Q and A with Shellece from the Rocky Mountains, Utah
“I remember one week we had $16 for groceries. Those difficult few years were extremely stressful, but I gained some practical skills that I appreciate and use now. ”
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: Hey, I am Shellece Durfee! I am an artist and photographer. I was born and raised in Utah near the Rocky Mountains. I am a mom of two cute little girls, Lily (age 7) and Mariah (age 6). I just celebrated my 10th anniversary with my husband, Shea. I earned my bachelor’s degree in fine art from Utah State University. I teach painting classes, and I paint custom portraits. I also love newborn photography.
When my babies were born, I stayed home with them and we had to live extremely frugally because we were living on less than $20,000 a year and my husband was still in school. As a matter of fact, I thought we were rich when my husband got a raise to $20,000 a year. I worked my tail end off doing meal planning, budgeting, sewing clothes for my girls, and taking the best pictures I could of my babies. I learned how to make bread to save money. We basically lived off of homemade bread, egg burritos, macaroni, and hot dogs for about four years. I felt like I was drowning and I was scrambling trying to think of ways to make some money on the side. I remember one week we had $16 for groceries. I had some food storage, so we made it work. I spent occasional weeknights drawing and painting when my girls were in bed and I had friends and family who paid me to paint custom portraits of their loved ones and I taught some art lessons. Other good friends paid me to do some photography for them. Those difficult few years were extremely stressful, but I gained some practical skills that I appreciate and use now.
I am in a local artists guild and I regularly practice painting and photography. I would love to illustrate my own children’s picture books, license my designs, and teach online art courses in the near future.
Q: What were your younger years like?
A: As a child, I experienced neglect and abuse in my home. I used art, walking around in nature, and playing the piano to survive the abuse and feel okay in my life. Being creative gave me an outlet for relieving stress. Art was one of the things I enjoyed and it was something I could control during a very isolating time in my life. Creativity brought me a sense of accomplishment and joy. I continue to develop my talents because it still brings me a feeling of accomplishment and it is an important part of me. I think there is a lot of power in being creative. I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t had these tools for reducing my anxiety and calming my mind. I would love to help others feel the relief I have felt by creating.
Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?
A: I have learned that keeping my mind and body active during difficult phases of my life has given me the will to hope for better times and to make the most of the difficult challenges we go through. Pursuing creative endeavors helped me stay optimistic and okay during the hardest parts of my life. I can take negative emotions and energy and turn them into something beautiful, and I think everyone is creative and artistic in one way or another. We just have to give ourselves permission to do it.
Q: What does feminism mean to you?
A: Feminism means assuring that women have equal financial, educational, and social opportunities that men. As women become more celebrated in the world I think it is very important that we continue to facilitate respect and dignity toward men simultaneously. Men and women are and should be considered equal and treated humanely. So I suppose from my perspective feminism means humanity for all.
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