Sunday, November 24, 2019

On Being an Artist at Duke - Juliana Arbelaez

Until this semester, I had never seriously integrated art into my life at Duke. Beyond making my own dorm art or being asked to paint coolers for friends in the spring, I rarely dedicated time to seriously practicing art. If discussing art in a liberal sense, my dedication to film photography as a means to document my college years could be counted as practicing art. In high school, I took IB Visual Arts HL. Coming to college, I switched from dedicating a couple hours a day to art to almost none in just a summer. I think this is because of the overarching pressure at Duke to focus on “academic” or career-oriented pursuits instead of something that is often written off as extracurricular.

In the general sense, I don’t think that art is an important part of the Duke experience. I don’t think labs or late nights in Perkins or even the basketball team are an important part of the Duke experience either. Every individual at this school has a different experience and thus has factors with differing important to that experience. In saying this, I admit that can be an essential part of an individual’s Duke experience. It has yet to become part of mine, not because of lack of significance, but simply because I have chosen to dedicate the time that has constituted my experience thus far to other things. 

I do think that Duke has a community of artists if you desire to become a part of it. We have incredible spaces to practice different art forms like the Arts Annex, the Ruby, and Smith. Although the artistic community may seem quieter than some of the other communities on Duke’s campus, I don’t think this is because of its lack of existence or vibrance. I would encourage all students to take an art class at Duke, regardless of previous experience or desire to pursue art further. Whether it be a drawing, photography, or dance course, I think taking the time to grow in an area that may be unfamiliar or challenge a different part of yourself is beneficial and a necessary part of the college experience. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

To be an Artist at Duke

Art is what keeps me grounded. At Duke and other
Duke-adjacent schools, it isn’t difficult to become
consumed with grades and expectations and extracurriculars
and the all-too-familiar feeling of not doing enough.
Creating has become my solace. In the past, I found myself
perceiving art as a “breaktime” activity, something I’d do if
I got around to it--so I never did. Living this way--assignment
to assignment--is unsustainable and unhealthy. About halfway
through last year, I began to prioritize balance, carving out
time to create just as I carved out the time to study. 
Although art may not be put forth as a defining feature of
Duke, the campus is full of artists; it’s just a matter of
seeking out community with them. One’s first thought may
be to seek out this community by flocking to art-related
extracurriculars. In fact, when I arrived on campus, this is
how I assumed I should go about it. And although this is a
valid approach, I’ve found more community with artists
outside of extracurriculars--in happenstance revelations that
I have a passion in common with someone else. Many of
Duke’s artists are quiet creatives with a multitude of
different interests; fishing out who is also an artist has been
a really fulfilling experience for me. 

I think that art can be an important part of the Duke experience, if
one chooses to seek it out. Duke has so many artistic resources,
from the Ruby to the Arts Annex to film screenings, etc.
Experiencing art can be a huge source of growth; it exposes you
to different cultures, viewpoints, new ways of looking at things:
a time for reflection. College is a time to experience new ideas
and broaden your worldview. Art can help attain this. I believe
that incorporating art, whether it be as the creator or as the
viewer, provides the individual with a much fuller experience.