History of Trauma in Environmental Art: German Romanticism


Joseph Beuys, 7,000 Oaks: City Forestation Instead of Administration, 1982, basalt stones, oak trees.

Beuys notably falls within the tradition of German Romantics because he emphasized “the artistic voice as the central source of cultural authenticity.” He also privileged speech and action over other forms of communication, which presented the German culture as an “oral nature-based tradition disturbed by the intrusions of modernity.”

Beuys’ work aligns similarly with Arthur Schopenhauer, a German Romantic philosopher, who was interested in the universal spirit of the world and the connections between the spirit and its physical manifestations into art. Steiner and Anthropososphists were, as well, interested in ideas put forth by the German Romantics. Steiner went as far as designing a Goetheanum in Dornoch, Switzerland, which was the center for the Anthroposophical movement. Like Steiner and the Anthropososphists, the German Romantics wanted to synthesize art, politics, and science and find a balance between the rational and the supernatural.


Goethe was of particular inspiration to Beuys. Beuys was drawn to Goethe’s idea of observation that focused on the consciousness of the object and one’s direct experience with objects especially in terms of nature. Goethe believed in making sense of nature in a holistic way valuing the subjective viewpoint of the individual and noted the spiritual knowledge that manifested throughout all living beings on the planet. Primarily known as a literary writer, Goethe also wrote on the science of plants and colors that focused on close observation of the natural world. Beuys explored Goethe’s ideas around the consciousness of living beings in 7,000 Oaks. As noted, the area around Kassel, Germany, was destroyed during World War II. The ecological damage was paramount, but through 7,000 Oaks Beuys was able to revitalize the landscape and ensure that spiritual knowledge of the land was not lost forever. Through replanting these trees, Beuys did more than simply restore a barren landscape. According to Beuys, “the intention of such a tree-planting event is to point up the transformation of all of life, of society, and the whole ecological system.” Through close observation of the land he recognized that the spirit of the land was damaged and repaired this damage through planting 7,000 trees and commemorated this task with permanent plaques. Goethe and Beuys valued the land as a living being and through projects such as 7,000 Oaks Beuys was able to heal the land in terms exemplified by Goethe.

History of Trauma in Environmental Art: Connections between Beuys and af Klint

Perhaps, the most widely known Anthroposophist artist in our time is Hilma af Klint (1862-1944). In the fall of 2018, the Guggenheim Museum presented the first solo exhibition in the United States of af Klint’s work. Af Klint was born in Sweden and formally trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. The art that af Klint made for the public was typically landscapes and botanical illustrations. Her private art, however, was abstract in style and considered offensive by many in her life, including Steiner, as she used mediumship as a method for her painting. At her death, af Klint arranged for her art to be preserved and not shown until fifty years after her death. Her work was first shown at an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1985––only forty-one years after her death. Influenced by Anthroposophy, of course, af Klint lived through and was inspired by scientific breakthroughs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries such as the discovery of the atom and the invention of the x-ray. Moreover, she survived the Spanish flu pandemic as well as two world wars, which might also be reflected in her work.

Hilma af Klint, No.1, Childhood, 1907, oil on canvas.

Af Klint is best known for her automatic painting, which is a process of painting where she put herself in a deep spiritual state that was guided by the High Ones––primarily Amalel, a spirit personality. She explained these paintings as, “pictures [that] were painted directly though me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict. Nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke. Af Klint’s largest paintings were completed in 1907 and represent the “four stages of life and humanity’s connections to the universe.” The four paintings, Childhood, Youth, Adulthood, and Old Age are large tempura paintings mounted on canvas. The paintings include mandalas, flowers, and various shapes with deep symbolism describing the Axiom of Maria, a concept for a sequence that follows “the dynamic unfolding from unconsciousness, to the emergence of one-sided consciousness, to the cognition of the opposites of consciousness and unconsciousness, and finally to the integration of duality into a new conscious attitude through the process of individualization.”

Using Steiner’s definitions of the body, af Klint’s paintings focused on the astral body and its connections to other realms of existence as seen through her communication with the High Ones. Even though af Klint’s existence in the art world during her life was a radical act (af Klint was an unwed woman making a living as an artist at the turn of the twentieth century), her art was not focused on politics and social reform. This vastly differs from Beuys approach. Beuys valued spirituality as well, but instead of using mediumship to connect with other unworldly aspects, like mediumship, he believed that spirituality was innate in the world around us and could be grasped by connecting with nature. Moreover, Beuys’s art practice was focused on politics and social reform, unlike af Klint who used her art to connect with the High Ones.


