Friday, April 26, 2019

Being an Artist at Duke University

Being an artist at Duke is not easy. Everyone is talented in their unique way and there are so many people; also at times it feels like most of society does not care about Art. Thus, it is difficult to make people care about what you do, when there is not always an interest in the first place.

What is something that most of us posses? For most, it is language and the ability to speak. Daniel Webster once said “If all my possessions were taken from me, with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication — for with it, I would regain all the rest.”

I also argue that most of us posses some art work as well. Whether it is the building(s) you inhabit, clothing, a painting, picture, furniture,  all of these objects or places created can be seen through a lens in which they are a bi-product of someone's aesthetic or artistic approach. But then am I claiming that Art is not a product but an aesthetic? Maybe?

Manifesto: A public declaration, often political in nature, of a group or individual’s principles, beliefs, and intended courses of action.

Am I placing an emphasis on the aesthetic experience or the emotions evoked?
Is there something specific to the work’s aesthetics and politics, creativity and criticism, visual vocabulary and emotive universe?
1. Don’t make Art in a vacuum or in a room with no windows.
2. Don’t kill your ideas before you test them
3. Don’t get distracted. Curiosity did not kill the cat, hesitation did.
4. It is OK to recycle or just reinvent

An Artist’s statement:
Hannah Faye Waleh is an Iranian-American filmmaker and visual artist who is interested in how language works and when language fails. Compelled to experiment with video, text and illustration, her work coalesces oral and visual language.
Her work is the culmination of her research interests and the development of her artistic practice here at Duke.
The process of making film is what I can only describe as an activity, a daily habit.
Genres are defined as categories of artistic practices having particular forms, contents, or techniques. Albeit, they are useful when browsing Netflix, in my opinion I find that genres are constrictive. Film, the medium, inherently crosses genres, and blurs the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. “In all the arts, there are those moments that are as though somebody has made the gesture of raising a palm, which is not a stop sign, but a — 'Attend, hush, listen.” I think those are the moments we really live for in art, the moment where the artfulness falls away, and all that is left is that thing we don’t have a better word for beyond poetry.” - Teju Cole

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Being an artist at Duke

Varsity athlete. Engineering student, undergrad, masters, PhD. Volunteer. Cameron Crazie. Artist.

My identity at Duke has grown and changed throughout my eight years here, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. I’ve inhabited multiple social spheres--athletics, engineering, community service, student government. I’ve assumed multiple labels. But a constant has always been my passion for art.

Art making for me has always been an escape. A right-brained reprieve from my quant-heavy studies. A way to relax my mind after a long week. At times even a nice ego boost or method --when I can sit down and make a drawing simply for the “look what I just made” reminder for self-assurance.

However, it has always been a passion I’ve held at arm’s length, rather than truly embraced. I generally view art as a side passion rather than a vocation or career. I do allow creativity to influence other aspects of my work, like coming up with unorthodox research ideas or experimenting with 3D printing technology. But pure art has always inhabited a rather constrained portion of my attention and time. Just  a recreational drug or a guilty pleasure for when I’m tired at staring at equations or code.

Throughout this semester I’ve told my engineering colleagues the only class I’m taking is an art class. This usually elicits laughs and jests.  As if any artistic endeavor was a trivial, childish, cute waste of time for an engineering PhD student. Or that it’s a side gimmick for a student-athlete. And the idea that creative pursuits are unnecessary for STEM students is definitely prevalent. It has definitely influenced, or dampened, my participation in the arts community at Duke.

I’ve so enjoyed taking this drawing class because even though the students come from a such wide variety of backgrounds--whether they’re premed, CS, or pure art--everyone is taking time out of their busy schedules to draw, make art, and be creative. It makes me feel that my own time spent creating art is more reasonable and more valuable. And this structured time to make art has only made me more creative in my research work. When we take a little time to draw, who knows what other ideas we can stir up!

Monday, April 22, 2019

to be an artist at duke

To be an artist at duke is to be independent. It means seeking out things you’re interested in by yourself and taking the time and effort to reach out to the right people and forging your own path with little guidance.

I sometimes think it is hard to be an artist at duke. While the resources are abound and spaces like the arts annex and ruby exist, i think we should publicize more the experimental works of students who are pushing boundaries. This was hard to find before the Ruby, but over the past year i’ve seen more showcases of experimental work from students and I very much appreciated the opportunity to do so. from installations like the ocean room to exhibits like the invisible organ to reception parties of student published zines like recipes of resilience, having the accessible space of the ruby has promoted art installations to grow beyond 2D pieces and has opened my eyes to ways of expression and creation in new ways. 

