I know that as a ceramics student (and as the Where Creativity Works ceramics blogger), I talk an awful lot about clay… and I love that, don’t get me wrong, but at Marywood, I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to access all sorts of classes outside my concentration, both other studios and lecture courses. And I love those, too.
Some of my favorite liberal arts lecture courses I’ve taken were about women and gender studies in the context of religion and in the context of the developing world. The former was a religion course, and the latter was a course I took for history credit. They opened up my eyes to many incredibly complex issues, and even changed the way I consciously perceive the world, reinforcing my desire to not pass judgement, and beat the innate biases from which we, as humans, cannot totally disassociate. I found that in discussing topics I grew to find terribly important, it was easy to become engaged and shed the quiet shell I had as a nervous first year student.
“I found I was capable of accomplishing things I never thought I could and my potential increased exponentially”
Furthermore, those courses came to charge my artwork. It forced me to think critically about what kind of artwork I wanted to make, what my artwork would speak about or to. I truly believe that my liberal arts courses that dealt with women were a large catalyst for the birth of my torso sculpture I wrote so much about last year (which proved to be hugely successful within my studio, at least). I also believe whole-heartedly that the critical thinking and analytical skills I have gained and built on will help me unearth other issues that will inspire me to make art that challenges the viewer.
I have also come to really appreciate the other studios I’ve taken, even if at first I really was not fond of them. Despite my affinity for ceramics (self-proclaimed may it be), I was not artistically inclined with a pencil or charcoal or oil paint, or even qualified to use a soldering iron, let alone fire a kiln or use a bandsaw. In fact, I was so timid in my first drawing class I’d hardly make ten marks on the page in an entire three hour period, choking back tears of insecurity twice a week. I was even so reluctant to use the machines in the woodshop for one project, I asked the technician to make the cuts for me on a machine that was off limits to first year students. I know now though that perseverance is so crucial. Pushing through some of the things that I hated the most, and even pushing through stress when it was at the highest level I have ever experienced, I found I was capable of accomplishing things I never thought I could and my potential increased exponentially. You get out of the experience what you put into it, whatever it is, and in applying myself, I’ve seen the reward is more than satisfying.
I know I’m not the best illustrator, and I’ll never be a master painter like Monet or Matisse, but I am proud of how far I’ve come. And I have something to take away from all of it, not just innately, but physically too:
I’ve learned to see so differently, when I put a brush to canvas, and when I watch the news. I’ve gained so much dexterity not only in drawing on pages of my sketchbook, but in thinking critically about social issues. It is evident to me that the liberal arts background in conjunction with the diverse studios I have taken will be absolutely invaluable.