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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Ever since my catharsis and subsequent realization regarding who I am and what I want to do, I’ve felt like a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders. A sense of freedom and choice, a kind of bravery I’ve never had before. A kind of “why not?” attitude towards the things I naturally gravitate towards. Before, when any kind of art related opportunities come up, which happens a lot at Columbia and NYC, my heart would long for it as my brain tells me no, it won’t be of any use to me. But things are different now. I’ve finally come to terms with it: I’m an artist, dammit, and the world is just going to have to deal with that.

So, as part of embracing my creative side again, a side of me that I’ve sorely missed, I’ve finally begun to take advantage of all the wonderful art opportunities offered by this great university in this great city. When I received an e-mail from Columbia about some free, non-credit workshops offered by Columbia’s Graduate School of the Arts, I immediately jumped on it and signed up for a couple of visual art related ones. One of the workshops is called Art/text, which examines the interplay between art and text in graphic novels and graphic short stories. Run by 2 graduate students, a fiction writer and an artist, the workshop will also help the students create their own graphic short story. How cool is that? Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I got an e-mail saying that I got into the workshop.

The first session was held last Friday. I walked into a small seminar room in Dodge, the arts building at Columbia. There were about 10 people there, in addition to the 2 workshop leaders. I was happy to find out that we had a really diverse group; our majors ranged from Biology to Statistics to East Asian Languages and Cultures. After introductions, we began looking at a few samples of graphic novels/short stories, including a chapter from Persepolis, which I enjoyed tremendously and would like to read more of.

After discussing these works, we were given a creative assignment. Copies of lithographs of things like classical architecture, natural scenes, geometric shape, and other random objects. We had to cut out one or more image and glue it to a piece of paper, and add to it and fill in the rest of the paper with our own drawings using a Sharpie marker. I ended up picking a figure of several hands pulling on interconnected ropes, as something one would see in a physics textbook. It was such a fun little exercise, and I was quite happy with my finished product: a dreamscape of children flying over a meadow, along with other things related to flight, including a flying hot dog and a blimp.

It had been so long since I was in any sort of art class, and I had nearly forgotten what it felt like to be sitting in a classroom but feeling so completely at ease and happy to be doing what I was doing. It made me so happy and excited about art again. I’ve already begun brainstorming and sketching some frames for my graphic short story, which will recount one of my favorite childhood memories.

This week we’ll be going to Butler Library, not to study but to go to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library to look at the collection of works by Edward Gorey that’s been donated to Columbia just this past May. Definitely looking forward to that!


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