Alumni Profile: Natalie Friedrich

posted on July 26, 2019 by
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We're so happy to introduce Natalie Akane Friedrich in our newest installment of Alumni Profiles! Natalie is a multi-talented artist, herbalist, and homesteader who lives in Ohio and runs her own small business, Gnat and Bee! Huge thanks to Natalie for her fabulous interview!

Year/years at YAC?

My name is Natalie Akane Friedrich. I attended YAC from 2006-2009.
When I first stepped into the building, I was in awe of such color, diversity of art in the gallery. I was new in town, a transplanted Sophomore in high school experiencing displacement and loneliness. The Youth Arts Collective environment, mentors and students were a safe space where I could express myself, make meaningful relationships and get lost in making art with so many materials and resources. YAC made life better!

Did you go to college? And if so, where?

I attended Monterey Peninsula College during and after high school. I focused on mixed media art classes and psychology. It was here that I fell in love with watercolor after instruction with Professor and Artist Bob Lamp.

Tell us about what you’re doing now.

Today, I live with my husband and our 2 girls in Ohio on a 5 acre homestead. We have a dreamy wild place with woods, chickens and big vegetable, flower and herb gardens. It's a perfect sanctuary for play, discovery, experimentation and learning. After moving here, I began my own self studies in herbalism, increased my plant knowledge and began crafting my own useful remedies. I use my watercolor and art skills to help study wild and cultivated medicinal species. I have sold my nature inspired prints, originals and custom paintings. I have had the joy and honor of teaching watercolor skills privately and in group settings.

Gnat and Bee is my small business, created about 2 years ago where I share my daily use herbal remedies, body care and artwork. My art is featured on some of my labeling, I like to add and change my line seasonally and to what inspires me. I enjoy teaching tea meditation classes using my hand blended loose leaf teas, and wish to teach and take more classes on herbalism. I love to collaborate with other artists and small business owners so we can promote, inspire and lift each other up. My other part time job is as a manager at a co-op market called Local Roots - it's like an indoor farmers market with over 200 local producers who bring in their produce, products and artwork that we sell on commission. My product line is featured at Local Roots, and I love discovering new producers to curate into the market.

What has inspired you along the way?

Along my path I have been inspired by nature and the changing seasons. As the wheel of the year turns, there are scents, colors, textures, flavors and emotions that come forth that ignite my curiosity and creative spirit. Older artists who live out their passions are such a pleasure to witness and learn from ~ we can create a fulfilled life when we follow our calling. Each of us knows that when we experience a creative block or do not allow time for our art, something is missing! When we're able to break out of the dry shell, its one the best feelings in the world! Seeing others create freely definitely helps me to break free from my own shell. My children also remind me to have fun, make a mess and not take life too seriously.

Favorite YAC memories?

My favorite YAC memories are captured in those crazy early morning hours of ART-A-THONS! 24 hour ebb and flow of laughter and tears, concentration and play, sketch and paint, stitch and stuff all surrounded by the best people. I am always so happy when I see these are still happening annually!

A mention about the value of YAC?

YAC is invaluable. Meg and Marcia are a couple of the most welcoming, warm, patient and encouraging people I have ever known. Their library of materials and resources feels unlimited. The way this setting supports the creative passions and interests of students is stimulating and restorative. The community in YAC's walls is a safe space to express ourselves and feel accepted for who we are. As a teenager, this meant the world to me. I am so grateful for my experience as a YACster. The Monterey Bay Peninsula is beyond lucky to have such a gem for young artists to find a home away from home.

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