The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

Author

Mary Zynn

Mary Zynn has 6 articles published.

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Mary Zynn is a first year from Lancaster PA. She enjoys dance, painting, and writing. Her biggest inspirations are her pet rats, Desdemona and Ophelia, drag queens, and David Bowie.

Perspectives on Pagliaro Selz: The First Building in the First Year Village

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Visualization of one of the new first year buildings, which will include a gas fireplace in the common space. Photo Credit: GOucher College FMS

In the Fall of 2016, Pagliaro Selz Hall opened. This dorm is a first-year only building, and the first of three new buildings that will comprise the first-year village. The intentions behind the first-year village are to create a space for integrative learning, strengthen co-curricular community space, bring faculty back to live on campus, and help to better prepare students for the jobs of the future. This community of first-years is said to be a living-learning environment planned for interaction, with prominent communal areas for students to come together to cook, share, and learn.

“Goucher College’s focus on innovation extends beyond our classrooms and approach to learning and also encompasses student-life. That vision is reflected here in Pagliaro Selz Hall,” said President Bowen.

With this vision in mind, President José Antonio Bowen speaks about how the design features of Pagliaro Selz, the long hallways and distance to the bathrooms, the glass walls of the laundry room, and the increased speed of wifi in common rooms as compared to in rooms, are all measures intended to increase student interaction, prevent isolation, and ultimately increase first-year retention rates. Contrary to this objective, first-year retention rates have actually decreased since the implementation of Pagliaro Selz in the Fall of 2016. In the Fall of 2015, there were 82% returning first-years, 79% returning first years in the Fall of 2016, and 78% returning first years in the Fall of 2017.

Linda Barone, the Associate Director of Planning, Design, and Construction said in an interview, “The first year village [is] so central to Jose’s vision. And I think it really is going to make a huge difference for first year students coming in, in terms of creating community.” She discussed the amenities that will be in the first-year village, such as an outdoor fireplace, a rehearsal space, a gaming lounge, and a student success center.

While the first-year village aims to build community among students and ultimately increase first-year retention rates, student’s experiences with a first-years-only dorm give insight into the effectiveness of a first-year village and if Goucher was successful in its intentions.

The idea of a first-year village, with brand new buildings and facilities can be a major attraction to a prospective student. While touring Goucher, current first-years received mixed information on what their dorm situation would be for the 2017-2018 year. Some were told that the first-year village would be finished by the time they started at Goucher, others were told that all freshman would be living in PSelz, and some were told that P. Selz would only hold some freshman, while the rest would be housed elsewhere while construction of the first-year village continued. The last situation is what this year’s first-years actually got, although not what all freshmen were told when touring Goucher.

When asked about their experiences with living in Pagliaro Selz, first years currently living in P. Selz and current Sophomores who lived in P. Selz last year commented:

“My experience is unfair. I live in P. Selz, and my other friends live in air-conditioning-less buildings like Probst and Winslow. We are all paying the same for housing on campus, but some are stuck in buildings that get no A/C and are not taken care of.” -Brandon Rodriguez ‘21

“I think living in P. Selz as a freshman is incredibly isolating. It feels more like an apartment complex than a dorm facility. It feels really sterile and divided, there is definitely a lack of community. People in the Stimson buildings seem much more close knit and integrated into the campus as a whole. P. Selz is really cut off due to construction and everybody keeps to themselves.” -Natalie Simendinger ‘21

“It was mixed. It was nice to always have acquaintances around and the common rooms were really cozy. Problem was a lot of people did a shit job of keeping them clean. I also didn’t like how cut-off it felt from the rest of campus especially since pretty much all my friends were seniors and I had to go to wherever they were. It was nice to experience living in a newly designed residence hall but I definitely don’t miss it.” -Sophomore Communications Major

“I feel very lucky to have lived in P. Selz. It was certainly cool to be able to control my own air conditioning and to have a brand spankin’ new dorm room and furniture. I did find, however, that most of my friends that I made my first year ALL lived in P. Selz. It’s almost like a lot of those friendships were just out of convenience— you live down the hall from me, it’s easy to see you and hang out… I felt like I did not make ANY upperclassmen friends since all I did was chill in P. Selz. but I felt that I was missing out on experiences that other first years who DIDN’T live in P. Selz had— shitty dorms, older neighbors, and just SPACE from fellow first years.” -Kallie Blakelock ‘20

