Many, many moons ago, a spirited child ran around the town of Ashland, Oregon, blessing everyone she met by sharing her talent. As a small child Cherry spent many hours with pen in hand. At two years old she had this intense frustration when the lines wouldn’t take shape the way she intended. I would soothe her and say: “Everything will be alright. Your art is beautiful.”
I was studying photo journalism and sociology and wanted to be a war correspondent, but as a single parent with a toddler I made other choices. I put my energy in to developing mine and my daughter’s creativity. Cherry and me spent time under the red lamp in the darkroom learning about B&W processing. By the time she was five we were learning Photoshop together. She helped me design her 5th birthday party invitation on an original Power Mac.
In first grade Cherry joined an organization I founded called the Ashland Photographer’s Group. She participated in monthly projects and exhibited her first image at our 20/20 Visions gallery in 1999. She not only used my Nikon and studio lighting to take her photos, she printed them herself in the darkroom and framed it. At age seven she entitled her diptic: The Eye of Love and the Eye of Fearless. In retrospect, that dichotomy has been a theme in her life ever since.
Cherry became interested in fashion design when she was ten and took her drawing to the next level. By 12 years old she was scanning her drawings, coloring them in Photoshop, printing them on transfer paper, and ironing the images on skirts she made by hand. The drawings were funky little robots – something you’d see in an animated cartoon. These exposed stitching skirts were purchased by Buffalo Exchange. I tried to encourage her to start a clothing line, but a kid in middle school has other priorities – such as learning the bass guitar to be like her dad.
Cherry left Oregon in 2007 due to the overcrowded, suburban school that lacked creative stimulation because of budget cuts that eliminated art classes. So she moved to her dad’s house and enrolled in Tucson High Magnet School of Art and Science. While I became completely lost without her, I encouraged her spirit from afar. The most growth she has experienced to date happened during those two years at Tucson High. She excelled in photography. She won national awards. She exhibited at Yale and Carnegie Hall. She was awarded a full scholarship to Pima Community College and a partial one to California College of Arts.
Now with nearly two years of college behind her, it is time for Miss Cherry Rain to be further challenged by the University of London, College of the Arts. Cherry is fearless. She has been since she first learned to walk 20 years, 2 months and 7 days ago. Nothing can stop her. The only thing holding her back is the lack of loans available for her to attend school abroad. We can’t let the financial realities keep a dream from becoming a reality. I cannot and will not allow money to be the one thing to limit my child’s future opportunities.
Malcom Gladwell in Outliers wrote of the man with the highest recorded IQ who lost his college scholarship (apparently because his mom failed to sign a piece of paper) and went on to become a bouncer at a bar not able to reach his potential. The man became skeptical of life and the world around him. This happens every day to millions of people. People survive by saying: “It wasn’t meant to be.” But do you know what? It is meant to be. We can all achieve whatever we want. It takes endurance, willingness and tenacity.
I first challenge you to look inward at what you want to achieve in your life. Share that desire with someone. If you say it out loud, it is more likely to happen. Second, I ask that you support Miss Cherry Rain in her artistic and educational endeavors. You can do this in one of several ways:
- Write her a letter of encouragement: cherrywrain @ gmail.com
- Purchase a reproduction of her art work: $25 for a small print (under 5×7), $50 for a large print (8×10)
- Donate $100-$500 and receive an original signed drawing (size depends on donation)
- Travel to Tucson before September 15, 2013, to get an original Cherry Rain stick-n-poke tattoo (yes, she also uses skin as her canvas) Price varies
- Hire me to photograph your family, wedding, or next event – portrait sittings start at $100 (plus travel) and I ask that you pay in advance
- Co-sign a student loan for Cherry – rest assured that I assume complete responsibility for the re-payment of the loan
I believe that what I put into making the world a better place will pay generously in non-financial rewards. But I also know that when I support others, I feel a sense of community by helping people know they are not alone. None of us are alone in this world, and please know if you need someone now or in the future, you can count on me.
Sincerely with much love,
Tania “Lola” Rain
tanialolarain @ gmail.com
503 867 5244