Good Evening! My name is Chloe Cox. I would like to thank all of the people who have supported me and loved me throughout my very long journey. I am immensely grateful. ‘Thank you’ will never be enough.
It is my honor to speak to you today and to share with you some thoughts on what I see as important as we graduates begin our next adventure.
If there is one thing that I have found valuable and would like to share with you, it’s a phrase I discovered in kindergarten while watching the Magic School Bus. I can still picture Ms. Frizzle, wearing her amazing seashell patterned jumpsuit, cheering, “TAKE CHANCES. MAKE MISTAKES. GET MESSY.”
Seven years ago, I embarked on my college journey. In August of 2008, I bought a one-way plane ticket and moved to Seattle, Washington to attend the Art Institute there. With two giant suitcases, the address of the school, and a hatful of big dreams, I left my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, determined and excited…and terrified. I knew no one in Seattle, had little money saved, and absolutely no plan. Despite of all this, I took a chance.
I lasted one semester. (pause)
I was young, broke, and homesick. But somehow, this “failure” gave me courage. I survived! I realized that you can make a mistake and move on. I was ready for whatever was next.
And it was KU. Where one day, on a whim, I wandered into the Office of Study Abroad. Several student loans and a couple of hurdles later, I was on a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark to study Interior Design. My assigned host mom, Mette, welcomed me at the airport and drove me back to her beautiful Danish home in the small town of Holte.
That evening, Mette, her daughter Emma, and her son Carl invited me to follow them into the forest to pick wild mushrooms for our dinner. I was totally skeptical! Yet despite my fears of being poisoned, I said yes and followed them into the forest. Tall trees sprinkled with dew soon spread above me and around the many pools of water were the most vivid green plants I’d ever seen.
We were harvesting a patch of mushrooms and as we looked up we were greeted by a reindeer!! A Danish reindeer! It was as if I had stepped into an enchanted fairytale land. At that moment, I knew that every obstacle that I had overcome to get there had been worth it. (As a side note, I went back to this very forest last summer and this time I was greeted by A MINI HORSE aimlessly wandering through the Danish forest. A MINI HORSE! Magic does, in fact, exist.) …and I survived the mushrooms.
My decision to study in Denmark was life changing. Not only did it prove that magic exists, but I also experienced a new and beautiful culture. I was greatly rewarded for my having taken a chance and rolling the dice.
Upon my return from Denmark, I enrolled in the Fine Arts School here at KU. I took a textile’s course and immediately felt at home in the program. I spent the next four years pursuing my BFA with a Textiles and Fibers concentration. And this spring I was given the opportunity to have a solo show in the gallery at the Kansas Union. I knew I had two options for the show; I could either play it safe or take a risk. I decided to go big.
My work explores the idea of home as a collection of our experiences, as well as a space where we can be the most authentic version of ourselves. So I chose to build an installation that mimicked a living space. I challenged myself to have my hand in every single aspect, from the wallpaper to the chair cushions to the cacti and their pots.
Never before had I attempted to do something on such a large scale. But I did it…and again I learned that rewards come from taking risks. In fact, if ya ask me, that’s what makes life worth living. If we refuse to take risks, we are not growing, not evolving, not living.
Coincidentally, when asked to make this very speech, I was faced with yet another decision on whether or not to take a chance and push myself to do something that scared the hell out of me. So tonight I’m practicing what I’m preachin’.
If I can leave you with one thought today it is this: as you move onto the next phase in life, keep Ms. Frizzle’s words in mind. “TAKE CHANCES. MAKE MISTAKES. GET MESSY.” You only live once. And there’s no right way to do it. Whatever you are dreaming up, GOOOO DO IT! And if you need a companion, invite me! I’m always and forever up for another adventure! Congratulations and thank you!