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.