Almost everyone agrees: being an artist at Duke isn't easy. While this school is certainly prestigious, it isn't exactly known for its visual arts program or art-saturated setting. Duke is full of students hoping to become doctors, hedge fund managers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, IT specialists-- not many students enroll in this university to enter the art world. And while many may find art interesting, very few plan on using it in their desired careers. The general sense that Duke isn't an arts-driven school results in a widespread reaction of surprise when Duke students decide to major in art or pursue a career in the arts field, and this attitude, while innocent, is harmful to these students. It's discouraging to see so many peers take off on straightforward paths to lucrative jobs while art students are faced with the daunting task of navigating the art world in a world that isn't as conducive to art as they would like. It's necessary, however, that these students (which include me) don't abandon their goals because of this environment. Duke has resources and challenging courses that would prepare any willing student for a successful arts career and provide them with invaluable training in the arts during their tenure at the university.
Duke doesn't have the wide range of arts courses that an arts university may have, but because of its prestige, the courses is does offer are guaranteed to be well-taught and meaningful. No course is too easy; each challenges the student to practice skill and improve creativity. I know that my creativity and confidence in my abilities have certainly improved. I've worked with medium I would have never imagined I'd worked with, and I've only taken one semester of one art course at Duke. I've also significantly improved my portraiture skills simply by completing assignments. The creative freedom combined with mentorship that I receive from this class have been an incredible start to my art career at Duke, and they've inspired me to continue on this path, no matter how daunting or unique it may be.