skating through the pandemic: Stephanie Clark

Hi Stephanie! It’s such a pleasure to meet you in real life. You’re the first person I’ve met on Instagram and then brought to a real-life photo shoot. I’m such a fan of your joy and plant exuberance and kindness. First question: tell me about your paintings! I just found out you’re also an artist (in addition to all your other amazing hobbies and career pursuits). How did you get started? Why is painting your favorite medium?

Drawing and painting are things I’ve done for as long as I can remember, but I started using my current style of acrylic painting when I entered high school. I started experimenting with a lot of different mediums around that time, and acrylic paint turned out to be my favorite. I can usually produce some pretty bold, solid colors with it, and I love that it dries quickly. My favorite thing about painting is that it allows me to observe and reproduce colors that may not be immediately obvious when you look at something. There’s a whole rainbow of colors even in items that appear to have only one! 

What experiences have you been able to enjoy because of art?
There are so many treasured experiences that being a part of the West Michigan art community has given me, but my most recent favorites have been doing murals for the city of Grand Rapids this summer, hosting my first in-person art sale during the May 2021 Art Hop (I was sponsored by the lovely Kalamazoo State Theatre), and seeing my work get tattoed. There is truly no feeling like seeing something I drew immortalized on someone’s skin, and several really cool people gave me that joy this year! I am deeply honored that my art is a part of some people’s daily lives.

I‘d love to know about your research projects and experiences.
I started my first round of field research in the summer of 2018 right after my junior year of college. I had recently decided that I wanted to be an Ecologist instead of a Veterinarian, and I knew that spending a summer deep in the woods of rural Michigan would help me figure out if this was the right path.

My research partner and I were studying an invasive plant species called Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) at the gorgeous Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, and since I’d lived my entire life in the city of Grand Rapids, I felt like I was entirely out of my depth at first. I was battling a pretty intense phobia of insects at the time (which is ironic given my current research), so there was definitely an adjustment period. I ended up conquering my fear by learning as much as I could about the insects I frequently encountered, and eventually I became very comfortable with them and the outdoors by the end of that summer.

That’s awesome!

I graduated with my B.S. in Biological Sciences at the end of 2018 and immediately started working for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) as an Environmental Education intern. This experience allowed me to develop a passion for science communication and sharing my love of plants and insects with different audiences. In the second half of 2019 I began working for both Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners and The Plant Parlor in Grand Rapids. I was able to develop my skills as an entomologist by trapping and identifying ants in the lab while also strengthening my skills as a botanist by memorizing everything I could about the plants I tended.

I’m currently in the second year of my PhD, and my research centers on how butterflies and moths are affected by climate change and human activity. There’s a massive and very concerning insect decline happening worldwide, and I want to do my part to help figure it out. Although plants are not the main focus of my research anymore, I still get to feed my inner botanist by raising thousands of them for my caterpillars to demolish each summer. Since my entire graduate school experience has been during the pandemic, it’s certainly been difficult in some unforeseen ways, but I am forever grateful that I get to study and interact with the organisms I love all the time. 

Absolutely! I imagine that it’s incredibly satisfying to combine so many of your interests and loves in your studies. New topic: what advice can you offer someone wanting to “make peace” with their body and their way of moving?
I started roller skating a few months before entering a very painful time in my life, and it was the only activity that helped me feel anything other than turmoil for a long time. When I was at my worst, skating was the only thing that got a genuine smile out of me due to the sheer joy of what my body could do. Whether its skating or any other type of movement – my best advice is to let it transcend your thoughts and become a form of meditation. Use it as a way to celebrate and check in with your physical body since we live our whole lives in these strange little meat suits. Even if we never make peace with all parts of ourselves, movement can help us make incredible amounts of progress.


What’s your favorite thing about living in Michigan? Your least favorite?

Due to the oddity of my profession, I get to live in the woods and observe some incredibly beautiful wildlife every day. Living in rural Michigan has given me so much insight into who am without the convenience and bustle of a city. My spiritual beliefs are entirely nature-based, so being immersed in the seasonal changes of the woods around me has been insightful and comforting in ways I didn’t know I needed. My least favorite things about Michigan are the cold and the racists.

