As the year 2024 begins, I am going to get a bit introspective and take a look back on the past few years…
2020 was, frankly, the worst year of my life. I didn’t share the extent of my struggles at the time, but the events going on in the world – the Covid pandemic and the policies implemented in response to it, the 2020 election, and the protests that resulted in statues being removed and torn down – really negatively impacted my mental health. Particularly the statues. For reasons that are difficult to explain, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I was extraordinarily angry and sad about what had happened, and it affected work, friendships, hobbies, and every area of my life. No one understood why I felt so strongly about metal and stone sculptures. I felt alone, I felt unheard, and I felt powerless to change anything.
2021 was a difficult year as well. The horrible things happening to the statues continued, as did the pandemic and the authoritarian actions taken in response to it. Feeling that I needed a major change in my life, I left my job and started a completely different one, which came with mixed emotions. I did experience some glimmers of hope, however: I connected with fellow Italian Americans who share my love of Christopher Columbus, and while scrolling through social media, I discovered an opportunity to put up my very own statue.
2022 was a year of ups and downs. I struggled with finding the time and energy to do the things I wanted to do, as well as with striking the right balance between speaking out about my beliefs but not wanting to be so controversial that I would lose friends and opportunities. Overall this was a year in which I became more active in expressing my views, honoring the historical figures who are so important to me, and trying to make a difference. I began sharing my artwork publicly and selling it at local fairs and festivals. Most importantly, Stonewall Jackson came into existence and came to live in my yard, which I consider to be the most significant accomplishment in my life.
In 2023, I continued to make progress on my journey of healing and finding my place in the world as an authentic person. Stonewall Jackson was by my side, experiencing all the seasons of Massachusetts and celebrating all of the holidays with me. Additionally, Christopher Columbus got his head re-attached to his body and returned to view, although not in the way that would have been ideal. Many people don’t understand why someone with a degree from Harvard would want to work at a grocery store. Many people don’t understand why someone would care so much about statues and be affected so strongly by what happens to them. My way of seeing the world is different from most people’s, and that is OK.
In 2024, I hope to continue expressing myself through drawing and writing, and I hope to incorporate the historical figures that I love into my life as much as possible.
Cheers to 2024!