I was like many Goddard students. I discovered this remarkable student-centered pathway in the 1990’s but did not enroll until 2006.
It took that long to manifest Goddard in my life, but it was well worth the discovery.
I was an artist, educator and social worker in the midwest growing my tribe of five beautiful children some by birth and some through open adoption and I gathered multiple advanced degrees along the way, all from competitive institutions like RISD and the University of Michigan. All I truly wanted was to open my soul to my artistic practice and learn how to balance the creativity in my life.
I traveled with my tribe of young children to Vermont many times. In 2002, I came to Goddard for a semester in the low-residency Education Program. I had four children with me, the fifth one not yet born, and we slept on mattresses lined up on the floor of the dorm. My children thought they were on vacation, but I knew this would be a rigorous semester as I created my own learning to get 12 graduate credits to upgrade my current teaching license.
The Education program director and faculty learned more about me than I did about them. I was not just a number or a GPA as I felt I had been at other schools. Others appreciated my ideas for what I wanted to create blending my art, my teaching and my students’ work into a portfolio of creative practice.
I was mesmerized. I was in love. I needed more of Goddard.
Several years later I moved to Vermont, now with five children. I began my MFA in the MFAIA Program and I knew one thing: my life manifested Goddard. I believe that everyday miracles circle us and often in the hurry of our days, we forget to pause and fall in love with our lives. Feel gratitude. Love the small stuff like watching our children sleep, slicing fresh carrots from the garden, walking in rain, painting on large canvases at midnight.
I knew that my work as an artist could not be only art. My life was full and bountiful. My children’s schedules, their lives, their anxieties, their coughs and colds were mine, too. They were the reason I painted and allowed my work to be about our lives coming to Vermont.
A year after arriving I bought the only farmhouse I could afford, high on a hill overlooking a town known for its cheese, farmers and Harry’s Hardware Store. Cabot, Vermont captured my soul and that of my children. Our lives became community-centered and I discovered that Cabot was home to many Goddard graduates.
My artistic practice became this community inside Vermont. The Cabot community sits within a 20 minute drive, on a good weather day, outside the Greatwoods Goddard campus. I started to observe and listen to the locals. I fell in love in Vermont and lost love to death only two years later. In that sadness was my work and I took the grief into my final portfolio, my final semester, and I emerged more than just an MFAIA graduate. I emerged with greater confidence, more articulated beauty in what I knew I needed as an artist because, I discovered what I knew all along: creating my art was about creating my life.
We can manifest our dreams. We start with an intention and surrender ourselves to the journey in front of us. It is about the highs and the lows in life. Goddard is far from an easy “A”. It is about our questions, rarely ever an answer and always taking a risk because we invest in ourselves.
I am proud every semester as I work with our Goddard students now and I hear stories often like my own. I know it takes students a long time to commit to Goddard. I understand the apprehension and fear that being asked, “What do you want to create in your life?”
It is okay to take a long pause before answering.
The Cabot tribe is nearly launched and we are happily all committed to each other in and around Vermont. My paintings continue to explore the landscape while the communities around Vermont inspire me. My commitment to manifesting my life in this place near Goddard, within Vermont, was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Kumari Patricia took her MFAIA work, paintings and writings and published it all in her book: Manifestations of Self Within Place, published by Authorhouse in 2018. While Kumari now lives off-grid in the middle of the woods in the Upper Valley of Vermont, her tribe is nearby and she still holds onto Cabot through her art and connections to that community. Kumari is the director of the Education Program at Goddard.