Growing up as a child, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of exposure to arts. My family background is deeply rooted in visual arts; our family owns an art gallery in Korea, my mom graduated college with an art history degree, and my sister works at the National Museum of Korea. Because I grew up in an environment where I was surrounded by a number of art collectors and artists, I used to spend most of my time drawing with crayons in a sketchbook, all of which my parents kept. Looking at my daily drawing journals from kindergarten still helps me remember little details that I would have otherwise forgotten. So, I personally understand what a powerful tool drawing can be, whether one is good at it or not.
As I grew older, I sadly began to face the reality that I may not have the talent it takes to be a professional artist. Instead, I turned to other things – school, sports, music, etc. – and I thought that would be the end to my exploration in arts, until I got to Duke. Frankly, I’m glad that all the classes I had planned on taking were full and I was given no choice but to go through every single course on ACES, the night before registration. Drawing class happened to fit my schedule perfectly, and even until the first few weeks into the semester, this class meant nothing more than an academic requirement that I should get a decent grade on. First, the freedom of choice I was given was rather uncomfortable; I had become too used to being given rigid instructions – those “Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1-inch margins, double-spaced” – that I didn’t know what to do when Professor Fick told us to choose any five objects. In the beginning, I literally chose any objects that were lying around my room. Later on, I took his advice to “tell a story” and began to look for a certain theme. Weekly assignments became more than what I got graded on. I constantly wanted to challenge myself; instead of drawing objects that I felt confident doing a good job on, I would pick an object that I struggled with. I began to start the assignments earlier than the night before it’s due. When I had the extra time on me, I could actually enjoy drawing and take pride in my work. Another delightful surprise was to see how much I improved over the semester. I had previously thought that artistic ability is something innate, and practice could never outrun talents.
Obviously, there are other students who are talented, much better than myself at drawing. I know that taking this course and getting an A does not mean I should take a different path and now become an artist. However, what this course made me realize is that I don’t have to be a naturally gifted artist to draw. Anyone can draw, and when we invest the right amount of time and effort into a piece, it can never go wrong.