Wednesday, April 22, 2020

On Being an Artist at Duke - Bree

Art is my biggest passion that I've never made time for.

At my dad's house there are tons of sketchbooks I've completely filled through the years. My most productive time was from 10-15ish when I actively made and sell jewelry and art online. Those efforts enabled me to put a down payment on my first car, and then I started to work to pay it off. The time to create fell off between work, school, sports, and hanging with friends. The only time I could find was forcing myself to always be taking some art class at my high school, an hour of everyday that I could devote entirely to what I loved doing.

I was an economics major and premed. As you can imagine, there was no time at all for art the first year and a half of my college career. Art was a very rare hobby of mine, and what had been a huge part of my identity became something I rarely talked about. Only my roommates really knew that I had any artistic interest at all. When I realized that economics wasn't as interesting to me as I thought it would be and has no bearing on my plans for the future, I decided that the best thing to do for myself would be to switch my major, once again forcing myself to make the time for something I deeply enjoy.

Since then, it's become a part of me again. I still rarely do any art for pleasure, but at least I am doing something every week to fulfill assignments and what not. In my experience, the culture at Duke doesn't really permit spending any spare time on hobbies like art. I used to check out art books from Lilly weekly, look through them, feel so inspired to create, to then never find the time to do so.

There's definitely a bit of a stigma to it, too. The thing about taking a drawing class is that there is no shortcut. You can't not put the time in to a final piece and expect it to look how you planned, whereas you can probably bullshit an essay or find the answers to a problem set online. So, when it's a Tuesday night and I know I have to set aside some time to finish up a drawing for Wednesday, some people don't take it as seriously as if I had an exam the next day. To quote my boyfriend's four-year-old brother, "I don't have to be quiet around you when you are drawing because you aren't doing real work like Faris and Rami."

Beyond the culture, though, I am grateful that Duke has given me the flexibility to get an art degree (which is not something I ever would've dreamt of growing up) along with some science degrees and the chance to become a doctor. The artist-half of me is free to roam without guilt. Now, I can outwardly say I spend a large amount of my time creating. Not only do my roommates know about my passion, but so do my friends, their friends, their friends' families. I've asked friends to model for me, had intimate conversations with them about their identity, and given them finished products that I am proud to have made. Maybe finding your foot as an artist at Duke is just something that takes time, or maybe I was lucky to eventually find myself in the position I am. Regardless, it is certainly worth trying.

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