In the fall of 2000, I was awarded a Visiting Artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, a tiny village a few hours from both rural Canada and New York City. I had been out of art school only a year and wanted to continue my creative growth among other working artists, a luxury you take for granted while in school. I found the residency atmosphere to be one of the most productive times of my life, although it lasted only 3 weeks, and I made friends that will last a lifetime. I had nothing to do but work on my art, without distractions, and there was a warm, supportive community of artists to learn from outside of the constraints of the academic environment. I was for the first time, free to do as I wanted to as an artist. Free to try and fail, which is where true growth lies I was discovering.