Monday, November 30, 2015

In Pursuit of Art

When I was four, I realized I loved to draw. I doodled, I traced, I drew. And being a four year old, I had all the free time in the world to do exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to paint murals and tell stories with pictures. I wanted to be remembered like one of the giants – Picasso, da Vinci, O’Keeffe. But as I got older, art was slowly pushed away. In middle school, I was told that artists were poor and starving and to focus instead on something more practical. In high school, I was told to pursue a STEM career and to apply to an engineering school. I drew less and less, time spent previously now replaced by math homework and science projects. And when the time came, I committed to Duke’s engineering program.

Then, a month before I left for college, Duke asked me to type up a short paragraph on ‘future goals’ heading into college. I listed off the normal checklist: work in a lab, do research, get an internship, land a job in industry. And as I mulled over whether or not I had forgotten anything, it dawned on me that I had not drawn in years. So at the last minute, I slipped in a fifth goal: to rediscover art.

But as quickly as I had stepped foot on campus, I became inundated with work. Problem sets, tests, projects, papers. When one assignment finished, three more were waiting to be done. And just like that, art was once again neglected, pushed out of the collage of the more “important” things in life. One year passed. Two, and then three. By the end of junior year, I had checked off most of what I had hoped to do in college: I had majored in Mechanical Engineering, worked in a robotics lab, did independent research, interned in industry. But I had not rediscovered art.

And so senior year, I finally took this art class, many semesters overdue, to check off the final goal on my list and to make good on a promise to my four year old self that I would always keep art in my life.

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