History of Trauma in Environmental Art: The Esoteric Origins of Beuys

While serving in the Nazi Luftwaffe, Beuys aircraft was downed by Allied forces. This crash gave Beuys the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself and create a narrative that centered the artist as a worldly man with knowledge of mystical ideas from both German and Indigenous communities. For his entire career Beuys drew from this crash in his artwork––either purposefully appearing as a shaman with inherent connections to the mystic or as a lecturer explaining these ideas as a progressive take on the end of Modernism. Either way, Beuys’s entire career was set on course due to this crash and the trauma that ensued.

Returning to civilian life, Beuys slowly became interested in the thoughts of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of an esoteric religion known as Anthroposophy. Steiner philosophized about the connections between science and spirituality, which favored both individualism and the arts. He also advocated for education reform, sustainable agriculture, and equality across race, religion, and political affiliation. Steiner’s ideas focused on the nature of the human being and he attempted to understand the world through the scientific method and rational thought. In particular, the nature of the human body was of utmost importance due to the ability of the physical body to hold both the “etheric body” (the body that gives life) as well as the “astral body” (the body that holds consciousness).

Beuys considered the end of Modernism to be a positive transition to a culture that supports an expanded definition of art, where everyone could participate in both art making and democratic processes simultaneously. Beuys summarized the problems of a modern world by saying there is a “complexity between the power of money and the power of the state.” If Beuys had his way, society would move to focusing on the collective, which would move economic endeavors away from ecological destruction, profiting off of minorities, and a focus on material wealth. Beuys’s deviation would stray from a capitalist global economy to an economy that favored art, equality, and ecological restoration.


For Beuys and Steiner, Modernism arose at the point where high modern art and the esoteric meet. Modernism is often disconnected from spiritual life, and both Steiner and Beuys attempt to bring these connections that are often dismissed in favor of rationalism to the forefront. In terms of defining Modernism for both Steiner and Beuys a definition of innovative, future-oriented art production that valued global religious traditions and systems should suffice.

History of Trauma in Environmental Art: Art in the West during the 1960s and 1970s

In the 1960s and 1970s, artists, particularly in the western United States, began modifying the land to create art with the intention to remove their art from the New York art scene. Bored with minimal art and disenchanted with the art world at large, land artists, such as Robert Smithson (1938-1973), turned to the Earth for artistic inspiration. Concerned with distancing themselves from the consumer art circuit, and not environmental preservation, land artists used the Earth as a form of expression. Oftentimes, these artists took advantage of the land, as exemplified through Smithson’s 1970 Spiral Jetty, which made physical and semi-permanent scars into Rozel Point on the banks of Utah’s Great Salt Lake

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, basalt rock, salt crystals, earth, water.

Smithson constructed Spiral Jetty with the intent, and knowledge, that the artwork would eventually fade back into the Lake. Smithson referred to this idea as entropy. For Smithson, entropy is the idea that his projects would eventually fade back into their original state of existence and erase all evidence of his alteration of the landscape. Spiral Jetty was built near Golden Spike National Historic site, the location where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads first linked in 1869 creating the first overland rail route across the United States. The location of Spiral Jetty was not a coincidence and can be linked to American ideals of Manifest Destiny and the supremacy of man over nature. Smithson removed over six thousand tons of basalt and earth from the site of the installation to form a fifteen-hundred-foot-long spiral that coils counterclockwise off of the shore. The artist, in part, chose the specific location due to its unusual geologic properties––the presence of microbes causing a reddish tint to the water.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wall of Oil Barrels: Iron Curtain, 1962, oil barrels.

