Whack, whoosh, thwack.

In tennis, there are a multitude of strokes and their subsequent derivatives. The ground stroke is what most people probably visualize when thinking about tennis. In its essence, a good ground stroke is comprised of a back-swing, impact, follow-through, and footwork. In W. Timothy Gallwey’s book, The Inner Game of Tennis, Gallwey outlines critical focal points players should pay attention to during their follow-through.

“Where does your racket finish? In what direction? What has happened to the face of the racket since the impact? Is there any hesitancy or resistance experienced during the follow-through?”

These questions, when properly answered, compose a diligent follow-through and thus precludes a player from hearing the mortifying thwack of a ball torpedoing into the net strap. A follow-through provides your body full momentum and ensures you work through the entire contact rather than quitting at what seems like an instantaneous release point. As Gallwey delves into his guide to the mental side of peak performance, many of his insights remain relevant beyond the scope of tennis. Just as the net strap checks a player’s commitment to their stroke, our daily environment checks our intentions and commitment.

In an effort to clarify the relationship of my personal goals and creative arts responsibilities, I want to practice and enact effective Gantt charts. A derivative of bar charts, Gantt charts illustrate a project schedule and illuminates the dependencies between activities and time. Due to COVID-19, my project objects have changed, so a commitment to my altered intentions will be carefully planned.

The Creative Arts Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to meet inspiring, creative, college students who have their own unique artistic niche and local events. This cohort of students, constantly expanding their art skills while pursuing careers vastly different than my science dominated path, introduces new avenues to explore the rich cultural hub that is Pittsburgh. Interacting with experts and learning from peers who received extensive training is valuable and rare. While we share our insights, there is also a sense of community among the group. Our interdisciplinary collaboration within the creative process provokes collaboration and broadens artistic perspective while endorsing vulnerability and yielding accountability.

Completing the first draft of a script, creating a prototype of a display, or painting a visual might be the bare minimum outlined in our proposals, but these are not the instantaneous release points we thought they would be. In our fast-paced society, the distractions and obstacles can be overwhelming, but interdisciplinary collaboration and strong mentor-ship ensures a steady follow-through in our promises and nurtures new ambitions.

Luckily, the fellowship manifested in a COVID-19 environment, but there are still insurmountable obstacles. Most of my work was supposed to take place in the Virtual Media Lab (VML) tucked away on the 4th floor of the Cathedral of Learning. The VML and on campus open collaborative space on campus, containing free creative material and peers to bounce ideas off of, are unfortunately unavailable. Walking through the lab and seeing random people working on their individual projects while I searched for my seat was a memory I cherished from the course, and in these isolating times the the presence of other makers is what I miss the most.

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