It has been a while since I posted anything related to my art practice or, for that matter, art in general. But now, after a slightly grueling 4-week Basic Drawing class in an engineering university halfway around the world, I have come back to post reflections about, not only the class, but my practice and art in general.
It has been a long 6-months away from Singapore, the city that has been my home for the past 21 years. Even though the years have been speckled with weeks and months of international travel both in an out of Asia, I have never stayed away from home this long for anything. But this experience has truly been an eye-opener in so many ways (Although it sounds like I am not coming back to the States, I actually am…). As most of you readers and friends might know, I am taking the road less traveled – Majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Minoring in Art and Design (Studio) at Purdue University, and it is not a path for the faint of heart. The past semester has been challenging in countless ways, from diving into the deep end of the STEM field after not using much of my brain during the 2 years of military service, to scurrying around getting artworks together for a small exhibition in Chicago, to choosing to extend my stay here to embark on the path that I came here for to begin with.
These last 4-weeks have been nothing but art, television and sleep. Everyday, would follow the same cycle, with me almost clocking in 6-hours of art each and everyday, whether it be personal projects or those assigned for the course. As long as the hours may have been, opened my eyes to what I really wanted to do for the rest of my college years. This intense 4-week Basic Drawing class allowed me to realise that I had the capability to draw like I only did almost 7 years ago. It showed that I actually could, very literally, draw ( even though I still hate the idea of drawing still life in all its facets). But let it be known to all readers, that NO ARTIST likes the stereotype of “Oh! You’re an artist so you must draw really well!”. It is not the concept of drawing or the skill of drawing that makes an artist an artist. It is the choice of media and how they use that medium that these group of people use to convey their ideas, concepts and intellectual rhetoric that makes them “artists”. Skill is only a fraction of the profession, just like how talent is not everything.
Only towards the end of the course did it hit me that I had so many opportunities and resources that I was not making use of, that I did not take advantage of, not only for Engineering, but for Art as well. At first, I though a Minor in Art and Design was limited to the courses listed in the “plan of study” that was given to us. That standard sheet everyone is given. A one plan fits all schematic. But after speaking to various people, advisors, in and out of the College of Engineering and my drawing instructor, I found out that there was way more flexibility that I thought. Now I hope to be someone set apart from the rest, while fulfilling my dream of becoming a Mechanical Engineer.
In this short last week, I am determined to do art for art sake.
Let this be a reminder to myself and an encouragement to all who want to go down the path less traveled that it is possible to do want you want to do no matter how impractical it may sound. As of now, I hope to appeal to do a Graduate class in Installations and Criticism (Yes, you read right – Graduate class, to fulfill a Minor for my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering) and I hope that, by grace and His will, it may come into fruition.
In my next post, I will show you a gallery of the works that I have done throughout the month and hopefully give those doing art simultaneously with the STEM fields some encouragement to pursue their passions no matter how arduous the journey may be.