Friday, April 26, 2019

Being an Artist at Duke University

Being an artist at Duke is not easy. Everyone is talented in their unique way and there are so many people; also at times it feels like most of society does not care about Art. Thus, it is difficult to make people care about what you do, when there is not always an interest in the first place.

What is something that most of us posses? For most, it is language and the ability to speak. Daniel Webster once said “If all my possessions were taken from me, with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication — for with it, I would regain all the rest.”

I also argue that most of us posses some art work as well. Whether it is the building(s) you inhabit, clothing, a painting, picture, furniture,  all of these objects or places created can be seen through a lens in which they are a bi-product of someone's aesthetic or artistic approach. But then am I claiming that Art is not a product but an aesthetic? Maybe?

Manifesto: A public declaration, often political in nature, of a group or individual’s principles, beliefs, and intended courses of action.

Am I placing an emphasis on the aesthetic experience or the emotions evoked?
Is there something specific to the work’s aesthetics and politics, creativity and criticism, visual vocabulary and emotive universe?
1. Don’t make Art in a vacuum or in a room with no windows.
2. Don’t kill your ideas before you test them
3. Don’t get distracted. Curiosity did not kill the cat, hesitation did.
4. It is OK to recycle or just reinvent

An Artist’s statement:
Hannah Faye Waleh is an Iranian-American filmmaker and visual artist who is interested in how language works and when language fails. Compelled to experiment with video, text and illustration, her work coalesces oral and visual language.
Her work is the culmination of her research interests and the development of her artistic practice here at Duke.
The process of making film is what I can only describe as an activity, a daily habit.
Genres are defined as categories of artistic practices having particular forms, contents, or techniques. Albeit, they are useful when browsing Netflix, in my opinion I find that genres are constrictive. Film, the medium, inherently crosses genres, and blurs the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. “In all the arts, there are those moments that are as though somebody has made the gesture of raising a palm, which is not a stop sign, but a — 'Attend, hush, listen.” I think those are the moments we really live for in art, the moment where the artfulness falls away, and all that is left is that thing we don’t have a better word for beyond poetry.” - Teju Cole

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Being an artist at Duke

Varsity athlete. Engineering student, undergrad, masters, PhD. Volunteer. Cameron Crazie. Artist.

My identity at Duke has grown and changed throughout my eight years here, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. I’ve inhabited multiple social spheres--athletics, engineering, community service, student government. I’ve assumed multiple labels. But a constant has always been my passion for art.

Art making for me has always been an escape. A right-brained reprieve from my quant-heavy studies. A way to relax my mind after a long week. At times even a nice ego boost or method --when I can sit down and make a drawing simply for the “look what I just made” reminder for self-assurance.

However, it has always been a passion I’ve held at arm’s length, rather than truly embraced. I generally view art as a side passion rather than a vocation or career. I do allow creativity to influence other aspects of my work, like coming up with unorthodox research ideas or experimenting with 3D printing technology. But pure art has always inhabited a rather constrained portion of my attention and time. Just  a recreational drug or a guilty pleasure for when I’m tired at staring at equations or code.

Throughout this semester I’ve told my engineering colleagues the only class I’m taking is an art class. This usually elicits laughs and jests.  As if any artistic endeavor was a trivial, childish, cute waste of time for an engineering PhD student. Or that it’s a side gimmick for a student-athlete. And the idea that creative pursuits are unnecessary for STEM students is definitely prevalent. It has definitely influenced, or dampened, my participation in the arts community at Duke.

I’ve so enjoyed taking this drawing class because even though the students come from a such wide variety of backgrounds--whether they’re premed, CS, or pure art--everyone is taking time out of their busy schedules to draw, make art, and be creative. It makes me feel that my own time spent creating art is more reasonable and more valuable. And this structured time to make art has only made me more creative in my research work. When we take a little time to draw, who knows what other ideas we can stir up!

Monday, April 22, 2019

to be an artist at duke


To be an artist at duke is to be independent. It means seeking out things you’re interested in by yourself and taking the time and effort to reach out to the right people and forging your own path with little guidance.

I sometimes think it is hard to be an artist at duke. While the resources are abound and spaces like the arts annex and ruby exist, i think we should publicize more the experimental works of students who are pushing boundaries. This was hard to find before the Ruby, but over the past year i’ve seen more showcases of experimental work from students and I very much appreciated the opportunity to do so. from installations like the ocean room to exhibits like the invisible organ to reception parties of student published zines like recipes of resilience, having the accessible space of the ruby has promoted art installations to grow beyond 2D pieces and has opened my eyes to ways of expression and creation in new ways. 

Making art at Duke

I find that this class has significantly helped me to feel more comfortable making art at Duke.  I really enjoyed Drawing in high school.  The people in the classes I took formed a very tight community and we really enjoyed making art together and watching each other grow as artists.  Before I took this class, I did not think I would pursue art at Duke.  When I was younger, I thought I would be an artist as an adult, but as I grew older my priorities changed.  Now, making art, and especially drawing, is more of a form of relaxation.
I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and I've found that making art, and focusing on the minute details of a piece really helps me focus in other areas of my life.  In my first semester at Duke, I did not draw as much.  After taking this course and drawing more in general, I realized how much drawing still helps me focus and the impact it has on my life and ability to concentrate.  Thus, while I may not pursue an art degree or career, it still is an important part of my Duke experience and my everyday life.
Sine I am an athlete, I have not yet found a community of artists that I truly bonded with.  However, taking this course and after feeling inspired by my classmate's art, I hope that I will find and seek out a community of art enthusiasts in the future