“I think it is a great place to have your first year at Goucher, being able to all be together and get to know each other while you go to class and commiserate with each other. There was definitely a culture of privilege and students not appreciating what they had within the freshman village last year, and well as this year and is something that I assume with continue into the future.” -Antonia Pettit ‘20

When asked about their experiences living in Pagliaro Selz last year, as compared to their living situation this year, current sophomores said:

“Now I live in Mary Fisher, and it’s pretty disgusting but it’s comfortable. I can’t explain it but it’s got a really cool vibe to it. It also helps that it’s right in the middle of campus which makes everything easily accessible.” -Sophomore Communications Major

“This year i lived in Stimson Probst. I LOVE Stimson. the rooms are more homey than P. Selz— The Stimson people also have a shared story. Everyone has this opinion that Stimson sucks, but once you live there, you realize that it is actually pretty cool. It is close to food, close to my parking spot, and has a plethora of age groups throughout. My friends did not live near me so i was forced to go over to their different dorm rooms which was good for me.” -Kallie Blakelock ‘20

When asked about a potential social divide among Goucher students created by Pagliaro Selz, there are conflicting views points. Some simply state that no social divide exists…

“I don’t think the social divide is really there.” Ramona Kamb ‘21

“Not really, they just happen to live somewhere else.” Dina Diani ’21

And others believe that the social divide is present and problematic…

“P. Selz is far from most buildings and it requires others to walk along the construction. P. Selz is for first-year students. Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are excluded from the

residential side of the building and it is not fair. But how will first-years create relationships with upper-level students if they [upperclassmen] can’t step foot in a residential common room without waiting for somebody to open the door?” -Brandon Rodriguez ‘21

“I think since P. Selz is a strictly freshman filled place it can be hard to mingle with other  classes. In Stimson there is more variety and it’s easier to find friends who are older. P. Selz has very limited options in terms of who you can become acquainted with.” Natalie Simenginer ‘21

“I absolutely think that there is a divide; before I even moved onto campus upperclassmen felt cheated out of the newer, nicer dorms that they typically worked for and now these brand new first years are just getting these amazing, “hotel like” dorms handed to them. The first years living in Frolicher or Stimson are definitely valid in their feelings in that they have been cheated out of something. They are all paying the same amount of money to live in extremely different living conditions.” -Antonia Pettit ‘20

When asked for their opinions on the up and coming first-year village, students had mixed feelings. Some believe it will be a mostly positive addition to the campus and community:

“I like the idea of the first year village because I hope that the new buildings will help create a community of first years that will be able to have more interactions with each other and build a stronger community that can grow past their time at Goucher.” -Antonia Pettit ’20

“Once there is a first year village, I feel first years will be brought together and be closer. At that point, all first years will live closely so there won’t be any physical separation” -Dina Diani ’21

“Once it’s completed I think the campus will flow better since construction will be out of the way. The construction is one of the biggest isolating factors by far. Hopefully it will create a community but also allow the incoming kids to explore campus with ease. I hope it also holds events and gatherings for different classes so there is some diversity for the freshman.” -Natalie Simendiger ‘21

While some students foresee major issues with the first-year village:

“Once the First-Year Village is complete, upper-level students will lose 1/4th of the student population. This means that first-years will probably have their own bubble. Most upper-level students may feel excluded and unable to enjoy everything that the first-year village has to offer. Yes, they will probably have access to the first floor. But the residential space will not be welcoming.” Brandon Rodriguez ‘21

“The first year village will be good for establishing a tight community with incoming freshman but I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of the money and effort put into the FYV should’ve been put into fixing the dingier parts of campus that the majority of the students live in. It feels like most of the school’s money is being spent on people who don’t go here yet.” -Sophomore Communications Major

