After graduating from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon with a degree in the history of Late Antiquity in 1990, I became a watercolor and oil painter, and lived in New Orleans and Wyoming. In 1995 I won a Fulbright Fellowship and studied fresco in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In 1997 I earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Painting at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. As a muralist I completed seven major public fresco projects including on the 91st Floor of World Trade Center One in 2000. In 2005 I returned to graduate school at Yale University where I earned my doctorate in American History in 2012, specializing in Early America, Western American History, Indigenous Histories, and Environmental History.