Art at Duke

My initial experience with Duke University came before I ever arrived on campus. It all began when people would ask me, “what college will you be attending upon graduation,” in which I would reply, “Duke”. At first, they would be shocked, gasp out a “congratulations”, and ask me the follow up question:
    “What will you major in?”
The question always left me shocked. What was I going to major in? I knew that I had time before I had to actually declare my major, but their impulsive question made me stress. I thought: What should a Duke University student major in? Something science for sure and being that I was, at the time, fascinated by physics, I replied just that. Physics.
    Duke University has this bubble around itself that relays the same information. Duke is a math and science school. The closest Duke gets to “the arts”, upon first glance, is the fact that the school itself holds a certain and famous beauty in its architectural style and aesthetically pleasing designs. Other than that, its visually appealing campus is only a facade for the students that fill its halls.
    At O-Week, not one singular freshman had told me that they were here to pursue a major in art (or any artistic major in any sort). I simply got the usual: economics, statistics, environmental science, and pre-med (pre-med! pre-med!!!). Granted, many of the freshmen never had the chance to “explore their options” and “branch out” in “different” classes yet, but how will they branch out when they come in with a set mind? So many of my friends dread thinking about how they are going to fill out their ALP requirements before graduating. Many of them had told me “Angie, do not wait too long to fill out your ALP’s. Those classes will bite you in the a** later”. In which they were shocked to hear my answer that I had already completed my ALP’s and continue to take more.
    For many students, the ALP classes are the closest they will ever get to even get to experience the multitude of art classes that Duke has to offer. I feel that not many people take pride in the multiple art events that Duke has to offer. People still are shocked when I tell them my list of classes and they hear “Drawing” listed. As if, they were not too sure that there were many (if any) art classes (like drawing or painting) offered at Duke, simply because Duke is known to be the math and science school and not the art school. My experience at Duke will always include some form of art in it. I continually try to get my friends to join me even though they claim, “I could never, I am not good at art”. Many people are told to not pursue something you are bad at because if you fail that is bad. The math and science community here at Duke is vigorous and builds up a wall that hurts when you crumble. The art community at Duke never builds that wall in the first place, and welcomes all with arms wide open.

Art at Duke

Duke University is known for two things: our men's basketball team, and our status as a top-10 university. The students are known to work hard but also party hard, and most undergraduates are on a pre-professional track. Its reputation for the arts is not one that many people talk about when applying for college. But a visit to www.duke.edu and lo and behold, "ARTS" is prominently displayed at the top of the page.

Arts is one of the six sections Duke lists at the top of their website.
It appears to be something that Duke as a university tries to emphasize in their public image, but for many students, it's possible to spend their entire school life without any interaction with the arts, aside from brunch at Nasher Cafe. The top 5 undergraduate majors are Computer Science, Economics, Public Policy, Biology, and Psychology, all some form of science. In this regard, it doesn't look like many students choose to study the arts. However, that doesn't mean that art does not exist at Duke at all.

In my experience, the arts at Duke are pursued as hobbies or side passions alongside academics, often a continuation of what students did before they entered college (though not all keep up with it). Some join dance groups, orchestras, or visit the Arts Annex to draw and paint. For artists in the traditional sense (i.e. drawing, painting, or sculpture), I get the sense that they are exist in isolation rather than in groups - there isn't a "community" in a sense that all the artists at Duke know all of each other.

However, the resources to pursue art are everywhere - one just needs to look for it. Duke provides plenty of resources to pursue art in many medium, the artist just needs to take initiative.

Being an Artist at Duke (and in life)


Ever since I was a toddler, I have been an artist. In sixth grade,
I created my first portrait (of Taylor Swift), which sparked
my passion for portraiture and other drawings. Every time I
finished a new drawing, I brought it in for my classmates to
see. There was something so exciting and gratifying about
the way their faces lit up after seeing my work.

Since then, art has been a central part of my identity. At some
moments, it becomes a priority, something at the forefront of
my mind; at others, it acts as more of a hobby. I attended a
very academic private high school, where my main focuses
were good grades and STEM-related activities. But every
Saturday, I found solace at my 3-hour art classes, where I could
express this essential side of myself.

People have always been surprised to find that my two main
interests are math/computer science and art/music. When I
explain how much I enjoy both sides of myself, most people
say that they haven’t met many people so drawn to both
quantitative studies and art. But I have always loved using
both right and left sides of my brain. Honestly, I think that
my interest in math has helped my art, and vice-versa. Years
of drawing and painting classes have given me patience and
attention to detail, which I apply to problem solving in more
quantitative areas of my life.

Coming into Duke this year, I promised that I wouldn’t let
myself lose my love for the arts. Through playing violin in
the orchestra and taking Intermediate Drawing, I have kept
this promise. I’ve also made an effort to experience art forms
outside my comfort zone, like Hoof ‘n Horn musicals and
dance performances. Going to these performances makes me
so happy; it’s amazing to see how incredibly talented Duke
students are. I always encourage my friends to go to these
performances because I do think art is an important part of
the Duke experience. Dance showcases like Street Medicine
and DefMo are always packed for a reason: Duke students are
just so talented and it’s important to celebrate and appreciate
that.

The community of artists at Duke is, at first glance, almost
hidden. But through closer inspection, I’ve found that there
are artists everywhere. When I talk about my love for music
and art, I almost always find people who share these interests
in some way. Not everyone chooses to participate in the arts,
but most at least watch. And from watching, even just one
orchestra concert or dance performance or visual art
exhibition, students can become involved in the arts.