Office of International Programs

Myra Grace Foxen

Myra Grace Foxen
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico
Spring 2015

As a non-traditional, first generation college student, I have always been my own support group when it comes to my college education. Because I have always had a job in conjunction with my class schedule, I approach my education with a sense of the work world and
have always tried to gain as much well rounded experience as I can, to make myself stand out. As a Fine Art major, I also have come to realize that my personal creative force is largely a result of my travels, and the diverse environments and situations I have put myself in. The more variety of experiences I have, the easier I learn to adapt myself to any situation and relate to all types of people. The more I travel and expand my mind, soaking in the visuals of a new environment, the more resources I am able to draw upon in my own artistic practice. Diversity feeds my creative force and defines my sense of self, which I find I can seen more clearly when what I am used to is starkly juxtaposed against the new things I experience.

For a long time I told myself I would not be able to afford to study abroad during my undergrad program, but I am thankful to say that one day a hair of curiosity led me to see if I could somehow make it work. With the help of the study abroad advisors at USM, I discovered the Kaufman Scholarship, and began the application process to study in Mexico. I chose Mexico because I had a background in Spanish, and had visited briefly once before. The two mediums I use in my artwork are ceramics and textiles. Mexico has long fostered a culture that supports craftsmanship, innovative architecture, fashion, fine arts and music. The country both thrives in the folk and craft genre while continuing to lead in the contemporary art world as well. It is Mexico’s unique mixture of the past and present that captures and holds my attention. The vibrancy is everywhere, giving every handmade object a spirit that is very much alive.

I approached my travels with the notion that I would soak up every drop of color, every sweet and spicy molecule of the chili covered mangos, and every note of music waking me up in the mornings. I was going to save my soul from hibernating in another austere New England winter. With the help of my scholarship I was able to feel comfortable enough to not only pay my rent each month, but to go on adventures as often as I could! On weekends I alternated between exploring the neighboring municipals of Guadalajara’s artisan villages, and taking cheap flights to Mexico City where I attended international art fairs and large music festivals.

 My trip was not only a chance for me to delve deeper into learning the Spanish language, but to soak up the topical colors, the warmth of the people, and the pulsing creativity everywhere. I grew in so many ways, and by the end of my trip I did not want to come home. I had grown to love the people who exceeded all my expectations and generalizations. I feel that the more I travel the more I realize that all people are the same-we love good food, we love to connect, and we love to feel understood and inspired by one another-but it’s our differences that keep the world vibrant and alive. I was told that Mexico would be a dangerous place, especially for a female traveling alone. But I realized that no matter where you are, people are inclined to keep each other safe. I never felt scared because every new friend and taxi driver I met would give me tips on staying safe and enjoying the culture to its fullest without every needing to be afraid. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world, and I am so grateful I was able to soak up so much inspiration for my own artistic practice, as well as practice and grow my skills in the Spanish language.