“I’m terrified of majoring in art.” These were the words I overheard from a prospective student while serving as an orientation leader at this year’s NYU admitted students event, Weekend on the Square. Though I didn’t hear the entire conversation, I can probably tell you how it panned out.
Our society is so driven by capitalism, that any field which is deemed unprofitable is subsequently discouraged. Admittedly, I have fallen victim to the desire to lean towards that which is profitable. As a result, until my decision to pursue my art at the tertiary level, I had never before experienced such self-doubt. During the earlier part of this year, the doubt festered increasingly and was eating me alive, finally manifesting itself in the thought of changing my major. I feared for many reasons that my pursuit of art would lead me down an unsuccessful career path. Because of the stigma surrounding art, that it is simply a mode of creative expression, and the general ignorance about the cultural and social value of the field, I almost drove myself to making what probably would’ve been the biggest mistake of my life.
Growing up in an academic environment that taught art as a field that only serves as an outlet for creative expression left me a little unexposed to its greater significance. Coming to New York, and being exposed to a different art culture, allowed me to develop as a creative and conceptual thinker, as I learned more about what it truly meant to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art. Today, I have never felt more confident about the field that I have chosen to pursue. Undoubtedly, it is a field that has much to contribute with regards to our social and cultural issues, areas which society fights to find answers for. Not only does art suggest answers, in my belief, it is also a prime field of innovation and inquiry in our society. At this point, I have become incredibly driven to contribute to generating a stronger appreciation for art among the members of society, and especially those of the Jamaican society.
As I grow as an artist, in conjunction with the work in my major, I strive to engage in thought provoking discussions with like-minded individuals who seek to promote art as a process of inquiry and dispel the belief that it is simply a leisurely activity. For the benefit of my own artistic and professional development, I seek a more in-depth awareness of all the ways in which Visual Arts implicates various fields in academia and in contemporary life. As a result, I would be better able to contribute to the ongoing conversation about the philosophical value of visual art, and about the ways in which, we as emerging artists and art enthusiasts can influence different members of society to appreciate the critical aspect of art making and its greater cultural significance. Artists have a great deal to contribute to our society, but we have to be willing to have the difficult conversations where we change people’s views about art. I am determined, as one who is passionate about the field, to have these conversations. The knowledge garnered from the exploration and discovery that took place during my freshman year has motivated me to continue my pursuit of my true artistic potential and to share my experience, while raising awareness about the insufficient appreciation for the artistic field. It is my hope that I will contribute significantly to the eventual shift in people’s perception of art, thereby allowing them to truly comprehend the significance of art in our world.
These days, I think conceptually and critically about any and every issue under the sun. If this is how my mind works after only one year, I can only imagine what the next three years will bring. Undoubtedly, becoming an artist is terrifying, and quite possibly my greatest fear. But this is what I want to pursue. I’m sure of it. And looking back, to that terrified prospective freshman, I would’ve said, take a leap of faith, because art can open up a world of possibilities that would otherwise remain undiscovered.
“Maybe the thing you’re most scared of is exactly what you should do.” -unknown.