Thursday, April 23, 2020

On Being an Artist at Duke

Duke is an incredibly stressful and different atmosphere than I've ever dealt with before. I had no intention of pursuing art in college because, although generic and expected of students in higher education, I am a pre-med Neuro major who hopes to attend medical school. Nevertheless, here I am in an art class and hoping to pursue art further. Originally, art was just something I was good at and could be used as a hobby or a destress every once and a while. After attending an art school, it became more of a career prospect and future; however, I switched back to a normal high school, and very quickly my goals for the future realigned. That said, like most students who end up at Duke, I am very passionate about my goals and the future. The reason why I took an art class during my first year of college is that I was fed up with the atmosphere surrounding me at Duke that pressured me into a cookie-cutter mold of what every student had to do in order to attend medical school. 

My life has always been untraditional and when I arrived at Duke, I had no intention of making it traditional. My first week at Duke was spent doing a pre-orientation program centered around the arts, and I now am involved in many organizations on campus that support the arts. I have come to realize that art will not be a future for me, with good reason. I use art as an escape from the expectations and severe pressure on students at Duke. If I was to pursue art in an educational manner like any other field of study, it would quickly become weighed down with the rules of higher education. This is why, at Duke, I have become heavily involved in the arts, but only extracurricularly. 

I have found that being an artist at Duke is fairly rare in comparison to my peers and likewise the community surrounding arts at Duke is fairly limited. Furthermore, the support given to the artistic communities on campus is way less than communities centered around STEM. I believe this is not entirely the fault of Duke, but more of a fault in the way the educational system is structured in the United States. It is based around money, and children are told from a very young age to become something that 1) makes a lot of money and 2) holds a lot of power (think lawyer, doctor, president, etc.). Nevertheless, I have found my niche in the student body at Duke. I realize that I do not attend an art school and should not expect the Duke community or administration to emphasize the arts; however, I hope that in my time here, I can pass on an appreciation for the arts and support the artistic community at Duke to help change the system from one of tunnel-visioned futures to one that supports peoples' desires and passions. 

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