Monday, December 2, 2019

Being an Artist at Duke-- Ali Rosenbaum

Whenever I tell people that I am an “artist,” they are surprised. Surprised because I am a sporty kid. Surprised because of my major in environmental science. Surprised because I am on the Pre-Med track. But anyone who really knows me, knows that I define myself as an artist. Loving or being good at art is always my go-to “fun fact” for icebreakers. Painting or sketching is my remedy for stress. At times, I can easily spend six hours on end getting lost in a single composition. I have always been talented when it came to detail. In elementary school I constantly won the crown of “artist of the month.” Growing up with this passion and flair gave me a unique, personal outlet. 

Although I am not a “formally” trained artist, I have taken art classes in school all my life, leading up to AP Portfolio art my senior year of high school. Having taken that class and creating such a large body of work in such a short amount of time really forced me to develop artistic skills with a wide variety of materials and learn to work efficiently. These are two skills which I found extremely applicable and necessary for my creation of art here at Duke.

As a freshman, adjusting to school while keeping up with coarse loads is certainly challenging enough in and of itself. But when you are a perfectionist, like myself, it can be hard to accept when you do not have every single one of your usual, comfortable art materials with you at all times. Or, that there is not, in fact, even enough space in my dorm to work on Bristol board. Making art for me here this year has not always been the easiest but I have grown to learn a lot from it. I have learned to amplify my adaptability and let the serenity drawing gives me be more powerful than any one assignment.

I always say that my number one value is balance. Whether it be a balance between my social life and school work, or a balance between spending time with friends versus family, balance is very important to me. Art fits into my life as the perfect weight on that balancing beam. It allows the load of my sometimes overwhelming STEM classes, like chemistry, to be counteracted with creativity and fun. You may ask, then why do you take those science courses if they are so tough? Well, I do love a good challenge. And, despite be arduous at times it is what I want to do in the future. 


To me, art can be anything and everything. It is whatever, whoever, whenever, and where ever. I chose Duke because of how I felt I belong to the community. Duke prioritizes the arts and definitely creates a community of artists. I feel like the school really encourages creation. I also love how as an artist I do not have to seek out opportunities, but the school encourages and passes them along. I am constantly receiving emails and checking out flyers on the walls about clubs and events that are super unique and tailored to my interests. The amount of support from both my peers and professors in the creative process is more than I could have ever imagined. Art is SO important as a Duke student. Whether you are an Economics major or a psychology major or Pre-Med, you have other passions and talents, otherwise you wouldn’t be here at Duke. I find one commonality between many students in art classes— that so many of them are not art majors, including myself. This is so important because it shows how well rounded our student body is and; another great thing is that this implies students have tested the waters, they are experimenting with different fields to ensure they do what they love and love what they do. Wherever I go, I will always be an “artist,” but at Duke especially.

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