Sunday, December 2, 2018

Being an Artist at Duke- Sneha Mehrotra

I have always had a strong passion for art. Ever since I remember, I was drawing on whatever surface I could find, whether that be a textbook or class notebook. Throughout middle and high school, I was able to spend ample amount of time on my passion. I took private oil painting lessons for 10 years and AP art throughout high school, making about a painting and 10 drawings a week. I grew upon my skillset and was able to get in a lot of practice through my school assignments. I always thought that I would be able to continue this passion at Duke. However, to my disappointment, my schedule in college drastically changed.

During my freshman year, I tried to force myself to take time out on a weekly basis for art. I quickly realized that it was more difficult than it seemed as I prioritized completing my math problem sets over freely sketching in my sketchbook. I started to slack off and ended up getting minimal practice through my freshman year. This year, I made sure to take an art class so that I could ensure that I had a set amount of time to continue my passion. Intermediate Drawing has allowed me not only to follow a schedule, but also to form a personal artistic voice. Through my experimentation early on in the course, I was able to understand what I truly love creating and how it reflects my interests. I began the class working off of pictures I took during my summer in Guatemala and immediately grew interested in the detailed and textured look of the drawings. This heavily influenced the continuation of my portfolio as I maintained my artistic style and applied it to common scenes on Duke’s campus.

At the end of this class, I believe that I have grown in both skill and purpose. The loose directions allowed me to pursue what I was truly interested in and form a purpose in my art that will go beyond any course and inform all of my artistic decisions going forward. Also, when first signing up for this class, I was very hesitant about the media choices. As a painter, I preferred working with wet media and canvases. With little experience with drawing, I realized that it would be a great growth opportunity to broaden my skillset. To my surprise, I started to enjoy drawing. I liked the flexibility of being able to do my art wherever I was and amount of detail I was able to create through a pencil. I became more patient with every drawing and learned how to best utilize my time through our weekly projects. Looking back at the work I have created this semester, I can proudly say that I have greatly grown in my willingness to experiment as an artist.

Regarding the art community at Duke, I believe that it is very open and inclusive. Most of the students that I have met that are interested in art are studying a wide variety of subjects, from History to Math. I find this particularly interesting as I thought that most art students in my class would be Visual Art majors, which proved to be false. There is also a community of art beyond the classroom at Duke, especially through the Visual Arts committee. I have had my art displayed at several of their events and attended many workshops. Organizations such as VisArts do an incredible job of uniting different styles of artists across campus and giving time to students to practice their passions. Art has become an increasingly large part of the Duke experience for me as I have found it as a unique method to portray my personality. I always love to share my drawings with fellow classmates who are curious to hear about my projects. However, one of the most incredible aspects about art at Duke is that it allows me to destress. After coming back to my apartment after a difficult math exam, I know that I can always relax by sketching or painting. Art gives balance to my life at Duke and I hope to continue to grow my passion throughout my time here!

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