Recently in my government class we discussed what is truly necessary in schools and what is unnecessary and should be cut. Howell High School seniors and United States congressmen both directly targeted art classes as the first classes to go. That infuriated me. I don’t understand how education can be comprised only of teaching directly to the standardized tests so that students can be manipulated like robots to bubble in correct answers. Learning facts is a very important part of education, but I think we need to learn not necessarily what to think, but how to think.
I can easily pinpoint the beginning of my passion for art to my standard sixth grade art class. Like most memorable classes, my teacher was extraordinarily devoted and passionate about her job. She would do almost anything to help us develop our love for art. The last project of the year was huge fundraiser for the local animal shelter. Community members submitted photographs of their dogs which were chosen by art students who would paint big portraits of the animals. The paintings would then be sold back to the dog owner and all the money that was raised was given directly to the Humane Society. I worked tirelessly on my painting and spent time before and after school mixing colors and learning to love this type of expression. It was probably the most fulfilling experience of my life up to that point.
Those who are in favor of cutting art classes might argue that I would have developed another passion or another skill that could aid me somehow in test taking or perhaps a talent that could help people on a bigger scale, like learning medicine or law. When I was in sixth grade, helping homeless dogs at the animal shelter was enough. I learned that I am capable of making a change, and I can use my art to accomplish that.
My freshman year of high school I enrolled in a photography class. Now photography is my primary form of expression. Although my work is mostly digital, I recently started using a film camera that was purchased for twenty-five cents at a garage sale. I had my first roll developed last week. Delighted with the results, I now realize that there are many paths I can take in my artistic endeavors.
And I definitely want to continue photography. I also plan to set more challenging goals for myself . In 2011 I took a photograph and posted it on flickr along with a short description every single day for 365 days. Not only do I have a flawless record of events over the course of the year, I also have developed my skill. Now I want to take more risks with my art and add more meaning in my photographs.
Recently I’ve also learned more what it means to help people with my passion like I did with my painting in middle school. At the end of November, as my 365 project was concluding, I was contacted by an old friend asking me to take senior portraits for a girl she knew could not afford them. My apprehension sprung not from the fact that I didn’t know the girl whatsoever, but because I was terrified that they would not live up to her expectations and embarrass her. I met the girl at the public library and she was absolutely gorgeous. She spoke with an accent and had a mane of beautiful black hair. I took over one hundred photos of her as we found new places downtown and when I got back to the comfort of my room and began editing the photos I realized I was shaking with excitement. It was exhilarating not only to have succeeded in the photography, but also because I was doing what I believe I was meant to do.
I know I will feel that again. If I can develop my skill even more and learn even more about studio art and the technology that accompanies it, I am sure that I can do little things that might change someone’s life.
I truly believe there are some things that one can only articulate or understand through art. That’s why I do it. Creating art will always be a part of me. Even as I change and grow into adulthood, creating art will be part of me forever.