“While I can see how in theory the first year village would be a good idea. In practice, though, I foresee big problems. If all of the first years live together – ALL OF THEM- it is very likely that they will spend most of their time in that complex and therefore not make friends with upperclassmen, which I think is crucial. they will get sick of each other, just like my friends and I did. They will grow together through their shared first experiences in this new chapter in their life— but part of that chapter is making older friends and being uncomfortable sometimes (I mean this in terms of meeting new people or living in NOT top quality dorm rooms). I think all dorms should be grade mixed. Sectioning them off will not do them good in the long run.” -Kallie Blakelock ‘20

While Pagliaro Selz and the first-year village may seem like a beneficial addition to the campus in theory, students’ personal experiences with the dorm say otherwise. Will the up and coming first-year village achieve the goals of increased interaction and development of a stronger community, or will it have the opposite effect, creating a more significant social divide between first-years and upperclassmen?

Restore the Night: Events

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Restore the Night. Photo Credit: Sarojini Schutt (’18) and Maggie Ratrie (’18)

Events

Friday: To begin the campaign, a resource fair was held on Friday, which included off-campus organizations with resources for survivors, allies, and information on how to get involved. Friday night’s event was similar to the original Take Back the Night. This event was for survivors and their support systems, and provided a safe space for survivors to speak and share their stories. When entering the event, a question was proposed that people could contribute to, and there was a conversation about Goucher’s Sexual Conduct Survey. A speaker from Know Your IX, a D.C. organization, came to the event to talk about Title IX as well as survivor and activism work.

Saturday: A talkback about the zine, “Hear My Voice”, organized by Jamison Curcio (’19) and Elaine Millas (’20), was held. The talkback discussed how the zine went and the reactions is received on campus.

Sunday: A brunch was held for survivors, and afterwards there was a self care through movement workshop for the survivors, led by Jamison Curcio. This workshop explored movement as a form of healing.

Tuesday: Lydell Hills (’18) held a masculinity workshop, for male identifying people. This workshop aimed to break down the masks of masculinity that people live in, and discussed what to do to combat the status quo. This workshop targeted unhealthy vs. healthy masculinity and encouraged male identifying people to spread and normalize this concept.

Tuesday night, was the event Sex in the Dark: Clap Back at the Clap. This event aimed to spread awareness and knowledge about STI’s, with a goal of de-stigmatizing STI’s.

Wednesday: A Rape Culture 101 event was held and led by Summer Torres, the assistant director of the CREI. The same day, a Healthy Relationship Culture conversation was held, where Goucher’s hook-up culture was discussed. This event created a space for students to voice opinions and vent about the hookup culture at Goucher and why it is the way it is. This event also provided a space for people that don’t call themselves survivors or victims to talk about what they are going through. Later, an LGBTQIA survivor comfort space was provided.

Thursday: On the final day of the campaign, an activism teach in, led by speakers from Know Your IX, was held. This teach in provided ways to be an activist with all this information, and spoke about the different levels of activism. Restore the Night ended with a community open mic, which gave a space for people to share poetry, or any form of artistic expression, regarding what they are going through.

Goucher Students Organize Restore the Night

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Restore the Night is a weeklong campaign of events and workshops that intend to raise awareness, create a sense of solidarity, and ultimately put an end to sexual and gender-based violence. While this campaign’s ideology is derived from the worldwide campaign Take Back the Night, it is not the same. Take Back the Night events have been held on Goucher’s campus in past years. The event consisted of a single-night gathering where survivors’ stories were shared. With only a single night to focus on such an emotionally charged topic, it can often be a very heavy, upsetting and somber night. Sarojini Schutt (’18) and Maggie Ratrie (’18) wanted to do something different, and organized a campaign addressing different aspects of the multifaceted topic of sexual and gender-based violence through different events over the span of a week.

Restore the Night differs from Take Back the Night in regards to the focus on restorative justice – an approach that aims to mend the harm caused by a crime, emphasizing accountability of offenders and healing for victims. With Schutt’s senior Peace Studies capstone project, her focus of study is restorative justice in the survivor community, while Ratrie’s senior thesis holds a focus on restorative justice on the side of the perpetrator. Schutt is hopeful that this method will take hold, saying that, “When I leave Goucher, I want people to understand that restorative justice is just one of many methods that can and will work on this campus.” Another goal of Restore the Night is to create a more inclusive space than that of Take Back The Night.