While American artists were disregarding the value of the land and modifying it to suit their tastes, environmental art looked different in Europe. At this point Christo and Jeanne-Claude were still reeling from the traumas of the war and produced art that reflected this mindset. Aiming to connect with the environment Christo and Jeanne-Claude installed Wall of Oil Barrels-Iron Curtain in 1962, an installation comprised of eighty-nine oil barrels on a street––rue Visconti––in central Paris. Rue Visconti was chosen as the installation site because creating a barricade on this street would cut off traffic between rue Bonaparte and rue de Seine during rush hour in the city, which blocked most of the traffic on Paris’ Left Bank during the evening it was on display. Cutting off the flow of traffic through the city caused a major disruption for the public and mirrored the current crises in Algeria and in Berlin, namely the Algerian War and the construction of the Berlin Wall. The barrels were installed on their side, unaltered, in their original paint colors, featuring rust that had naturally formed on the barrels from their exposure to the elements.


Joseph Beuys, 7,000 Oaks: City Forestation Instead of Administration, 1982, basalt stones, oak trees.

Joseph Beuys transformed the area near Kassel, Germany, by planting seven thousand oak trees in association with documenta VII in 1982 for a project called 7,000 Oaks: City Forestation Instead of Administration. As with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work, 7,000 Oaks focuses on the trauma from World War II. While Christo and Jeanne-Claude use the trauma involved specifically from the construction of the Berlin Wall and how this impacted the Germans, in 7,000 Oaks Beuys was referencing the trauma of the land rather than the people. Throughout the war the landscape around Kassel, specifically, was damaged from bombings. Beuys wanted to restore the land to its pre-war state as an attempt to heal the trauma that was caused. In tandem with over five hundred volunteers, Beuys and his team planted seven thousand oak trees that were each marked with a single basalt stone. The project itself took over five years to complete and continued even after Beuys’s death. Beuys was a proponent of social sculpture, which was derived from Anthroposophy and Marxist thought. Social sculpture is an expanded concept of art where everyone should be allowed democratic participation in the art world. To Beuys, art was no longer solely defined as painting and sculpture, but considered any intentional creative practice that bridged the gap between life and art. Beuys and his idea of social sculpture wanted creativity and art to be the driving force of the economy rather than labor, as endorsed by the capitalists. Beuys thought that 7,000 Oaks and other associated works would unlock a radical societal shift that would lead towards environmental preservation on a global scale.

According to Beuys his entire myth of rebirth began while fighting for the Nazis when his plane was shot down in northern Crimea, near present day Znamianka. After the crash, Beuys was rescued by a group of nomads known as the Tatars who were disenfranchised by the Soviet Union and therefore interested in helping the Nazi pilot. In his narrative of rebirth, Beuys asserted that he lived with the Tatars for twelve days, and supposedly the Tatars became so fond of Beuys that he was invited to stay with them when the Germans came to his rescue. Beuys’s myth of self-creation states that the Tatars rescued him from his crashed aircraft, cared for his wounds using a salve made from animal fat, and kept him warm with felt. The well-known story of the Tatar’s rescuing Beuys and nursing him back to health emerged in the 1970s. This tale has been proven false by many scholars and journalists, but still bolstered his public persona through attachment with a heroic survival story.


The land art that was being made in the American West in the mid-twentieth century glorified whiteness and the heteropatriarchy without equal consideration of Indigenous communities that the land belongs to. Even in Europe, environmental artist and activist, Beuys, was plagued by his own personal trauma that forced him to confront his wartime deeds. Christo and Jeanne-Claude were carrying the burden of those trapped by the Berlin Wall, and those who were living in a war zone in Algeria. The European artists were using their own experiences, trauma, and the recent memories of their fellow countrymen to create art that explored their collective trauma and, in the case of Beuys, proposed ways to heal.


History of Trauma in Environmental Art: A Short Introduction to the Hudson River School

At some point, hopefully in the next few weeks, a kind USPS delivery person will hand over my diploma from York University. Over the past two years I have been working on my Master of Arts in the History of Art degree, where I have focused on the history of trauma in the life of Joseph Beuys.

The mere act of earning my degree was a rollercoaster—from immigrating to a new country, my apartment building catching fire, the ever impending doom of COVID-19, and completing most of my degree from a country away. But today, I have completed all of my coursework, submitted my MRP, and now I’m just waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail.

Today, I want to introduce you to my major topic of research and in subsequent posts I’ll give you all of the juicy details from two years of research.

Let’s go!

The legacy of environmental art is as old as art itself, and can be traced back to Paleolithic cave paintings and drawings. In order to keep my sanity, my research only considered artists using the land for inspiration in North America and Europe since the mid-1800s.

