Since the main purpose of this blog is to keep distant friends and relatives updated about my life, it is time to unveil my latest plan for the next couple years. No plans to travel anywhere exotic or partake in epic expeditions exist; hopefully the events of this past year have gotten that out of my system for now. Already several years behind most people my age, it’s time to pick a direction and go with it, a.k.a. go to school.
With interests spanning nearly every corner of the possibilities map, I ended up applying to three art schools and seven for marine biology for this upcoming fall. While it would be my dream to go to art school and pursue only my greatest passions, I decided I only wanted to go if accepted at a really good one, namely, the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. And while I poured my heart and soul into the school’s demanding application process, I never thought that I would actually be accepted. Besides the typical application materials (letters of recommendation, two essays, transcripts and resumes), RISD’s checklist includes one well-presented portfolio and three application drawings. Of doom.
Enter very foreboding theme music here. Drawing is not my greatest strength when it comes to artistic mediums – there is a reason I applied directly into the photography department. However, faced with the daunting task of nonetheless producing three hand-drawn pieces, I decided to check out what I was up against. A google image search of “RISD Application Drawings” produced the following images:
Uh, wow. Credit to the ridiculously talented artists; personally I have named these pieces Intimidation parts I, II and III.
Extremely intimidated, I nervously set to work. The first and most iconic would be RISD’s historical bicycle drawing, a mandatory part of the school’s application process since the 1950s: 16″x20″ of nothing but graphite and white paper, somehow incorporating a bicycle. Now, it had never occurred to me how difficult bicycles are to draw until that moment. Try it sometime. Remembering someone having told me that if you love what you do, it will show, I went with my gut instinct and drew a bunch of fish (which I inexplicably very much enjoy drawing), threw a bike in the background, and titled it “(Every woman needs a man) Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle”. Good enough!
The second drawing, again using only a pencil, had to cover two sides of a 16″x20″ sheet of paper. Still feeling like sea creatures were my best bet (see, combining art AND marine biology here) I decided to draw jellyfish on one side and women swimming on the other, and clip the paper such that each subject could, upon strategic folding, become the other. While definitely not as great as I had envisioned, the results nevertheless conveyed the idea, which at that point was all I could really have asked for.
Relieved to be done with the overwhelming simplicity of black and white, the third drawing allowed for any water-based medium, with one requirement: a combination of words and text. I decided to use watercolor pencils to fuse a self-portrait with a visualization of the languages I speak or have studied, and their roles in my mind. Thus began over 40 hours of grueling detail work as I drew, inked, painted, re-penciled, re-painted, and re-inked something like six different languages. Terrified to somehow ruin the portrait’s face after so much work, I left it very simple and am, as a result, very dissatisfied with it. However, IT IS WHAT IT IS, and it gave me the chance to use my favorite drawing mediums.
After over a week of hard work, the drawings were as good as they were going to get, despite my general feelings of inadequacy. I sent in my application, realizing with horror that RISD not only requests but requires that each drawing be folded in half- twice! Oh my god, the pain of essentially destroying your own artwork. Brutal. I waited until no one else was home to avoid my courage being dismantled by someone else shouting “NO!”, and stuffed them immediately in the envelope so I wouldn’t have to look at them. Then they were gone. Done. I had applied to RISD, and was prepared to receive a rejection letter.
With the application both off my checklist and off my mind, I caught a flight to India and went mountaineering in the Himalayas. I returned with an overwhelming feeling that everything in my life was suddenly right, suddenly in place, turned in the direction it was supposed to be going. And when I got home, this was waiting for me on the kitchen counter.
It is with a peculiar mixture of excitement and surprise that I will now be moving to Rhode Island in a mere six days, to partake in a Summer Foundation Studies program for transfer students for the majority of the summer. I’m moving east and officially becoming an art student to pursue my “crazy” yet very real dreams of becoming a photographer. After years of indecisive bafflement over which direction to take in life, the mild panic I used to experience while thinking about my own future has been replaced with enthusiastic determination. I couldn’t be more excited.