Concerning the new goal, Schutt said “[At Take Back the Night] there never feels like a space for other stories, of people who don’t identify as survivors, people that know something happened to them but are not really able to call themselves a victim or a survivor. This week-long campaign is giving a space for so many people to jump into the conversation, whether it is just a guy that doesn’t know what his role is, or a nonbinary person that doesn’t feel comfortable labeling themselves as a survivor because the term is so feminine.”

Schutt also hopes to dispel any myths surrounding sexual violence and rape culture, perpetuated through certain language and dialogue, stating, “Take Back the Night doesn’t shatter the myths enough for me, and does not include the multitudes of stories that need to be told.”

The events held over the week-long campaign share an emphasis on community. Ratrie hopes for more of a community effort, rather than one person doing all the work or feeling alone in the matter, stating, “Injustice anywhere in our community affects all of us.”

Photo credit: Sarojini Schutt (’18) and Maggie Ratrie (’18)

Schutt believes it “takes a community to be able to say enough,” and so we must work together in support of each other to put an end to sexual and gender-based violence. Every community member holds responsibility in rape culture, and has a hand in being able to demolish it.” As Schutt aptly described it, Restore the Night is “a place to understand what your role is.” Additionally, Schutt said that Restore the Night is “about raising awareness of power and privilege” among different groups and individuals within a community.

 

Through months of hard work and emotional labor that began in October, Restore the Night has finally become a reality. Sarojini Schutt and Maggie Ratrie are the main organizers of the campaign, but mentioned they could not have done it without the work of Lydell Hills, Kate Erickson, Jamison Curcio and Elaine Millas. This is the first time this campaign was held at Goucher but Schutt proclaims, “This is the first Restore the Night, and hopefully not the last.”

Problems Within the #MeToo Movement

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In 2006, Tarana Burke founded the Me Too movement. The movement aims to create a community and support system for sexual assault survivors. This platform allows for survivors to share their stories in the public eye, accompanied by the hashtag #MeToo, with the purpose of informing the public and empowering survivors. The sharing of these stories allows for the public to be informed of the magnitude of the issue, while recognizing the personal impact it has on individuals, in order to begin an entire societal shift to change the current state of the sexual violence epidemic. In addition to informing the public, the movement allows for survivors to recognize they are not alone, feel more comfortable coming forward with their own stories, feel empowered to break their silence, and ultimately find a starting point to begin the healing process. Tarana’s ideology behind the movement is “empowerment through empathy”.

In October of last year, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Within 24 hours, there were over 12 million posts and interactions involving #MeToo. To the millions involving themselves with the trending hashtag, Alyssa Milano had seemingly started a movement. What was ignored was Tarana Burke’s movement, under the same name and ideology, that had been founded ten years earlier. Burke was shocked to see Milano’s tweet and the explosion of #MeToo, stating, “Initially I panicked. I felt a sense of dread, because something that was part of my life’s work was going to be co-opted and taken from me and used for a purpose that I hadn’t originally intended” (qtd. in Garcia). The widespread popularity of this movement being initiated by a white, famous woman, without the credit given to the actual founder, a black woman, creates an inherent issue with the hashtag that leaves women of color out of the conversation, while the spotlight is held over famous, white cisgender women.

Another group that remains marginalized by the #MeToo movement are trans and non-binary identifying people. First, the language involved in the movement, with the usage of “women and femme”, centers the conversation around the gender binary. This frames the dialogue as a cis men vs. cis women issue, leaving trans/non-binary people out of the conversation. Trans women are still not viewed as women in many circles of society, and as a result, their stories are often invalidated, pushed to the side and ignored. Last year, on RuPaul’s podcast Whats The Tee?, Rose McGowan, actress, Weinstein accuser and an active member in the #MeToo movement, said, “They [trans women] assume because they felt like a woman on the inside . . . That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman.” If people with power involved in the movement perpetuate the idea of trans women not being women and invalidating their experiences, this idea will also embed itself in the movement. “Welcome to womanhood” is a phrase trans women are often met with when they come forward with their experiences of sexual violence (Mamone), rather than being met with support, as cis women are. Many trans and GNC people do not feel comfortable participating in this conversation because of the fear of the lack of support they will receive, or even backlash. They also don’t feel comfortable asserting themselves into the conversation because they do not see themselves represented in the conversation. No trans/gender nonconforming people were featured in Time Magazine’s profile of the #MeToo “SilenceBreakers” last year.