Since the colonization of the Americas, Europeans thought that the environment of the continent needed to be controlled. Colonizers aimed to tame and subdue the natural world. Differing from Indigenous communities, the colonizers built cities and community structures that harmed the landscape, and through their mere presence traumatized the Indigenous communities throughout the Americas through forced labor, relocation, spread of deadly disease as well as ecological destruction.

The Hudson River School painters documented the colonization and Modernization of the northeastern region of the United States. Working from 1825 to 1875, painters associated with the Hudson River School produced paintings that provided Americans with an “attractive self-image, a shared political identity and a reflection of their desire for moral and religious truths.” Inspired by the Catskill Mountains, the Adirondacks, Lake George, and the Hudson River, primarily as a means to transport paintings to the art market in New York City, the Hudson River painters used their canvases to deliver allegorical narratives about mid-century life in New York. The group valued close observation of nature and precision of details.

Thomas Cole, Destruction, 1834, oil on canvas.

Acclaimed founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole’s (1801-1848) The Course of an Empire (1833-1836)series tells the allegorical narrative of the rise and fall of an empire, with the underlying message that pastoralism was the ideal phase of human civilization. Works like Cole’s and the rest of the Hudson River School spread appealing images and ideas as propaganda and justification for the traumatization of Indigenous communities. These paintings normalized the idea that Indigenous communities were “savage” or “primitive” and needed a helping hand, which was conveniently provided by the European colonists who promptly murdered, relocated, or inflicted other wounds on these communities.

The Salvage Paradigm was coined by early twentieth century anthropologist Jacob W. Gruber and refers to the necessity to preserve so-called weaker cultures so that their culture is not fully lost, but not favored in mainstream society.[1] The Hudson River School perpetuated this idea in their paintings. However, non-Native colonizers like the Hudson River School painters robbed Indigenous peoples of their past and their future through exploitation of their culture and redefining Indigenous identities in terms that their audience (of mostly European ancestry) would accept. Moreover, this principle does not allow for Indigenous communities to publicly claim their own heritage in terms of the legacy that has been passed down, as oftentimes their legacy has been muddled with the white man’s idea of who they should be.[2] The trauma of the land and Indigenous communities in the West can be further exemplified through the idea of Indigenous Place Thought, “which is based upon the premise that land is alive and thinking and that humans and non-humans derive agency through extensions of these thoughts.”[3] If Indigenous histories are considered to be manifested in place, then their agency and spirit exist in all things and are related to one another and the collective story of our planet. Therefore, ecological devastation is an act of violence against not only humans, but all living creatures as well as the land itself.


[1] Jacob W. Gruber, “Ethnographic Salvage and the Shaping of Anthropology,” American Anthropologist 72 no. 6 (1970): 1294.

[2] Stephen Warren and Ben Barnes, “Salvaging the Salvage Anthropologists: Erminie Wheeler-Coegelin, Carl Voegelin and the Future of Ethenohistory,” Journal of the American Society for Ethnography 65, no. 2 (April 2018): 189-191.

[3] Zoe Todd, “Indigenizing the Anthropocene,” in Art of the Anthropocene, ed. Heather Davis and Etinne Turpin (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015): 245-246.

Reminiscing on the Pandemic

Like everyone else, the pandemic changed my 2020 plans—just a bit.

I graduated college in the spring of 2019, and frankly never planned to return to Kirksville. In May of 2019, I said my goodbyes to my favorite restaurants, stores, and parks. After living in a town for three years it’s easy to get attached. Even though Kirksville isn’t some sort of northern Missouri paradise it still held so many transformative memories for me.

What I didn’t know, is that I would ride out the first four months of the pandemic in Kirksville. Throughout these four months I became accustomed to my old college town—getting take out from my favorite sushi restaurant, getting drive-thru coffees, driving down my favorite roads, and hiking on my favorite trails.

I became so accustomed to small town life and living in Kirksville again, that I knew saying goodbye a second time would still be a little sad.

There are so many places that hold special memories to me in town, and I knew that there was no way to photograph every location (partly due to quarantine restrictions and partly due to time constrictions). So, my partner (and our sweet pup Buca) and I decided to take a long walk through town and just reminisce. I brought my Canon AE-1 and a roll of Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400.