Ugh, yep, both of those things suck in very different ways. Thank you for your honesty! Last question: where do you draw inspiration? What art, books, music, etc. bring you joy and/or insight?
I draw a lot of inspiration from my dreams and nature. I have had extremely vivid, meaningful, and intense dreams since I was a child, and I’ve found that documenting them over the past year has given me endless fuel for my artistic endeavors. My favorite animals, snakes and crows, are often in my dreams and in my art. When drawing or painting organisms, I almost always reference natural science field guides for anatomy and color. The artists whose work is featured in these books have my undying respect due to how detailed and realistic their craft is required to be. I have several insect, plant, and bird field guides in my personal library and am always looking for more! 

Follow Stephanie’s adventures on Instagram and check out her art here!

role model & inspiration: Jessa Challa

Kelsey May | September 27th, 2017

I recently interviewed Jessa Challa, recent Aquinas College grad, artist, and mapmaker extraordinaire.

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What advice do you have for people seeking to grow?

I just got this book, Kiki Palmer’s I Don’t Belong to You. It’s inspired me to think for myself first and not care about what other people think.

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When do you feel most confident?

I always feel the best when I’ve accomplished something. Recently, that was on my graduation day. We were a really close group; we still go out for pizza and beer [together]!

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Tell me more about your art!

My grandma’s an artist. I always did watercolors with my grandma, and then I’ve recently started doing acrylics.

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Jessa’s Self-Portrait in the style of Frida Kahlo

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You have a lot of great friends and people in your life. How do you suggest creating a positive network?

Reach out to your friends and role models. Kiki Palmer was a role model [growing up]. Now, instead of surrounding myself with beautiful people, I surround myself with role models. [Palmer] has videos where she talks about beauty and being yourself.

Also, devote yourself to work on relationships with people rather than [nursing] friendships with fake friends.

My friend, Taniah, will send me quotes, and I’ll forward them on social media because I want to share the confidence and share the advice.

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What’s important to you?

Right now, my relationships with friends and family, self-love. I’m very much an activist so I’m learning and participating in different movements. I’m passionate about helping people realize there are opportunities out there for them.

I’m working with the internship coordinator at Aquinas [to help other students find internships that work for them]. People don’t feel like they know about opportunities. It’s important in the Grand Rapids climate that local people – not out-of-state [candidates] – be hired.

On the Pushed Out NPR podcast, one of the guys was saying there’re no jobs downtown, and that’s a lot of people’s perspective on GR. I want people to know they’re meant to be here.

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Fashion is Heart Vol. 2

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I say I’m learning how to love myself because it’s a process, one that will never end. Bodies change. Weight fluctuates, especially if you hate running in cold weather like I do. We age and wrinkle. We can’t always afford the luxury of buying attire we love. We might not have the time to do our nails regularly or put on mascara in the morning. But I love myself, and hopefully you do too, through all of it. Hopefully what I’m wearing isn’t as beautiful as the way I smile and greet others. Hopefully I’m a positive role model for others, someone people want around, because I’m kind and smart and adventurous. Hopefully the me I have to offer is a whole lot more than what I look like. But, it is nice to take some photos in clothes I love once in a while.

Do you live in Michigan or somewhere that I could travel to by car? Let’s do a photo shoot! Let’s talk about non-traditional beauty standards and drink chai tea and smile. Live too far? Send your photos to hyypeonline [at] gmail [dot] com to be featured on Hyype.

Love, as always,
Kelsey May & Jamie


On the model: “Free Your Mind” t-shirt is a Plato’s Closet find, men’s section, size Small.
White chalkboard-style text on black t-shirt is also a Plato’s Closet find, women’s section, size Medium.
Blue scarf is from Goodwill.
Blue anti-Line 5 t-shirt is custom made from Woosah Outfitters.
Bracelet & orange beaded earring from Women At Risk Boutique (check them out FOR SURE, because patronizing an organization that employs / supports previously trafficked women is the best reason to treat yourself to new jewelry and apparel).
Nail polish is from Ella + Mila, a vegan make up and nail polish company.
Shark ring is from Etsy authfashion (one size fits most) and is still in great condition after over a year of owning it.