The #MeToo movement ignores the fact that trans and gender non-conforming people experience the greatest amount of violence due to gender. According the the National Center for Transgender Equality, “47 percent of trans people say they experienced sexual violence sometime during their lives” (qtd. in Talusan). Not only are trans people at risk of unwanted sexual advances, but they are also at greater risk of physical assault and murder because of their identity. Intersectional journalist, Meredith Talusan, discusses how the MeToo hashtag only aims to help cis women, as the experiences of trans and GNC people are not brought to the forefront, even though they experience the greatest oppression. Talusan states, ”We continue to be footnotes in discussions of gender-based violence, even when we’re the most affected.”

While the #MeToo movement leaves women of color, trans women and non-binary people out of the conversation, the structure and goal of the conversation itself may not even help to make a change within our society. Although the movement absolutely has the potential to bring a sense of solidarity to victims, an issue lies with the movement’s goal of raising awareness of the problem. Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki describes this issue:

“”Me, too” is framed as an attempt to convince people that sexual violence is a problem. It implies that sexual violence is pervasive simply because (mostly) men don’t understand that it’s so prevalent, which I don’t believe. It reinforces the idea
that if there are enough numbers on your side, then we should believe and listen. One victim should be enough for us to care. One survivor is already too many. Listening and believing survivors is great, but it should be the first step of many in doing our part to end sexual violence. We need everyone to participate in raising awareness and taking concrete actions against rape culture, rather than leaving it to survivors to do the heavy lifting.”

The #MeToo movement places the work on the survivors; relying on them to come forward with their stories in order to initiate change in society. The problem lies within the abusers, and we must target them directly to initiate change. We must also work to put the most marginalized groups, women of color, trans and gender non-conforming people, at the forefront of the

conversation. Problems will exist within any movement, and it is important to examine and address the issues head-on in order to create a more inclusive, intersectional, and successful movement.

Feature Image Credit: Google Images

Freshmen Perspectives: Homesickness

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“As humans, we instinctively crave familiarity, security and some degree of a routine. All of this disappears when you are thrown into college: a completely new, unpredictable and ever-changing situation.” Photo Credit: semionbarbershop.com

As you, a first-year, enter your first spring semester of college after a month-and-a-half long winter break, a familiar wave of discomfort and longing for home may wash over you. This unease and anxiety can be summed up in one word: homesickness. In a paper co-written by Chris Thurber and Edward Walton, published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.” Even though homesickness stems from being away from home, it isn’t always directly about missing your house or the physical aspects of home. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health explains, ”You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive.” When moving to a new environment, one can easily get overwhelmed because quite suddenly, nothing is familiar anymore. As humans, we instinctively crave familiarity, security and some degree of a routine. All of this disappears when you are thrown into college: a completely new, unpredictable and ever-changing situation. Homesickness is more of a spectrum and something that comes in waves. Homesickness is not black and white. Every individual experiences it to a different degree, at different times, and in different ways. The following quotes are from several first-year students at Goucher regarding homesickness during their first semesters of college:
“In the beginning of the first semester there was so much going on I wasn’t really able to focus my energy on missing home, and it was all so surreal I think my brain didn’t really believe that this was my new home. I would say it took until [the] end of September or October for me to get really homesick, and it was pretty bad.” -Emma Needham (’21)
“During the first few days, I was excited rather than homesick. There was a lot to get used to. But then as we progressed into October, I felt really homesick. I began counting the days until I could go back home and I felt isolated from everything I have known. I thought of home everyday and tried to find anything that could connect me back to home.” -Dina Diani (’21)
“About halfway through the beginning of the first semester I got pretty homesick. I was just missing the familiarity and the comfort of home and I was missing a lot of the good food that I ate back home. I miss my family, but I think just like the comfort and easiness of living back at home was getting to me because everything was so new and to some degree difficult and hard for me.” -Ramona Kamb (’21)
“I think I felt especially off because break was so long-I had gotten so comfortable at home back into my old routines and habits that it felt actually kind of sad to come back here. I was excited to see my friends and all but I for sure was missing home last week.” -Emma Needham (’21)
“Because of the first semester acting as kind of a trial for me, this semester is bringing a lot of new excitement with different classes and a more rigorous schedule so I’m not as homesick as before. But I have my moments where I miss the mountains and my family and my boyfriend.” – Tiana Ozolins (’21)
“Things feel much more normal and natural this semester.” -Esther Gordon (’21)
“I mean, the second semester only just started but I know I was homesick more first semester because again everything was so new and I really wasn’t adjusted to this new chapter of my life in college living. Now that I am more comfortable around my peers and that I know people it’s gotten a lot easier and I definitely feel less homesick.” -Ramona Lamb (’21)
Evidently, everyone has had a different experience. Even though current freshmen are now more accustomed to the college lifestyle, having lived it for a whole semester, returning from the long winter break can bring back feelings of homesickness, and this is normal. The goal here is to provide freshmen with different personal accounts from their peers, so they can hopefully to find aspects that may resonate with them, and ultimately know that they are not alone on this journey.

