For me, being an artist at Duke means being able to continue making art as a university student. Even though that sounds simple, in high school I took formal oil painting lessons outside of school. That means there was a built-in time in my day for me to create art. However, when I first came to Duke I didn’t take an art class right away, and I found myself being swept up in my classes and being too busy to take time for myself and create. It wasn’t long before doodling on my notes in class wasn’t enough anymore and I realized that I needed to take time out of my day in order to express myself more fully on paper.
When choosing my classes for the next semester, I wanted to make sure that I could take an art class so that I would have structured time in the day to be able to draw. My academic advisor told me that if I wanted to continue taking art classes I might as well get a major or minor. At first I wasn’t sure that I would be able to fit in all the classes, but also mentally I decided that it was important enough to me that I wanted to go ahead and pursue a minor.
I'm glad I made that decision. I've really enjoyed all the art classes I’ve taken at Duke because they’ve allowed me to grow as an artist. I’ve learned so much not only about technique but also different ways of expression from looking at the work of my peers. When I first came to Duke I was unaware of the art community, thinking that because Duke wasn’t well known for its art program that there wouldn’t be many people or resources dedicated to visual arts. I’m so glad that through taking classes I realized that I was wrong. I even got to see the opening of the new Rubenstein Arts Center building. I’m happy to say that the arts at Duke are growing, and I’m happy to have been a part of that growth during my four years, especially since making art alongside other people is an important part of the creative process. It allows us to learn from one another, and share in our collective experiences. Even though moving forward I likely won’t be taking formal art classes anymore, having taken my own initiative to keep up with my artwork in college has shown me that no matter where I am or what I’m doing I will always be an artist. I will always be able to pick up a piece of paper and pencil and be able to give life to the images in my mind. I will always be able to learn new things from other artists and incorporate them into my own expressions.
Even though next year I might not be “an artist at Duke” anymore, I am creator for having been a part of this wonderful community and will continue to carry these experiences with me as I continue to grow as an artist and person.