Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Biqi Zhang - Thoughts on Art
It has truly been a very long semester, but it has also been extremely rewarding. Never had I received formal training in art, though I had always enjoyed scribbling on the corners of my papers and sitting down with a few friends, sketching roses and eggs (that's what a Chinese fable said to do in order to perfect art skills). I gained confidence in my abilities this semester - I'm not sure if I've improved in making art, but being assigned to draw on huge pieces of bristol board now is comfortable. It used to be daunting, and the thought of drawing something as large as KVille was a lot of pressure - how could I ever capture what KVille means to Duke, to all of us? I discovered that as long as I started assignments early enough and put enough time into a piece, it could turn our pretty decently. And that's the other thing about art - it is above all a discipline. It takes dedication and commitment, and it takes diligence. Completing a piece is not like working out a problem set in math - in math, there's an answer and an end. Art - you never really know when you're done. There always seems more to do and a finishing touch to add, and that makes the entire process of drawing a discipline. It takes perseverance and bravery to make the first few marks on a giant, blank canvas. It takes dedication and diligence to slowly work through the sketch, shading and value, more sketching, erasing, more shading and value, finishing touches, resisting doubt (am I done yet? But there's something missing, and I can't figure out what...) Finally, it takes a certain amount of willpower to stop, and force yourself to step back and analyze your own work, realize that you've completed what you could for now, and not beat yourself up about "the missing element."
And that is exactly what I've gone through each time I started one of our final three creative pieces. I'm not sure if I've learned how to draw better, but I do know that I've gained life experience. I've also gained a new pair of eyes; I look at things differently now. Everytime I pass Cameron, I look at those bricks with both hatred and affection; I look at the blue window pains fondly, remembering just how long and carefully I had to shade them. And I have yet to climb to the top of the Chapel again, but I feel that once I do climb up there, I'll not only see Duke's buildings and the bustop, but I'll see Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, and whatever I want to see. For me, that's art - possibility.