“In honor of Kipp Crutchfield, my mother, a woman who chose to claim her potential, returning to school at 38, completing a bachelor’s and master’s, while raising her children and tending to elderly family. She showed the gift of creating the extraordinary from the ordinary, inspiring me to carve my own dreams from life.” – Kristi Crutchfield Cox, MEd, MS, LPC
Dear Creative Woman,
In 2015, collaborating on my vision for The Handprints Project, my mother picked up her paintbrush again, claiming her artistic self. That dream led to the desert, many beautiful souls, and a passion for helping one another claim ourselves. The original project has traveled multiple times to the desert and to south central Texas, evolving and reshaping itself from the original desert walls art of Ghost Ranch into an ongoing journey of new terrains.
From me to you,
About this Gift of Fellowship
In honor of taking risks, the joy of art, and exploring the creative self, this gift includes one hour of consultation of claiming self, goal identification, and reducing the chaos of journey we create in our minds while trying to navigate through obstacles both real and created. Additionally, the recipient will receive a generous art basket with oil and watercolor paint sets, craft colored pencils, canvases, and books about transformation of self, November Butterfly and Arachnid Verve, both by AROHO women, whose work Kristi deeply connected with.
An Intimate Interview with Kristi Crutchfield-Cox and Her Origin Story
Do You Have a Room of Your Own?
My room changes with my need. Sometimes it is the counter in my kitchen, while I am making dinner or working on things in between. Sometimes, it is in the back of my truck, under a tree, because it is quiet and removed from people. I have a hall closet where the pieces of my present novel have resided, bookshelves line it. My dining room table has been the location of the finishing of my first novel, currently in edits and being prepped for submission. My definition of a room of my own has changed quite a bit. When I was desperately disconnected from my creative self, I wanted to run, to find space. I got a passport that year, traveling out of the country for one conference, San Miguel Writer’s Conference. I gave myself permission to choose two things to attend a year, without apology for taking the time, money and effort to go. I work as a clinical therapist and have worked to have my clients more comfortable with the period of time I need for pursuing my writing rooms-the travel-oriented rooms I sometimes need.
My room today changes with my need. I don’t travel as much now as I did that first year and a half, mainly because I don’t need it mentally and emotionally as I did then. I can connect with my community online and in phone calls, but had I never taken the chance I never would have met them. I am beginning to prepare for a new traveling year because it fits the needs of the room I want to enter in the coming year, the room of being published. I share my room as it is an energy and mindset for me to share spaces with others. Recently, one sister I met through AROHO, Tonya Ko Hong, invited me to participate as a visual artist with her collective work, “Comfort Women,” which was published on Women Voices Now.
“Cimmerian Sister” by Kristi Crutchfield-Cox in collaboration with “Comfort Women” by Tanya Ko Hong.
What is your Origin Story and Can You Tell Us More About Your Gift?
In 2014, that May, I somehow came across a picture of Maxine Hong Kingston, staring out across an unseen landscape. I did not know who she was, I only knew I wanted to feel what I saw reflected in her gaze. I had spent my adult life doing what I had to do, needed to do, or was responsible for, there was not much room for what I wanted to do. I had limited mental space to be creative. I had attended one writer’s conference in 2007 and taken a creative writing class at our local college. Beyond that, I created my writing world by writing for free for our local paper and later, for free again, for a larger community paper. I experienced myself as a writer through piles of notebooks filled and stacked. I had published nothing formally. As I read the announcement for a competitive writing entry for the retreat of A Room Of Her Own, I wanted to be there, among those writers. I loved the variety of scholarships they offered and while reading each of them, I could clearly see the effort of offering gifts from one to another, the gift of access and opportunity. I did not think I had the background in publishing to be considered a candidate, so I read through the call for presenters and decided to put together a proposal for all the women and women-identifying to engage with. I never expected them to choose me, I just wanted to up the odds I might be taken seriously when they opened the call for writers. I locked myself up in my house a week before it was due, read The Woman Warrior and Othello, and created a visual art and meditation project based on the journey of self and handprints claiming self. It is important to note, I am not artistic, but I took a chance and created a forty-foot canvas project.
It was a few months later I received the email that they had accepted my proposal. I almost passed out and arriving on day one, all I kept thinking was, “Please don’t fall on your face, please don’t fail, this is a big stage to fail on.” By that time, I had learned a lot more about what A Room Of Her Own, meant. Growing up outside any literary world beyond the library and bookstores, I had no idea of the world of retreats and conferences. I did not have an MFA. What I can tell you now is that my week with A Room Of Her Own brought me into classes with an author whose book my mother handed me years ago saying, “You would like this book, she writes wordy.” I walked under stars with an agent and my roommate, lost among the mesa top, all three of us just women wandering through the dark together. I shared wine with new friends who wrote plays and novels, both the experienced and the very new. I sat with MFA’s and witnessed a woman getting a call from her publisher about her novel being adapted to a movie. I met indigenous writers and photographer’s creating powerful depictions of lives and social constructs, of stories and poetry told in various languages. We shared our fears and hopes.
I also learned that experiences are not always mutually shared and to learn to be open when what we revere faces the need to evaluate itself. Following that week, I went on to share multiple adventures with the people I had met, traveling to support them, being invited to create an experience at other retreats and conferences. My fear of not being enough shifted, I began to validate my work and effort, to not question if I lived in the right place to reach a literary world.
I realized there are a million pathways to a writing goal.
I learned that the origin of one woman/woman identifying helping another could expand into a movement of hands reaching out to one another. Doors held open for one another. My gift represents the experience of welcoming my mother into the experience of A Room Of Her Own, in the weeks leading up to attending, my mother spent hours with me, her eyesight fading, helping me paint landscapes of desert mesas and canyons of Ghost Ranch. She had not painted in roughly twenty years. I watched her eyes twinkle and come alive as she reconnected with her own muse. I recognized the power of this gift, the gift of experiencing self, in all our creative forms and even our imperfections of efforts. So, I created a gift of sketchbooks, and acrylic paint, of oil paints and charcoals, of pastels and primaries, of writing notebooks and a stipend. I realized that while the internal creativity needs support, the financial needs of access also needs recognition; the hurdle of finding a room of one’s own at conferences and retreats is often financial. So, I added a $300 cash stipend to ease that burden. The gift is called the Kipp Crutchfield Gift of Fellowship in honor of my mother, who found rooms of her own in our backyard and stolen moments before life filled all the rooms up. Since that year, we have collaborated on community art projects expanding our concept of rooms.