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Linda Clayton

In April of 2016, I was devastated by the news that Prince had died. I sat at my kitchen counter, updating my website, listening to MPR, the details searing my ears, going straight through my heart. The words rolled over and over in my head... "Prince has died."

I couldn't stop the tears. I thought I was insane. I mean, I had never even met him. But nonetheless, he was – and is - a huge part of my life.

FREE URSELF, Oil on Canvas, 2016. Prince Series

Prince was there, in my teenage, angst-ridden years when I was trying to figure out who I was, while society - and the small town I was growing up in - was adamantly telling me who they thought I should be. I found solace in Prince and his music. I loved that he was who he wanted to be, and not what the record labels told him he should be.

I was a young, preteen girl, dreaming of leaving my small rural town and somehow finding my way to Minneapolis to meet him. Of course, in my adolescent dream, Prince and I would see each other, there would be an instant connection, and we would fall deeply and madly in love.

I didn't find my way to Minneapolis until I was much older and a lot more grounded in reality. I secretly never gave up on my hope of a chance encounter, to at least see the legend, the man that had unknowingly helped shape my life, until April 21, 2016.

Maybe that's why the tears ran unstoppable for days. I lost a tiny piece of hope the day he died: the hope of our chance meeting was gone. As I have grown, I have come to believe that when something changes, life is asking for you to replace/add/cultivate/create something to fill that place. This last year has been spent paying tribute to a man who followed his own path, and in doing so, led by example.

To quote the legendary Carrie Fisher, "I have taken my broken heart, and turned it into art."

This series is how I see Prince's music, what it means to me, and how it makes me feel. I found hope, and I want to pass it on to you. I hope you enjoy this series, and I hope you see that he, and everyone that has come before us, live on in how we have connected with others in this journey.

Linda painting the huge Prince Minneapolis scene that hangs outside her Northrup King studio #390 in Minneapolis

Linda is a full time artist based in Minneapolis MN. Since childhood she has delved into the creative life. She received an Associates Degree in Advertising from St. Cloud State, and pursued a career creating graphics for the corporate world. She longed for the freedom to create what was in her heart and imagination and finally left the corporate world in 2012 to pursue her dream.

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