Making art at Duke

I find that this class has significantly helped me to feel more comfortable making art at Duke.  I really enjoyed Drawing in high school.  The people in the classes I took formed a very tight community and we really enjoyed making art together and watching each other grow as artists.  Before I took this class, I did not think I would pursue art at Duke.  When I was younger, I thought I would be an artist as an adult, but as I grew older my priorities changed.  Now, making art, and especially drawing, is more of a form of relaxation.
I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and I've found that making art, and focusing on the minute details of a piece really helps me focus in other areas of my life.  In my first semester at Duke, I did not draw as much.  After taking this course and drawing more in general, I realized how much drawing still helps me focus and the impact it has on my life and ability to concentrate.  Thus, while I may not pursue an art degree or career, it still is an important part of my Duke experience and my everyday life.
Sine I am an athlete, I have not yet found a community of artists that I truly bonded with.  However, taking this course and after feeling inspired by my classmate's art, I hope that I will find and seek out a community of art enthusiasts in the future

Art at Duke

My initial experience with Duke University came before I ever arrived on campus. It all began when people would ask me, “what college will you be attending upon graduation,” in which I would reply, “Duke”. At first, they would be shocked, gasp out a “congratulations”, and ask me the follow up question:
    “What will you major in?”
The question always left me shocked. What was I going to major in? I knew that I had time before I had to actually declare my major, but their impulsive question made me stress. I thought: What should a Duke University student major in? Something science for sure and being that I was, at the time, fascinated by physics, I replied just that. Physics.
    Duke University has this bubble around itself that relays the same information. Duke is a math and science school. The closest Duke gets to “the arts”, upon first glance, is the fact that the school itself holds a certain and famous beauty in its architectural style and aesthetically pleasing designs. Other than that, its visually appealing campus is only a facade for the students that fill its halls.
    At O-Week, not one singular freshman had told me that they were here to pursue a major in art (or any artistic major in any sort). I simply got the usual: economics, statistics, environmental science, and pre-med (pre-med! pre-med!!!). Granted, many of the freshmen never had the chance to “explore their options” and “branch out” in “different” classes yet, but how will they branch out when they come in with a set mind? So many of my friends dread thinking about how they are going to fill out their ALP requirements before graduating. Many of them had told me “Angie, do not wait too long to fill out your ALP’s. Those classes will bite you in the a** later”. In which they were shocked to hear my answer that I had already completed my ALP’s and continue to take more.
    For many students, the ALP classes are the closest they will ever get to even get to experience the multitude of art classes that Duke has to offer. I feel that not many people take pride in the multiple art events that Duke has to offer. People still are shocked when I tell them my list of classes and they hear “Drawing” listed. As if, they were not too sure that there were many (if any) art classes (like drawing or painting) offered at Duke, simply because Duke is known to be the math and science school and not the art school. My experience at Duke will always include some form of art in it. I continually try to get my friends to join me even though they claim, “I could never, I am not good at art”. Many people are told to not pursue something you are bad at because if you fail that is bad. The math and science community here at Duke is vigorous and builds up a wall that hurts when you crumble. The art community at Duke never builds that wall in the first place, and welcomes all with arms wide open.

Art at Duke

Duke University is known for two things: our men's basketball team, and our status as a top-10 university. The students are known to work hard but also party hard, and most undergraduates are on a pre-professional track. Its reputation for the arts is not one that many people talk about when applying for college. But a visit to and lo and behold, "ARTS" is prominently displayed at the top of the page.

Arts is one of the six sections Duke lists at the top of their website.
It appears to be something that Duke as a university tries to emphasize in their public image, but for many students, it's possible to spend their entire school life without any interaction with the arts, aside from brunch at Nasher Cafe. The top 5 undergraduate majors are Computer Science, Economics, Public Policy, Biology, and Psychology, all some form of science. In this regard, it doesn't look like many students choose to study the arts. However, that doesn't mean that art does not exist at Duke at all.

In my experience, the arts at Duke are pursued as hobbies or side passions alongside academics, often a continuation of what students did before they entered college (though not all keep up with it). Some join dance groups, orchestras, or visit the Arts Annex to draw and paint. For artists in the traditional sense (i.e. drawing, painting, or sculpture), I get the sense that they are exist in isolation rather than in groups - there isn't a "community" in a sense that all the artists at Duke know all of each other.

However, the resources to pursue art are everywhere - one just needs to look for it. Duke provides plenty of resources to pursue art in many medium, the artist just needs to take initiative.

