Picture 11self portrait 5 "One day during a printmaking class my professor came to do his rounds. His style of teaching was allowing us to work on our own, and he went from student to student to see where we were at in our process. I was having a really challenging time in my personal life and started to cry when he asked me how my etching was going. (Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if I actually cried, but I know I shared with him my crazed emotional state.) What I said is a bit blurry, as it was over 20 years ago, but I'm sure it was infused with a lot of drama. He responded in such a sweet calm, but stable voice, 'Take all of that emotion that you are feeling and put it into your work.'

It was like all of the walls came crashing down in that moment and I finally felt free - free to express myself fully in my artwork, free to put it all out there onto the paper in all of its messy goodness. It was the permission I had been needing my whole life to let my feelings out there and to stop stuffing the scary ones deeper down into the festering well.

I can still smell the inks, the textured table from all of the wiped plates, hear the music someone was playing in their print shop studio, see the light filtering into the room from the windows high up.

After that experience I went totally 'Frida Kahlo' with my assignments in both my illustration and fine art classes. Years later, and after some therapy (mostly art therapy), I still recall that moment as the birth of the real artist within, an unleashing of sorts... and am ever so grateful to him for being the catalyst for that. Thank you Jim Lee, you are forever one of my heroes."

Jennifer Mazzucco is a devotional painter deeply inspired by Indian and Tibetan art. After teaching middle school art at a private school in Connecticut for 9 years, she took a leap of faith to open a collaborative arts and healing space on the west coast called PRASADA. Check out her beautiful artwork and books at JenniferMazzucco.com.

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