Art: the Map of Maturation

by Olivia W. (’16)

I’m the only freshman in my Spanish 5/6 class. I’m not entirely sure how that worked out, but it’s one of my favorite classes, probably for that reason. A few weeks ago, my teacher told me that I had matured. I asked her what she meant, and she replied that I’d been acting less like a freshman and more like a sophomore.

I didn’t notice the change. Well, at least not like I noticed the change from 6th grade or 7th grade. It’s hard for us as human beings to notice change within ourselves unless it’s quite drastic, but there are subtle clues from things we leave behind. I can map my growth from my art. I’m talking about my visual art, the little sketches I ink on the corners of school papers and homework. I can tell just from looking at some small creature doodled in the cranny of some paper what era of my life it came from. This most definitely is true with adult artists as well, but not as quickly.

So much happens in middle school. You are transported to a new world, one you were dimply aware of but not coherently understanding. I learned so much in those three years. I experienced a lot of things for the first time, and because of them I grew. As we get older, there are fewer things for us to newly experience, and we don’t grow as quickly. We may wise up or realize important things, but slowly, gradually. Human beings are always growing, always maturing, but I believe that teenagers and tweens are on a sharp curve of some sort, where everything is going terribly fast. It’s not a roller coaster of ups and downs; it is a roller coaster going the same direction as all life, just a hell of a lot steeper then the rest of the track.

I am a different person than the person I was last week. Something happened, something changed during that time that changed me. I’m not talking about a big thing, I’m talking about something that’s probably ordinary that’s happening to me for the first time. Maybe somebody said something, maybe something ripped or bloomed. I’ve watched my peers change into completely different people since the year started. Unfortunately, it’s not always for the better.

I’m so grateful for my art. I use art the way that people now use cave paintings, to see how far we’ve come. Without art, my younger self would be a complete stranger, a different person, an unrelated species. I can look at photographs from a year ago, and suddenly I remember what I was thinking then, what I was feeling as the camera froze that expression forever, and I can see how far I’ve gone form there. I can read old letters to people, postcards, essays, secret diaries or whatever, and I am amazed by what has changed. I can leaf through old sketchbooks, and sometimes I try to draw an updated version of whatever I find. I thank my art for letting me not lose the bets parts of myself.

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