How to Infuse Your Life with Creativity

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Day after day, you perform your quotidian tasks mindlessly, without reason or inquiry.

While you walk the same paths to get to that same place to see the same people to learn the same things, you continually daydream about more exciting times and places. As you daydream and contemplate the existential questions floating in your head, the uncomfortable empty space between your ribs expands. You hopelessly search for a way to fill this void, while a solution to this hopelessness and monotony has existed all along. This solution is creative engagement.

“In addition to benefiting your in education and career, art can help to facilitate your happiness and well being.” Photo Credit: Google Images.

Reflect on the role art played in your childhood. You colored, painted, and crafted for the sheer joy of it. You approached the day with wonder in your eyes. The world was your playground. The unfortunate truth is that society and school has since attempted, and most likely succeeded, to milk you dry of your creativity. Most of us lead lives involving minimal creativity. Starting in middle school, art is entirely separate from the “essential” classes, like math, science, languages, and English. Because art is not prioritized by the education system, many students view art as useless and don’t take any classes. Many students also believe they are inherently unartistic, and therefore do not take classes. The most common perception of art is what is displayed in museums, and consequently, art is seen as unachievable for the normal person— destined for the few that are born with artistic talent. On the other hand, individuals who are talented and enjoy art are steered away from pursing it because of the notion of the “starving artist”. For these reasons, most people avoid art both in and out of school.

We fail to recognize the variety of art forms that exist, and how many of these forms are achievable to the everyday person. We don’t recognize that art has the potential to fulfill us, to assist us academically, to give us new perspectives, to de-stress us, and to assist us in future careers. We are not cognizant of the impact the implementation of creativity can have on every aspect of our daily lives. All of us can get so much out of art, and for this reason, we must reclaim the creativity we once had as children. Now is the time to do it. As college students, we are exploring and diving into different subjects, living on our own for the first time, and preparing to enter a career; art and creativity can assist us along this journey.

The first benefit when integrating creativity into your life is the academic advantage. Using art processes develops specific skills sets that can assist you in education. Art educator, Beth Dickson, highlights the skills you can achieve through art, including “problem identification, solution design, implementation and experimentation, and processes of reflection in order to achieve their outcomes” (71). Personally, creative engagement has given me skill sets that I couldn’t acquire by any other method. I allow myself to experiment and think in more abstract ways which results in more original creations in essays and projects. Thinking out of the box makes problem solving an easier task. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner, so integrating art into my studying facilitates my understanding of ideas learned in class.

Creativity is also a sought after ability in most careers. The aforementioned skills can be carried into one’s career. Employers seek out people who can apply these skills, because “‘creativity’ is synonymous with the innovation necessary for economic growth” (Dickson 57). If a company wants to grow, they must have people that can think creatively and develop new, never before seen ideas. Without creative employees, companies would keep producing the same things, over and over. Creative and innovative minds help the companies to grow. Through nurturing your creativity and obtaining these skills, you will be at an advantage and therefore be sought after by employers.

