We asked some of the most inspiring folks we know to tell us what they are inspired by.

Annie Hejny | Visual Artist and Certified Forest Therapy Guide

I am a voice for the natural world. As a visual artist and certified Forest Therapy Guide, my lifelong connection with the earth has developed into a visual language through abstract paintings and drawings. My emergence as an artist was through telling the story of Minnesota waters. I created abstract, textured acrylic paintings with gathered water and sediment from local rivers and lakes. The physicality of collecting such materials is a critical part of how I embody and translate what nature is telling me. That body of work set me on a course to channel the voice of the earth, something my community needs more and more amidst the rise of the climate crisis. After a major artist shift towards the theme of trees and bark, I am now using new materials such as oil paints, charcoal and chalk pastels, I express a sense of wildness and urgency in my mark-making and color palette. A wildness and urgency that we see spreading across the west coast, as it is devastated by fires. Read more>>

Gabe Ratliff | Creative Misfit

I am inspired by creating, curating amazing artists and sharing them with others, and by inspiring other artists to keep creating. Many of us feel that we are not enough. I know have to be reminded that I am enough each and every day. My goal is to create and express myself freely and to help others to do the same. Life is short. Life is fragile. We only have so much time to find our voice and share it with others and we all deserve to be that voice that we’ve been waiting for. Read more>>

Bethany Fleck Dillen | Professor of Psychological Sciences

I am inspired by children. My own children are pretty awesome, but I don’t mean them. I am thinking about children in general and the way they learn. Have you ever watched a child experience something new? I took my niece to the beach one time and she literally ran around in a circle yelling “beach! beach! beach!” She had a typical 4-year-old pronunciation problem so you can imagine what it sounded like to everyone else. The point is that her excitement was uncontainable. She was excited to experience something that others take for granted every single day. I might respond the same way now, having lived landlocked in Colorado during a Pandemic, however at the time I was taken back by her emotion. Children don’t just want to know, they need to know. Children approach life with the curiosity that I aspire to have. Sure they are messy and loud, but hey, I’ll take that any day if it means being a lover of learning. I wish we all held onto that joy. Read more>>