Northern Lites, A Virtual Exhibition

I’ve talked before about my apprehension regarding curating. I see it as being an inherently creative practice in the same vein of painting and drawing. Of course, you can hone your creative skills, which is what I am doing through my curatorial practice diploma, but it is still something that I’ve been nervous about doing for a job.

The best way to get over your fears and nervousness about anything is to just do it, right?

So, my friends and I set off on a journey to produce an exhibition as the final project for our curatorial practice class.

Northern Lites, as the project was affectionately called, traces the relationship between the digital and natural world through the inclusion of Canadian artists who incorporate nature, the legacy of landscape painting, and recent developments of technology. The artists selected for this project explore the land through multimedia, painting, and sculpture while inviting viewers to interpret their own personal relationship to the digital era in terms how they see the natural world.

Beyond simply grouping together likeminded Canadian artists, we also had to make a budget and exhibition floor plan, write the didactics for the proposed installation, make a website, and make programming. We also had to write a bit connecting this project to our course readings and lectures throughout the semester.

Overall, the creation of Northern Lites taught me a lot about daily activities of a curator. There is so much more to being a curator than simply being creative. Curators have to organize, make calls, plan, write, and so much more. These are all things that I’m good at. Maybe I could be a curator if I wanted to.

If you’d like to check out our online exhibition click here.

Reintroductions

So, it’s been eight weeks.

Looking back, eight weeks ago everything looked oh so different.

Here’s my pandemic roundup.

By early March, Canada had over thirty cases of COVID-19. Day by day the situation seemed more dire, and for me as an immigrant I was worried if I would be allowed to leave Canada, and if so when. After one late night texting conversation with my Graduate Director I bought the next flight out of Toronto to the United States. I left Toronto on March 13, 2020.

My first flight to St. Louis got cancelled. My second flight to Kansas City got cancelled, too. I wasn’t able to rebook that flight so I was forced to fly to the next closest city, which was Nashville. My best friend, and Nashville resident, picked me and my four oversized suitcases up from the arrivals terminal. In the next few days she drove me to Missouri, where I’ve been ever since.

I’m so thankful that my GD allowed me to return home and finish my courses. I’m also thankful that I got back into the US before the border shut down. Thankfully, as an American I’d always be welcome home, but it would certainly be an added (and unnecessary) stress having to navigate mostly shut borders.

Beyond finishing my classes, I haven’t been up too much. Between taking care of my dog, baking, and spending time outdoors it feels like the days turn into a soup of events, weather patterns, and distanced conversations that can all be characterized as the same.

In the coming weeks I hope to share a few of my end of term projects, and a special project that a friend and I are working on.

I guess I’m a Writer

A few weeks ago we had a guest in one of our seminars, and he opened his talk with a question. 

He asked, “How many of you are writers?”

In our group of first year grad students, only one of us publicly admitted to being an author. 

I mean, we’re art historians! Yeah, we write essays on essays and conduct research for journal and magazines. But no, of course we’re not authors. 

The guest speaker preceded to tell us that we’re all authors and we should consider ourself as such. 

Never have I ever considered myself an author. Sure, I wrote a 150 page undergraduate thesis, blog weekly, constantly write for grad school, and am working on getting a few articles published. But, no, no, I’m not a writer. I’ve always considered writing to be such a big creative endeavor. Authors have to have so much field experience, take time to write and rewrite, go through writers block, constantly have a list on potential ideas to add to their writing… 

Then, the realization slapped me in the face. 

I am a writer. 

When I was a kid I had this green spiral bound notebook and each day after school I couldn’t wait to get home to continue narrating my Harry Potter spin-off series about a young witch named Jasmin. 

Frankly, school doesn’t come easy to me. I was never one of those students who could just sit and absorb all of the information presented in class. Instead, I had to spend time reading the textbook and reteaching myself the materials presented over and over until it finally stuck. Scientific theories must be explained to me over and over, and math concepts go in one ear and out the other with no comprehension. But something about writing was different. For some reason I’ve never had a problem turning my thoughts into sentences on paper. In middle and high school I took a bunch of writing classed, but in undergrad I didn’t take any English classes. I didn’t miss out on writing, don’t worry. Basically all of my art history classes were writing intensive. We worked on thesis statements, grammar, essay organization, and citation guidelines all under the guise of studying art.

