Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Juniper Kozlowski

44: Juniper Kozlowski

Create a graphic novel about redemption and dog rescue

I have been drawing and taking photographs in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont for as long as I can remember. The beauty of the natural world provides an endless variety of beautiful subjects, from ferns, lichens, grasses and the tiny worlds of moss, caddisfly larvae, and carnivorous plants, to scenic hayfields, run down barns, abandoned trucks and crooked houses, to the depths of vernal pools and wetland plants. I started taking photographs primarily to use as sources for drawing, but I can’t keep up with all the drawings I want to do! My pet portraits in pastel have been very popular, and I also love figure drawing in charcoal and drawing my rescued dogs.

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the Union Institute & University in 2007, and my Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology with a focus on Wetland Ecology, from Antioch University in 2019.

Project description

My project will be a memoir in graphic novel form. It will be a story of love, rescue, redemption, the bond between humans and dogs, inter species communication, and how we can drastically change each others lives for the better.
It will be the story of how one woman went from being homeless, unhealthy, and making a lot of bad choices in life, to becoming strong and healthy, quitting drugs and alcohol, becoming an athlete, obtaining a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s degree, and writing a book, all with the help of a rescued pit bull terrier who had numerous behavioral problems of her own when she was adopted.

The story will include all of the challenges the two of them faced and overcame in their 15 years together, including living in a car, and at times a tent, while trying to hold a job and living in a car and trying to complete a college degree. All this while also attempting to manage the rescue dog’s numerous initial behavioral challenges including severe separation anxiety that made her eat the furniture at a housesitting job, as well as her reactivity with almost every dog she ever met. Most of these behavioral challenges were completely overcome, as were the dog owner’s behavioral and economic challenges.

The resulting work will be a graphic novel, written and illustrated by me. I plan for it to be in black and white, drawn in charcoal and graphite, but I may include a couple of color panels for chapter headings or for other special scenes.

I hope to have it printed in Vermont by a local printer and not by Amazon although if an actual publishing house is interested I would be open to that as well. I would love to have a gallery show with sketches and panels from the finished work.

I believe this graphic novel most definitely communicates a unique perspective, and I hope that it inspires other people who may be going through, or have gone through, hard times, to realize that it is possible to change your life.

Media Sample 1

Stormy Pinnacle. “This is an example of a very polished drawing.”

Media Sample 2

Volvo_home_2. “This is an example of one of the panels to be included in the finished book. We lived in an old Volvo wagon while I started and completed my degree.”

Media Sample 3

Flophouse. “One of the many places we lived while trying to turn our lives around.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 23, 2023