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The life of an artist is not always the easiest. It can be particularly tough trying to make a living from one’s own artwork in the small towns of the Midwest where artforms are more often considered as mere hobbies to partake in with any free time left after a “real” job. Through adolescent years those that discover a gift to create are praised and supported by family and friends, yet as graduation approaches, those same praises often fade to denunciations and questioning. Hearing such things as, “How can you possibly survive without a real occupation? Now is the time to grow up.” Some are not affected by these comments and know their path in life. Early in their journey they learn to navigate through the many struggles most artists face and continue forward: dedicated to surviving one way or another while creating what comes from their own inspirations.    Many more artists, even those with a solid foundation of support, find themselves stumbling onto or drifting through a maze of paths not truly meant for their feet. Leah Merrix was one of those people: naturally gifted and surrounded by a family of artists with nothing but love and support to give for any path she chose.   ​ Raised in a close and supportive family in the obscure little town of Peru, Indiana. The gift of being able to create has seamlessly flowed through the family tree and passed onto Leah. Her younger brother, Ian, and older brother, Chris, who were then and remain to this day her two best friends, also received that same gift. Growing up, her family, home, and life were structured but never imposed. She and her siblings were not only free to explore but encouraged by her parents to find those special things in life that made them happy.    Leah’s father, Daryl, a jack of all trades, made a living as an architect and contractor and was routinely busy. Leah, a bit of a tomboy at heart and comfortable with a little dirt under her nails, would often accompany her father on a jobsite when she was not getting into mischief with her brothers. Whether it was drywalling, plumbing, running electric, or building a porch, Leah enjoyed this time with her father and appreciated the details, care, and expertise that her father put into each of these skills and in every job.    Leah’s mother, Betty, worked for American Stationery and would often bring home giant rolls of paper along with cards and invitations which had to be discarded due to imperfections. This was one of her earliest memories of finding a love to create. This experience would later become a pivotal moment which eventually directed her toward Alien Dove.      ​ As much as she loved getting dirty, playing outdoors. and spending time with her brothers, she also needed her own time. A preteen Leah would take solace in her bedroom. Like many young girls, this was her sanctuary and she enjoyed getting lost there: sometimes daydreaming as she stared out her window with little to see but her neighbor’s house which she would often practice drawing. Drawing that same house would never conclude with a similar drawing as the one before. Whether she realized it at that time or not, staying in the box was never going to be a characteristic in her wheelhouse; what she sees will always be driven more by influence and emotion than her visual perception.

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