Monday, December 2, 2019

Being an Artist at Duke

Art has, until this semester, seemed to evade my time at Duke. Having grown up constantly painting and drawing, and considering I maintain the hope that I will enter a profession that will enable me to continue to explore my artistic side, this is certainly rather unusual. Oddly, the only opportunities I have had to delve into my creative fervor have been the rare moments where I have volunteered to help events that required painted decorations. As these chances come far and few in between, I tend to use them as a chance to further my passion for graffiti, often using spray paint and stencils where possible. These, however, have not satisfied my interest in the art form and so with this class I tried to develop a deeper understanding of graffiti through drawing. 
Indeed, using a pencil to make graffiti styled pieces forced me to study and try to replicate already produced pieces to convey the motion of spray paint and the limited nature of stencils. A native of England myself, the renowned British artist ‘Banksy’ has always garnered my respect in both the beauty of his art but particularly the message that each piece delivers. This is a characteristic I have tried to transfer to my art and is certainly something I plan to do in the future, both at Duke and elsewhere.
In particular, since I joined as a freshman, I have consistently admired the walls that surround the bridge over Campus Drive near East Campus. A space dedicated for students to express their views and thoughts, I admire the community that it promotes and the sense of unity it creates in promoting important causes, from social change movements to memorials. The only sadness that strikes me each time I pass the intricately decorated walls is that, for the overwhelming majority of Duke students, this is the extent to their art experience at Duke. In fact, even as a person who considers himself a consistent supporter and follower of art, I find it hard to fulfil my passion for it on a day to day bases around campus. Whether it be the heavily numerical classes that I take for my major or the lack of time I have each week to visit spaces such as the Nasher Museum or the Arts Annex, needless to say it has proven difficult to stay in touch beyond this class. Although I plan to take several more visual arts classes while I am here, I fear that many of my fellow students may not have this luxury. My hope is that Duke will make efforts to spread both student and external artworks across campus, possibly creating more spaces like the walls under the bridge. This will enable to students and other community members to pass by these exhibitions daily and naturally be exposed to art, public spaces much like those that artists such as Banksy utilize potently to deliver beautiful pieces and important messages all at once.

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