I don't remember how young I was when I realized that I enjoyed art. I'm not even sure there was a specific moment of realization; art is something that I have always known. I have always felt closest to God when I have a paintbrush in my hand.
I grew up in the upstate of South Carolina and attended Clemson University. I studied Marketing and Fine Art, but was never sure of a career path. I had a professor tell me to "create your own career where you market your art", so that is exactly what I did.
In the latter part of 2017, I was just getting started in my art career and I met a wonderful guy named Taylor. On a rainy night in late November 2017, Taylor and I were on the way to a concert in Atlanta, when Taylor's car hit the side of a transfer truck. Taylor was ejected from the truck and died on the scene. I was pinned in the truck and suffered a traumatic brain injury and a broken neck. I could not walk, talk, or see for months after the accident. The left side of my body did not respond the way that it once did. The doctors were unsure of how much or how little I would recover. I doubted that I would ever pick up a paintbrush again.
I spent 12 weeks at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where I received intensive therapy in all areas. I was released from therapy in May 2018 and was cleared to resume normal independent activity. For the most part, I was healed. In June 2018, I made a brave decision to move to Charleston, South Carolina by myself. My mom was a little upset with me, but I knew I needed to regain my independence.
I continued to heal and picked back up the paintbrush. Painting was emotionally challenging, mentally challenging, and physically challenging, but I refused to give up art. It had once been something that I enjoyed and was decent at. After the accident, it became my outlet.
In July 2018, I got a puppy. I have always loved dogs, but I never understood "dog people" until I had one of my very own. Willow is a golden doodle (I am super allergic to doggies and she is hypoallergenic!) and is my best friend and therapist- all in one!
In March 2019, I met Bobby Ruff. After our first date, it was over for the both of us. Two weeks later, I told him that I loved him. In March 2020, the best person I've ever known proposed to me, and we got married on June 5, 2021. We made the move from Charleston back to the upstate and we bought a house! We also added another furry friend to our clan- a pup named Bunny.
So, that's my story. A lot of it doesn't have much to do with art, but I see art of The Creator's hand in all of it. I thank art for teaching me to see beauty in the broken and for pushing me towards resiliency. I still struggle with aches and pains from the accident, but I get physically stronger every day. I thank God that I get to live this life, and in all seasons, I will always have a paintbrush in my hand.
Emily Grace Ruff