Model: Kelsey May

Photographer: Jamie Anderson

I cut off twelve inches of my hair. The Art Form of Self-Expression.

My hair was over a foot long. So for my birthday, on July 13, I decided to have it cut.

All together, they cut off about four feet of hair which I plan on donating to a program called Wigs For Kids (linked below.) I’ve donated my hair three times now and will continue to do so as long as my hair grows.

My hair now hangs a little longer than chin-length and I’ve never felt so confident and empowered from a haircut. Maybe it’s the wave in it. Maybe the length. Maybe because it makes me look a little older. But I feel ready to take on the world.

I also like feeling a little rebellious. My hair is short and dyed a blue-green color, which is not very “feminine.” Girls are supposed to have long, natural hair, right? Nowadays, it has become more normal for people to have different haircuts. Pixie cuts, shaved heads, long hair and everything in between. But still, it’s fun to be a little rebellious now and then.

And then I dyed it blue with real hair dye. Not Kool-Aid, which I have also done. I love it so much. Not just because it looks cool or because it’s fun, but because it’s self-expression. Everything you do is an art form, it’s self-expression. Have fun with it!

Speaking of self-expression, I really do think it’s an art form. How you dress, how you do your makeup or if you choose not to. How you act. The things you love. The way your hair is styled. It’s art 1. I think it’s so beautiful that people like to present themselves in different ways that they think is beautiful to them.

If you are looking for some sort of change, get a fun haircut. It’s empowering and fun. It makes you feel good.

Do you have a lot of hair? You should try donating. Wigs For Kids is linked here.

Is your hair dyed? Do you have a cool haircut or just got one? Let us know in the comments!!!

art1
ärt/
noun
  1. 1.
    the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

summer ’17 love

We love to celebrate beauty, so much so that I often stop strangers to ask if I can snap a photo of them. Beauty is about so many things: confidence, selflessness, smiling, charm. What makes you feel beautiful?

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Thanks to Bri Ross, Emily Hubbard, Taylor, Lindsey, and Deborah Zillmer, and Jennifer Beardsley for posing!

BoldSelf

Happy July!!! It’s a little crazy that we have reached the half-way point in this year, but that’s how life works, right?

Today we will be talking about a blog I stumbled upon called Bold Self.

Recently I’ve stumbled upon this awesome blog. I’m not even sure how I found it, but I did and I’m so happy that I did.

BoldSelf.com is a website/blog dedicated to helping people become more confident and love themselves.

You can join a five-day program to gain some confidence, where every day you get a new challenge. It’s awesome. And if you join the email list, she wants you to reply. And actually sends emails back, making you feel like the best person on the planet.

That is about it for today, but I just wanted to let you know about this awesome website/blog, which is linked below this. If you often find it hard to love yourself or be confident, I would check out this website. Very soon I will also put together a challenge for you wonderful people, so stay tuned.

PSST! Don’t forget to join the Wattpad Writing Contest, linked below, too. Don’t have a Wattpad? Email it to jaandersonwrite@gmail.com

Click here for Bold Self

Click here for the Wattpad Contest

***this is not sponsored. Featured Image from Boldself.com

fashion is confidence

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What gives you confidence?

“Taking time to do little things well and focusing on the things my body can do. Not getting caught up in the busyness of things but knowing the things I can do are really powerful. Also, yoga, meditation, and prayer.”
Emily Gross

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beauty is struggle

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When do you struggle most with feeling beautiful?

Emily Neier: “At 8 in the morning when my hair’s all crazy…”

When do you feel most beautiful?

Emily Neier: “When I use funky colored eye shadow, even if I’m just going to work in jeans and a Jimmy John’s t-shirt.”

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