Being an Artist at Duke (and in life)

Ever since I was a toddler, I have been an artist. In sixth grade,
I created my first portrait (of Taylor Swift), which sparked
my passion for portraiture and other drawings. Every time I
finished a new drawing, I brought it in for my classmates to
see. There was something so exciting and gratifying about
the way their faces lit up after seeing my work.

Since then, art has been a central part of my identity. At some
moments, it becomes a priority, something at the forefront of
my mind; at others, it acts as more of a hobby. I attended a
very academic private high school, where my main focuses
were good grades and STEM-related activities. But every
Saturday, I found solace at my 3-hour art classes, where I could
express this essential side of myself.

People have always been surprised to find that my two main
interests are math/computer science and art/music. When I
explain how much I enjoy both sides of myself, most people
say that they haven’t met many people so drawn to both
quantitative studies and art. But I have always loved using
both right and left sides of my brain. Honestly, I think that
my interest in math has helped my art, and vice-versa. Years
of drawing and painting classes have given me patience and
attention to detail, which I apply to problem solving in more
quantitative areas of my life.

Coming into Duke this year, I promised that I wouldn’t let
myself lose my love for the arts. Through playing violin in
the orchestra and taking Intermediate Drawing, I have kept
this promise. I’ve also made an effort to experience art forms
outside my comfort zone, like Hoof ‘n Horn musicals and
dance performances. Going to these performances makes me
so happy; it’s amazing to see how incredibly talented Duke
students are. I always encourage my friends to go to these
performances because I do think art is an important part of
the Duke experience. Dance showcases like Street Medicine
and DefMo are always packed for a reason: Duke students are
just so talented and it’s important to celebrate and appreciate

The community of artists at Duke is, at first glance, almost
hidden. But through closer inspection, I’ve found that there
are artists everywhere. When I talk about my love for music
and art, I almost always find people who share these interests
in some way. Not everyone chooses to participate in the arts,
but most at least watch. And from watching, even just one
orchestra concert or dance performance or visual art
exhibition, students can become involved in the arts.

On Being an Artist at Duke

Art at Duke-

Being an artist at Duke is at once a challenge and an opportunity. While it is true that Duke offers unparalleled resources for artists-- state of the art facilities for performing and visual arts, along with countless chances to experience and participate in the art of world-class professionals-- art can oftentimes feel secondary at a school so intently focused on academic prowess, cutting-edge research and athletic achievement. In an environment where the stresses of career prospects, social pressures, and personal distinction are constantly present, it is easy to see how art often takes a back seat, akin to a form of recreation or therapy rather than a serious study.

The undeniable truth is that extraordinary artists need time and focus to be able to create successful and valuable art, neither of which are abundantly available to most Duke students. If being an artist were as simple as participating in a certain craft, then the majority of Duke students would fit this descriptor-- most students will surely make an exploration into some form of art while at Duke, whether in the form of  a dance group or visual arts class or comedy troupe or symphony orchestra. Duke, for its part, provides as many opportunities and resources for these fields to be explored as any other major university, whether it be through beautiful facilities, experienced professors, or the best tools that money can buy. Being an artist, though, takes more than exploration. Being an artist takes a devotion that cannot easily be taught, and will never be taught properly at a school that places so much emphasis on academic legacy and professional prestige. At Duke, students are encouraged to explore the arts, but not to BE artists.

In this way, Duke will never be an "arts school." Though the university may attract talented students by channeling more and more funding into artistic resources, successful artists can only be born in areas where they are not only allowed but encouraged to devote themselves fully to art. At the end of the day, most Duke students did not come to the school solely on the basis of their art; likely the ones who included artistic elements in their applications did so in a supplemental way, just as most Duke students only supplement their career interests with artistic endeavors. The fields of visual and performing arts likely will never appeal to the university as promotable areas of study as long as they remain less respected and lucrative careers.

There is certainly a community of art patronage, or "tourism" at Duke, but the university has very little invested in creating a community of actual artists. Perhaps Duke is fulfilling an obligation by expending plenty of resources to campus arts (a more cynical person might say the school is simply trying to appear more attractive to multifaceted students in whom it sees large returns), but little will be done to create a community of devoted and serious artists at the university until Duke offers the same preparation for students to be professional artists that it offers students hoping to be doctors, consultants, and engineers.

