Intellectualism in Creative Writing by Leela Sriram

Creative Writing has been taking trips to the De Young since before I came to CW. After two years in person and one online, I have started to appreciate the smell of paint and hand sanitizer hung near the exit of each exhibition. I have fallen in love with wandering around each of the cream and maroon colored rooms with my heavy shoes clunking on the polished hardwood floors. 

The De Young is a quintessential aspect of the Creative Writing experience because all kinds of visual and performing arts are influential to the pieces we as writers create. Without learning the technical skills of other forms of art such as film and fine arts, CW would not be as well rounded. My knowledge of different forms of painting styles throughout history has heavily influenced my writing through imagery. A painting is a story told through texture, color, and subject matter. 

The last time CW went on an excursion to the De Young, we visited the Faith Ringgold exhibit titled American People. This series of interdisciplinary fine arts including textiles and abstract paintings explored the dynamics of communal relationships during the civil rights movement. Her use of color and texture in her quilts and paintings immediately made me want to sit down on one of the vinyl benches in the center of the exhibit and write a poem on my relationship with my community. While I have always had a certain sense of distaste for the Art Girl cliche, the De Young has always been an inspiration for me, artistically. When I wander around the museum, I feel like I am walking through time. Every sculpture, painting, textile, has a unique take on the world from when it was made. This will always cause me to ponder how I fit into the world, and how my art can touch on my perspective on society. 

While I do sometimes hate to walk around museums with my hand pressed on my chin in a thinker position, I believe this is excusable in the De Young.

Revelations, by Emily Kozhina

A few days ago, the Creative Writing department went to the DeYoung Museum to visit
the Revelations: Art from the African American South exhibit. A large majority of the art was done with few resources, since African Americans didn’t have much, but still wanted to express themselves and their thoughts through what they did have. Sculpture materials ranged from metal, to tree roots, to cow skeletons, and delicate canvases were replaced with blocks of wood.

Every piece had kept a part of its creator, whether it be uneven stitches done by tired hands, or a shaky pencil line, smudged by a dragging arm. To be reminded that people made these pieces, to see something that couldn’t be remade, was refreshing.

There was one significant moment described to me that I believe will be hard to erase
from memory. My class group was kneeling on the floor, legs weak, eyes looking up at the quilts pinned onto the walls around us, different fabrics unevenly stitched together. Our docent told us of a woman who once visited this exhibit. The moment the woman had walked into this room, she grew emotional looking at the quilts. When asked why, she explained how when she was a small child, she helped her grandmother and aunts stitch these, and to see them in a museum was a vision she never could have imagined.

I pondered after the telling of this story, and looked at the quilts. I saw jagged lines and
uneven squares, and however humanely beautiful I found its imperfections, I didn’t feel myself well with tears. The differences between the woman and I were certainly clear. We grew up with different lives, families, memories. It wasn’t surprising when two people reacted to something differently. However, the more I thought, the more I understood the woman. I still didn’t feel any nostalgia or anything of the sort, but the very thought of these quilts affecting someone in that personal way touched me. I left knowing that there will be more guests who through seeing some piece in this exhibit, they will feel their past reaching out to them in a place much more familiar than they first believed.

Emily Kozhina, class of 2020

Family Ties That Bind Through Art

by Maya (’15)

When asked whom they most admire, many people would talk about famous artists whom they revere. I could do the same and write about Sylvia Plath or Margaret Atwood, but the truth is, I cannot fully admire someone I do not know. Because of this, I choose my brother, Julian, as the artist and person I most admire. I admire Julian because he inspires me to do my best in the arts.

Julian pushes me never to give up in the arts, no matter how incapable I feel. He is constantly changing and improving his work, trying out new things, and immersing himself in his art. When he practices his monologues after school and on the weekend, I am inspired to lengthen and develop my writing practice. His passion transfers to me through the art that links us together. All art is connected through the art that is created in response to the lasting impression it stirs in people. My brother and I are both artists, so we are constantly inspiring each other to create and improve.

Sometimes, a line from his monologue sticks with me, and I use it as a prompt for a poem. He delivers it with such force that the clarity and truth of the words are unavoidable. This sparks in me an interest about the performance of poetry, which manifested in the poem I read for the first Creative Writing show. Writing this poem was such a powerful and engaging experience, that I knew it needed an equally strong delivery. Instead of reading it as a mere bystander, I became the speaker. I embodied her feelings and conveyed her message to the audience. I do not think this would have been possible without Julian. From the very start of the creation of this poem, his acting pushed me to deliver my poem to its fullest. I envisioned Julian performing a monologue without inhibitions, and I strived for the same. He gave me advice on how to strengthen my piece, and told me what to emphasize.

Julian’s complete selflessness in his art makes me wish I could write uninterrupted by thoughts of doubt. Such thoughts are common when I write, and keep me from a state of absorption (or total immersion in the poem). Although I struggle with this, thinking of Julian helps me to release these thoughts. I know he is not perfect, and I know he doubts himself at times, but I think of the moments when he is so involved in a monologue or a role that nothing can shake him; this is my goal.

I strive for Julian’s relationship with his art, and I know he can help me get there. I know this because watching him act, dance or sing actually pushes me a little closer. This is not only why I admire Julian, but also why I appreciate and love him as my brother.