons may be farmers, so their sons may be artists.” I have been thinking of this quote (loosely attributed to Thomas Jefferson or John Quincy Adams depending where you look) a lot recently.

Because I've been thinking about lineage. Wondering how much of our path is created by us alone - and how much has already been carved out ahead of time. 
I first heard this quote right around the time I also found out that my great grandmother Anne was an incredible artist. Hearing it sent shivers through me. 

Because it was not lost on me that my great-grandmother likely never painted again after completing this phenomenally detailed piece as an 8th grader in Catholic School in Chicago. Instead, she moved west & raised nine children. 

It's not lost on me that my grandfather served as a marine in WWII & that he struggled/refused to speak of his wartime experiences for the remainder of his short life. 

That my grandmothers worked to the bone raising children of their own with little means, just as my parents worked their asses off to put the three of us through college. 

And it is not lost on me that this quote was written at a time when substituting the word "son" for "daughter" would have been unthinkable. 

I have worked my ass off to get to where I am as an artist. I have never questioned that. But I simultaneously realize (or at least try to remind myself with immense gratitude) that the freedom & time & means to pursue this career is a privilege bestowed upon me by the unrelenting work of those before me.

A path (an opening, a door, an opportunity) carved out long before I was born.

Photo By Julia Duke

Sheila Dunnjournal