Knowing all of this, how, after studying art history for 6 years, am I just now considering myself a writer. 

How did this happen? 

Anyway, proof that grad school is about more than only turning in assignments and making connections. It’s also about finding your strengths and the things you like to do and finding ways to integrate them into your career.

Thanks APO

In undergrad I was involved in Alpha Phi Omega, one of the largest international collegiate service organizations. Looking back to my time at Truman, so much of my identity was rooted in APO—wearing letters to class, weekend service trips, chapter and exec meetings, and just random hangouts with friends. Now, in grad school, I’m realizing so much of my identity is rooted in the things that I learned while apart of APO. 

In APO our pillars are leadership, friendship, and service. Through our pledging process we’re taught that serving on the exec board will benefit the chapter at large, doing community service will help our community, and that friendship is the key to a happy life. But for me, the true meanings of these pillars didn’t sink in until a bit later. 

I completed over three hundred hours of community service throughout my time in my chapter. Of course doing good in the community was transformative, but the most important thing I learned was to be of service, not to just the community or to my Brothers, but to anyone who needs it. To me, this is different than doing service. Being of service means fixing a problem without being asked, and asking for no praise and just doing good because you can. Being of service to others makes your heart feel warm, and presumably you bring someone joy. What’s better than that? 

Being of service directly connects with our pillar of friendship. In my opinion, one of the best qualities of a friend is one who is of service. Someone who will give you advice, tell you when you’re wrong, and just generally be around when you need them to be. This idea of being of service has transformed my idea of what it means to be a friend, and a colleague to the students in my program. I want to be friends with others in our program, and I realized that I went about making new friends in a way that is so familiar to APO’s principles. Plus, being apart of a group with a collective identity taught me to advocate for everyone, even if they’re ‘competing’ with me. Grad school can sometimes feel like a big competition–who can get the most funding, the most prestigious internships, or write the best essay. But instead of wanting something my colleagues earn, I’m proud of them. We’re all apart of the same program, and maybe I’ll get the next scholarship, who knows! 

I also served as my chapter President during my last year in APO. Getting into the position I assumed I would be organizing meetings, putting out fires from small interpersonal problems, and generally just making sure my chapter stayed afloat. It’s so funny how we always underestimate and rationalize complicated situations to ourselves. Anyway, when I was elected president I had a concussion, I was engulfed in final projects and exams, dealing with personal relationship issues, and I was preparing for a study abroad program in London. I quickly came to the realization that while I was dealing with all of this, everyone else in my chapter was going through something too. 

I’m a triple Scorpio (yikes, I know) so my leadership style quickly became helping everyone deal with their personal problems in anyway that I could in order to not only help them, but also make them love our chapter as much as I did. Ever since joining, APO was a place for me to totally be myself and be accepted for it, and I wanted everyone to feel that way. I just knew that if I couldn’t help someone with their problems, then there was someone in our chapter who could. However, I was still dealing with almost 100 college aged students, so naturally there was drama and problems that couldn’t be fixed. Sometimes because people didn’t want help, and sometimes because the world isn’t always fair and people make malicious decisions on purpose.

Literally the most important thing I learned in college was through my time as president of APO. I realized that not all problems are mine to solve and not all problems can be solved. This isn’t radical, obviously. I’ve just always been the kind of person that sees a problem, fixes said problem, finds next problem, fixes it, on repeat. It was exhausting.

Learning this definitely has made me more chill (I hope my friends would agree). In grad school if I can’t finish a reading for class I remind myself that I’ve read the other two and I’ve finished the assignment. I’m no longer so hard on myself when I try my best. 

Also while serving as President I had to lead weekly meetings, communicate with the chapter and our advisors, and just generally be the face of the organization on campus. For an introvert, this was exhausting. But I’m forever grateful for these experiences! Since serving as President I’m more confident in asking group members to accomplish tasks on time, talking in class, and scheduling meetings. Practicing these life skills in a low stakes environment like APO easily made my transition into grad school much easier. 

Right before graduation I wrote a post on my Instagram about how much APO pushed me to my absolute limits and I hoped that instead of remembering all of the negatives that come with being apart of any organization that in five years I could remember only the good memories with my friends. It hasn’t been a full year since graduating Truman and leaving APO, and I’m already thankful for my experiences and all of the drama and nonsense is fading.