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!