I Can Do Hard Things

Hey everyone,

It has been quite sometime since I last blogged. It is my second time to be honest. Today is INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY! My hopes for this day is that my people do not dwell on the hardships of our ancestors, but celebrate the survivorship instead. We have a story that I am learning more and more about and it deserves proper recognition and it deserves to be celebrated. We are VICTORS!

Now, I think it is awesome that my newest mural has been completed right on time for this day. The content of this piece is completely fitting. I will give you a little "about" on this mural and how it came to be.

In 2019 I donated a mural to the Arts for All Gala as a silent auction item in efforts to continue my support for the arts in my community. It was bid on and won by our very own local, Anthony Santiago with Lawton Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge. He stayed involved with this project from start to finish. This included feeding the oh, so starving artist.

The mural was to be 8x10-ish in size, the content had to be Oklahoma/Lawton/Southwest concept, and the location was to be under the overpass of Fort Sill Blvd. and Cache Rd..

Covid, like countless other events and projects, stalled the production of this mural. However, it DID NOT FAIL. It was finally able to come to life.

This mural includes many things that you can find here in Lawton, Ok. Wheat, scissortail, the wonderful sun, a feather, tribal design, and a portrait of a beautiful,  native woman, Jennifer Clayborn. I stumbled across her image on social media and saved it knowing I would include her in a painting one day. With her permission I decided this mural would be perfect with her included. She represents our melting pot of city. She is Red Lake Chippewa, Kiowa, and Cheyenne.

This piece is called "I Can Do Hard Things". What you don't see is when painting this mural I was going through one of the hardest times in my life and I still am trudging through it, if I am being completely honest. At the same time, like always, I was listening to an audiobook called The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It is about two strong sisters persevering  in the middle of World War ll and is based on actual events. This novel was suggested by a dear friend, Kelly McDonald who serves in our United States Army. So, many strong women intertwined all at once. I thought of the woman I was painting and her history, the brave characters in my audiobook, Kelly and the women before her,  myself and the women before me and that surround me now. We are all completely connected. We have ancestors that went through hellacious trials and just like them, we will come out on the other side. We are can do hard things.

I know, I know. I am being too deep, but sometimes things hit you in a new way and it just can't help but make you grow. 

Here is my loooong explanation about an 8x10 painting. 

Thank you to Jenny Whitaker for asking me to do this for the Arts for All, thank you to Anthony Santiago for your purchase and contribution to the art community, thank you to the City of Lawton and all of the departments that were involved in this project, thank you to Levi Easley with A & M striping for donating your traffic barriers, thank you to The Fike Family for keeping my baby while I worked, thank you to Albert Rivas for just being there and for caring as much as you do, thank you to Cheyenne Cole for being a great friend and for all the support, and thank you to Jennifer Clayborn for allowing me to paint that proud face of yours.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support. Someone pinch me please!




- In Memory of Marissa Santiago -