Portals to the Past and Future: My Creative Arts Fellowship

Working on my Creative Arts Fellowship project for the past 8 months has not only strengthened my confidence as an artist but also restructured my view of the significance of creativity and curiosity in our lives. This fellowship granted me the opportunity and space to recognize how the arts and lived experiences can play powerful roles within a larger community. Since my visual work is typically introspective in nature and my project was largely inspired by my time spent in 2020 drawing alone in my childhood bedroom, I am prone to isolate my work from broader contexts. I often feel my art is a journey I have to pursue alone. The Creative Arts Fellowship showed me just how impactful and beautiful collaboration can be, all the while strengthening my ability to communicate my work with others and using feedback to clarify my vision.

Though my fellowship project has not yet ended and I’m looking forward to exhibition activities, I’ve enjoyed reflecting upon where my work first started and the process. When I received the Creative Arts Fellowship, I didn’t realize the extent of the relationships and community that would come with it. In the heavily remote environment of the Spring 2021 semester, I cherished the moments our cohort would gush about our projects and what creative endeavors were exciting us at the moment. Our meetings, though held on Zoom, gave me the chance to share my artistic thought process and learn from the experiences of others in vastly different fields. Each week I looked forward to discussing our favorite movies, new techniques, or what we drew inspiration from recently. After a year of drawing and painting in my room, the Creative Arts Fellowship challenged my isolated approach to art making and illuminated the power found in sharing it with others. 

I also enjoy looking back at my work from a visual standpoint as I use the past to remind me of how far I’ve come. As I was moving this past week, my parents brought me a few items from my childhood bedroom to use in my new place. While unpacking I found this old artist’s book about horses from when I was a kid! It was such a wonderful discovery and made my heart swell to think about still pursuing a project today, years later, that my younger self enjoyed too.

…compared to my digital project CAF project drafts today!

Working with my cohort, my mentor, and our fellowship director Brett Say pushed me to identify structure and routine in my artistic process. The collaboration and discussion posts strengthened my approach to this project by granting space to reflect on my creative inquiries and choices. The longevity of the Creative Arts Fellowship was a new endeavor for me, so documenting my thoughts and ideas through the months kept me on track and stimulated deeper insight into my visual exploration. Through meditative writing, critical readings, and journal prompts provided by my mentor, I composed a vision for my project in both words and sketches. These were different additions to my process which helped me grow new creative muscles and investigate my priorities and goals as an artist. I learned more about my brain over the past months, becoming familiar with what excites it, what circumstances I work best under, when to take breaks or pivot to a new task. Even small details like what hours of the day yield the best creative results were valuable additions to my identity and future ventures.

The Creative Arts Fellowship gave me the opportunity to explore and nurture my creativity, learning how it can situate in academic and interpersonal contexts. Through guided workshops, guest speakers, and cohort group meetings, I practiced communication with the dual lens of artist and student. I learned that the differences between these two roles do not have to be so distinct. Instead, I can use my curiosity and imagination to restructure problem solving and reimagine communication. In any future endeavor I pursue, such as a career in education, as a player on a new Ultimate Frisbee team, or as an independent illustrator, I look forward to applying the knowledge and experience I learned through this incredible fellowship.

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