Before coming to Duke, I did art nearly every day. From drawing to painting to sculpting to any type of art I could get my hands on. But as soon as I set foot on campus, that passion for art faded a little. I was too busy with soccer; I was too busy with school. So my art fell by the wayside. I went to the arts annex to paint a few times during my freshman year and over the summer I would occasionally doodle a drawing or two. But I didn’t have much free time, and what free time I did have I didn’t have the desire to spend drawing. Perhaps it was that I didn’t see the value in it. Perhaps I thought that it had been such a long time since I had last drawn and I probably wasn’t very good anymore. Or perhaps, starting a new drawing project during a semester full of other academic projects did sounds like an appealing endeavor.
It wasn’t until senior year, fall, when my schedule opened up enough for me to take a class or two that didn’t need to meet a specific class requirement. My dad had always encouraged me to take an art class while at Duke. He knew how much I enjoyed it when I was younger so he always told me he hoped one day I would get the chance to take one in college. This fall was my chance! But I hesitated when I was going to enroll for classes. Why? Well because the art I remember loving was the art that didn’t have a deadline. The art that wasn’t necessarily graded on quality so much as effort. I had no idea how my art would compare to the other people in my class, and I didn’t think I would like being constrained to the assignments and deadlines of a class.
But I decided to go for it. “How bad could it be?” I reasoned, “it’ll be fun.” Besides, I figured, it would be a nice break from the science heavy classes I was used to. So I went for it and I enrolled in my first ever art class at Duke. And I found, much to me relief, that none of my fears about a college level art class came to fruition. The assignments allowed me more freedom than I expected to draw whatever I wished, so I was able to design a project based on my own interests and draw what I am passionate about. The deadlines forced me to learn how to draw quicker and with more quality in a short time. And finally, I hadn’t suddenly forgotten everything I had ever learned about art and could actually still draw quite well according to my own standards. I expected to find myself in a classroom full of art majors, but I was actually surprised to find myself sitting beside a biochemical engineer who was also taking an art class for fun, just like me!
So, to any Duke student who enjoys art but who doesn’t think they have time to take an art class or who doesn’t think they will be skilled enough or experienced enough to participate, I recommend going for it! Put yourself out there, and be open to try and learn new things, and you just might enjoy a Duke art class as much as I have.