Final CAF Post: My Creative Arts Fellowship

In the past few months, I’ve had the honor of conducting creative research through the Creative Arts Fellowship, getting to work alongside my peers with the guidance of Dr. Brett Say and my mentor, Melissa Catanese. I could not have asked for a more supportive group, who have inspired and helped me along the way, and am so grateful for all of Brett and Melissa’s guidance and assistance. 

Being able to center my attention on creative work through this fellowship was something I found really valuable. I think it’s difficult to have dedicated time and space for a project like this, even as an art major, and being able to do so within our little cohort community was really rewarding. I also am so appreciative that I was given an opportunity to do work on a topic personal to me. It’s both scary and empowering, to give space to and share my thoughts and struggles on diasporic identity. The intimacy of my research topic added a layer of anxiety to my project as I went through learning to be vulnerable, embracing emotion and cultural knowledge as valid, and trying to find my personal voice in a topic that deals with culture and humanity at large.

Throughout this time, I have learned a lot about how to conduct research. Having a self-guided long-term project was less straightforward than I expected, but I can say it’s also been that much more rewarding. Specifically, I learned a lot about being able to rework ideas and concepts, and how to experiment creatively. The process of learning by doing is something that has really shifted my perspective on what it means to do research. Research doesn’t necessarily have to be conclusion oriented, it is about experiencing and exploring, learning and immersing oneself in the process.  

I am reminded of a quote from my art history class: 

“At its best, this is what serious art practice is about: choosing the right questions and finding ways – visually, intellectually, emotionally – to explore them with viewers. It is not really about answering them. Often a successful investigation will not answer a single one, and instead raise new questions”

I think this is such a comforting and invigorating statement, that the end result isn’t to have an answer or conclusion to an initial question or goal but to come out with more questions. With my research topic on diasporic identity and connections between physical and emotional space, I think leaning into the open-ended nature of research is something necessary, and is something I will definitely hold onto throughout future work I do. I would love to continue my “Translations” series as something ongoing, and pursue more large projects in the future.

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