Personal Stories

Allison Lee Merriweather

By: Allison Lee Merriweather
Painting: 'Bohemian Princess'

Bohemian Princess
Acrylic and Oil on Paper 9" x 12"
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Allison Lee Marriweather's Studio

From my earliest years I loved drawing and creating. I thought of myself as an artist when I first thought to label myself. When I wasn't creating I was outdoors running wild, making up games with my sisters, exploring nature, and using the earth as my teacher.

School at the age of 5 ended my carefree imaginative existence. I knew by the 3rd day in kindergarten that I was somehow different. The first clue to trouble in school was my slowness in learning the alphabet. I remember my third grade teacher pulling my hair and making me stay in for recess because I kept confusing "b" and "d." I had no concept of math, spelling...even tying my shoes was a struggle.

My teachers found my writing to be indecipherable, I could not tell time on a numbered clock, and I couldn't read very well. Back then even trained teachers did not understand learning disabilities.

By the fourth grade I just gave up on academics. I would sit in the back of the class and draw stories to myself for hours. Art was my island, my refuge, and my escape.

I joined the California Conservation Corps at the age of 15 and spent the next few years building trails, fighting fires, and planting trees, grateful to be away from anything academic. I spent what meager wages I had on art supplies. On the weekend I would take the bus into San Francisco and sell my drawing on the street in the museum district. I often spent the entire day wandering around the city's art galleries and museums. I reveled in everything art and loved being surrounded by a world I could understand.

Ultimately I have come to see dyslexia as a gift, I believe that my 'different' way of seeing the world has enriched my art and given me rare insight as well as a deep sense of compassion for my fellow human. In the words of Paolo Coehlo, "When You Have The Courage To Pursue Your Dreams The Whole Universe Will Conspire To Help You."

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