On Being an Artist at Duke

There is a common perception at Duke that the study of art, and therefore the artists, are pushed aside in favor of more quantitative careers such as STEM or economics. This is only somewhat true in my experience. It’s true that Duke likely does not allocating the same amount of funding to the arts as it does to research grants in other fields (not to mention sports), but I have found that the general perception of the arts among Duke students is surprisingly positive. I know many people who are interested in taking art classes or who have taken art classes, and I know many people take advantage of the DUUArts week. I believe that art is an important part of the Duke experience for many people, whether they are choosing to pursue a career in art, produce art as a one of their main interests, or if they simply view art as a way to destress and spend some time doing something creative.

For me, art is something that I don’t plan on making a career in, but I still choose to dedicate significant time to making art since it is something I enjoy. I added art as a second major after realizing that a minor wouldn’t allow me to develop my skills as much as focusing on a full senior capstone project and taking more art classes would. For me, art is a way to take a break from other classes and to focus my mind on something other than memorizing facts or solving written problems. I found that in making art, there is a sense of problem-solving as well, but more more abstract: how do you depict this idea in your head on a piece of paper or canvas? I enjoy grappling with this question and trying to find solutions, so much so that I sometimes find myself spending time on art that I should be spending on some of my other work.

I have sometimes contemplated pursuing a career in art, but ultimately decided that my interest in medicine outweighed my interest in art, even if not by much. And I have found that the artists I know at Duke have been incredibly supportive of this decision. Students, professors, and artists in residence alike have formed a welcoming for any artists regardless of experience or intent to practice art as a career. I have received great advice and critiques on my art that have helped me improve as an artist. Overall, being an artist at Duke has, so far, been an overwhelmingly positive experience that has made my time at Duke that much more enjoyable. While I think that the idea of art as a career choice is maybe not quite as respected as going into other fields like science or law, I believe that most people at Duke have a favorable view of art. I admit that I may be slightly biased since I myself am planning a career in the sciences rather than in the arts, but my experience as an artist here at Duke, at the very least, has been a positive one.

On being an art Student at Duke

                 Being an artist at Duke is like walking through the gardens, except blinded. You hear about the beauty of the flowers and how happy everyone looks to be there. You may hear the laughter or smell the blooming flowers but you can't see them. You walk through the garden, stumbling, only to have the blindfold removed at the end. You realize in those last 5 minutes of being at the gardens how much there was to see that you didn't see. You leave hoping you can walk the gardens again without the blindfold.

              Taking a heavy stem courseload with an art class this semester made me feel blinded to all the opportunities and lessons of doing art at Duke. While this class has given me a chance to express my creativity in ways that I couldn't in my Math classes, I still feel like I have failed my artistic self. Maybe I had too high expectations while enrolling. I wanted to master the use of lines in order to be able to describe anything with just lines. While I have improved significantly, I cannot confidently say that I have achieved my goals.
collaged flowers

                Close to the end of the class, I discovered collage and colorful patterns. That was like being allowed to experience the garden fully but, only for a few minutes. I am thankful for the journey that has been taking this class, for the chance to explore the patterns in African fabric and in extension - the culture, for a chance to learn what colors compliment each other and why some colors can only be put on certain patterns.  Most Importantly I am thankful for having a professor and classmates who offered me critical feedback every week in my best interest. I can say that I learned the most from the critique sessions that forced me to see my pieces from different perspectives literally and metaphorically.
               My journey as an art student at Duke doesn't end here and I will be back soon to explore the garden and its flowers fully.

Angel M.

Art at Duke

Art at Duke
As an aspiring artist, studying at Duke, a school heavily focused on pre professional careers, often feels somewhat out of place. While I do plan on majoring in the very popular major computer science with a specialization in data science and minoring in philosophy, I wish to eventually work in the entertainment industry on concept design. Among all the pre meds, pre consultants and pre laws, the path I am choosing is far from conventional. However, conversations with my academic advisor, professors and friends always make me feel supported and understood. 
I think Duke is increasingly doing a great job in incorporating art as part of its culture. The myriad of workshops at the Arts Annex, student organized figure drawing workshops and open events on the BC plaza all represent a blooming student passion for the arts. As an artist studying non-art subjects at Duke, I see my time at Duke as a diverse learning experience rather than a means to achieve some career goal. I think the reverse should be true for other students at Duke too. Even for someone who’s pre-dental with a set path to their ideal job market, the scope of one’s study should be expansive, including exposure to the creative arts. 

