Lessons from My Grandparents

Growing up in the South, I have always been surrounded by traditions, values, and ways of life that define this unique region. As I journey through my master’s at the University of Mobile, I find myself continually drawing inspiration from the heart and soul of this culture—my grandparents. Their lives, characterized by hard work, resourcefulness, and a knack for figuring things out, offer a wealth of wisdom that deeply influences my creative practice.

The Legacy of Hard Work

My grandparents epitomize the Southern work ethic. They spent their lives working the land, fishing the waters, and contributing to the community in ways that were both humble and profound. My grandfather, Leon Stallings, would wake up before dawn, to work in the garden harvesting that season’s crops. His hands, weathered and strong, tell stories of resilience and determination. My grandmother, Alice Stallings a woman who embodies everything good in this world would manage the household with grace, turning every task into an act of love and care.

Their relentless work ethic has instilled in me a sense of dedication and perseverance. In my creative endeavors, I strive to embody the same commitment, knowing that every piece of art or project I undertake requires patience, effort, and a deep-rooted passion.

Conservation and Resourcefulness

Living in a region where nature’s bounty is both a gift and a responsibility, my grandparents practiced conservation long before it became a popular movement. They taught me the importance of using resources wisely, whether it was through preserving food, repurposing materials, or simply being mindful of waste.

My grandmother’s kitchen was a place of culinary creativity, where nothing went to waste. She could turn the simplest ingredients into a feast, embodying the idea that resourcefulness can lead to great beauty and satisfaction. This principle translates into my creative work, where I find joy in using sustainable materials and finding innovative ways to repurpose everyday objects into art.

The Art of Figuring Things Out

Perhaps the most valuable lesson my grandparents imparted is the art of figuring things out. In a world without the convenience of Google or YouTube tutorials, they relied on their ingenuity and problem-solving skills to navigate life’s challenges. Whether it was fixing a broken tool, solving a problem, or devising new ways to make ends meet, they approached each problem with a calm determination and a creative mindset.

This ability to figure things out is a cornerstone of my creative practice. It encourages me to embrace challenges, experiment with new techniques, and trust in my ability to find solutions. It reminds me that creativity is not just about artistic expression but also about innovative thinking and resilience.

A Tribute to Coastal Southern Culture

As I reflect on the influence of my grandparents, I see their legacy woven into the fabric of my culture. Their lives, marked by hard work, resourcefulness, and an indomitable spirit, are a testament to the enduring values of this region. Through my work, I hope to honor their memory and share the beauty of place we call home.

In every piece of art I create, every story I tell, and every challenge I overcome, I carry a piece of my grandparents with me.