In addition to benefiting your in education and career, art can help to facilitate your happiness and well being. Releasing repressed emotions through art works to calm and distress your body and mind. Making art allows you to be fully present in the moment, keeping your mind active and awake, and making you more mindful. Art enlightens you with new perspectives on life. Art intensifies our feelings, thoughts, ideas and imagination. Art causes us to admire our everyday life. Art provokes conversation, brings communities together and encourages solidarity. Art preserves history while encouraging change (Howard 2).

Art and creativity contribute countless benefits to your life, and—in the long run—will allow you to lead a happier, more fulfilling life. Don’t have the time or money to take an art class? There are small changes you can apply to your life that can make a large impact, without costing you extra money, stress or time.

First, you must realize you are an artist. Relocate the inner artist that was present when you were a child. You colored because it was an enjoyable activity, not because you were good at it or had the intention of putting your coloring page in a museum. People avoid making art because of the fear of judgement and the fear of their art “not being good enough.” They believe that the function of the artist is to produce likable and wanted art. They believe that the artist is few and far between, as they must be someone with talent and training. This notion is dangerous because art is fundamental for any and every human. Many don’t realize that everyone can, and should, be an artist. Art, in any form, creates an emotional outlet. Art assists you in expressing and releasing emotions when traditional conversation can’t. If you make art, you are an artist— regardless of the quality of the product.

Many believe the notion of “everyone is an artist” makes art less valuable. In an interview, artist Joesph Beuys was asked, “A well-known saying of yours asserts that ‘Every man is an artist.’ If every man is an artist, then why have art academies and art professors at all?” To which Beuys answered, “To be sure, ‘every man is an artist’ in a general sense: one must be an artist for example, to create self-determination. But at a certain stage in his life every man becomes a specialist in a certain way; one studies chemistry, another sculpture or painting, a third becomes doctor, and so on. For this reason we understandably need special schools” (255). Beuys understands that humans are creative beings by nature, and therefore can engage creatively in some capacity, but not necessarily to the capacity of art becoming one’s entire life. Art can be a part of your life, without it being your whole life. You can create art without aesthetic value and without the intention of producing it. Nevertheless, you are still an artist because you are creating art.

Make art. Figure out what works for you. There are so many different forms of art to explore that can allow express yourself in ways that stand out from then the monotony of everyday life. When creating art, focus on the process rather than the product. The actual process of creating art is often ignored. Professor Ellen Langer further explains, “Unfortunately, our culture leads us to evaluate almost everything we do…We look at the end product and pass judgment on whether is it ‘creative’ or not without regard for whether a mindfully engaged individual created it. We distinguish the product from the experience of creating it” (5). As a result of society focusing on the final product, people do not make art for the fear of judgement. The artist’s personal experience in creating the art is what where the importance should be focused, because the process is what provides the artist with personal benefits. The process is cathartic, enjoyable, makes us more creative, and allows us to be fully present and mindful.

Be mindful. Realize that you already use creative processes everyday. Take notice when you are in situations that require creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Find ways you can you expand on these situations and use creative processes more often. Be mindful of your everyday surroundings. We get so caught up in the monotony of our daily schedules that our surroundings become boring. We become blind to what is going on around us. If you look at everyday things with a creative, fresh perspective, life will become more intriguing and exciting. As Joseph Beuys once said, “Even the act of peeling a potato can be an artistic act if it is consciously done.”

Works Cited

Adriani, Götz, Winfried Konnertz, and Karin Thomas. Joseph Beuys, Life and Works.

Woodbury, N.Y: Barron’s, 1979. Print.

Cannatella, Howard. Why We Need Arts Education : Revealing the Common Good: Making

Theory and Practice Work Better. Sense Publishers, 2015. EBSCOhost, goucher.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1057255&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Dickson, Beth. Education and the Arts. Dunedin Academic Press

Limited, 2011. Policy and Practice in Education. EBSCOhost, goucher.idm.oclc.org/ login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspxdirect=true&db=nlebk&AN=380339&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Langer, Ellen J. On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity. Ballantine Books, 2006.

 

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