Art making should also be a community effort. Art is never created in a vacuum. Artistic works are often reflections of the external influences on a particular artist. Feedback from others is critical to the growth of an artist and often result in unexpected inspirations that lead to further artistic creations. DrawDurham, a new student org founded by Joyce Er, brought urban sketchers at Duke together and intended to create a friendly environment of artistic exchanges. Because Joyce was abroad this semester, events were not extended to the spring semester. However, based on the interest and support it generated last semester, I see immense growth potential in DrawDurham and hope a tight community of artists can be connected and fostered further at my time at Duke. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Essay on Being an Artist at Duke

De’Ivyion Drew 
VISARTS 205-001 
April 21st, 2019 

How does art fit into your life at Duke? 
Although I am limited to part-time student status at Duke University, I find that I naturally gravitate toward the tastefully placed glass and sunsets at the chapel. Art, I have recently found, is a way one moves through life. Intermediate Drawing has placed me in a setting where everyone uses art to move differently, and that in and of itself has taught me to own my stride. Conversations with others when they see my sketch board at the BC, the Lou, on East, even at the Chapel Bus Stop often focus on the art of living, which fits seamlessly with our task as students to reimagine and question everything. Furthermore, these spaces offer an opportunity to see how art is life moving through me, whether it is munching at East, contemplation at the BC, laughter at the Lou, or reverie off in the distance waiting for the C1 bus. 
Is there a community of artists at Duke? 
Community is what one makes of it, and with only one semester of being engaged with Duke, I am delighted to have made one already that grows by the day. Specifically, my artist community began the day that our class visited the Visiting Artist section of the Rubenstein Arts Center. William Paul Thomas has been an integral part of my first-year experience here at Duke University and I would like to use this moment to implore the university to employ more artists of color, particularly black men and women, because their impact goes beyond their stay at the Ruby. Through him, I have been connected to many other artists in his likeness who support me and the importance of my work in this world. Edom Tilahun. Dare Coulter. Alana Hyman. They are Duke Devils that give me drive to sketch, to craft, to imagine ways to merge the worlds of UNC and Duke flawlessly. 
Is art an important part of the Duke experience? 
As a Duke student, you would be remiss to exclude yourself from artistic engagement. A majority of extracurricular activities are art-based with the purpose to reconnect yourself with others and your inner self. Participants of student concerts and other extravaganzas feel fulfilled from being a part of art and art being a part of themselves. When I mention to other Devils that I am an art major, many of their facial dispositions change and they often proceed to speak the similar tale of “I played an instrument when I was younger, I wish I kept up with it.” or “I used to draw all the time, but I settled with an art minor instead.” or “I chose another passion instead of art, but I wish I didn’t have to choose at all.” Art is a common thread within all of the human experience, and I am fortunate to choose Art as my way of life, my only critique is that I wish others would realize that they can uncompromisingly live an artistic way of life in whatever discipline they pursue. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Being an Artist at Duke; Rachel Tung

Art was a really big part of my childhood. I was a really quiet kid and liked to spend a lot of time in my imagination. Art was a way to make my imagination feel a little bit more like reality. I drew my favorite TV characters and I made toys out of paper and plastic wrap. I was lucky in that my parents provided me the space and the opportunities to explore my love for art and visual design. 

At some point, though, I learned how the rest of the world viewed art. I heard people talking about “starving artists” and saying things like “art is not a career, it’s just a hobby.” And I let all these stigmatized views of art get to me. Up to that point, I was certain that my future existed within the creative industry. But then I became afraid of art. So, I pushed art aside for a little, exploring other subjects in fields that I assumed were better valued by society. And I did find a genuine interest in another subject - neuroscience. 

I came to Duke as a neuroscience major and although I was enjoying my classes, I found myself naturally gravitating back towards the creative arts outside of my coursework. I wanted to practice design and I tried to find whatever opportunities I could to do so. I would create flyers and logos for student organizations and spaces. Eventually, I became so invested in it that I sought professional experiences off-campus and even traveled abroad to study graphic design. Throughout these experiences, I began to develop an identity as an artist and designer. I felt connected to visual art and design. Art and design was not just about making things look good, but also telling stories and building experiences. As my belief in design strengthened and I regained my passion for art and design, I decided to pursue it with full force. I switched to a psychology major after learning about human-centered design and looked for more on-campus opportunities to practice design. 

It is difficult, sometimes, to be an artist, especially as a Duke student. There are often negative reactions from people when they hear I want to be a designer. “Why would you take art classes at Duke?” “It’s hard to make a living as a designer.” I will never forget the look of concern on my high school friends’ faces when I told them I switched to a psychology major and wanted to work in the design industry. But the belief I have in art and design’s ability to shape the world, and the identity I am working to build, provides me a source of comfort and protection.