Art class not just for the artistic

Art class not just for the artistic

Up until this year, I was one of those people that always told myself I wasn’t creative. I never wanted to try an art class in fear of failing. Despite that, I decided to give it an art class a shot and took Photo Art I first semester.

Looking back, it may have been one of the best decisions of my high school career.

You have to center yourself to center the clay,

— Emily Phillips

I didn’t just learn how to take better and more interesting photos, but I learned how to better cope with my stress and anxiety. Part of it is the raw form of expression art entails and being able to physically express that. “It’s a matter of getting your emotions out in a concrete form,” art teacher Katie Black said.

Verbal expression hasn’t always worked for me, and too often dark feelings stuck in my head. Since I began to experiment with photography and express myself through that, I have other means of expressing those emotions and keeping them from bottling up.

At first, I struggled in the class, as most would expect me too since I haven’t taken an art class since seventh grade with Connie Pruitt. After a while, I started to come out of my shell. I learned that the argument of “not being creative enough” is a complete fallacy. As we grow up, we focus too much on how we do things rather than simply doing them. Art is not a test of skill but an act of expressing that creativity we all have. We lose touch with that part of us, leading too many people simply saying “I’m not good enough,” when they have something to offer the world no one else does. “It’s about maintaining that piece of us,” Black said.

People are mixing creativity with skill when saying this.  “Everybody has a creative part of them,” Black said. “Your skills can be taught.”

Students who are taking multiple Advanced Placement (AP) classes should especially consider taking an art class. I took one AP class, AP World History, my sophomore year and that alone was enough to blow my stress levels through the roof. Creating art not only reduces stress levels in the body; it also improves cognitive abilities, memory and attention.

So much focus has to go into creating a piece. It’s like a skill that needs practice to improve. “You have to center yourself to center the clay,” teacher Emily Phillips tells her students.

It makes sense. People can’t work at the pottery wheel ridden with anger. They have to be calm to make the precise movements to properly shape the clay. This anomaly is called “flow.” Flow is when individuals are so immersed on what they are doing that they are not thinking of anything else. It’s a near-meditative state that increases performance and rids the mind of other distractions. “All the stress of your life has to completely go away,” Phillips said.

I find this to be true when I pick up my camera and start shooting. Art has given me a new chance to express myself and do so while having fun. “You’re creating something that has never existed before,” Black said.

Take a chance on art. The opportunity to create something beautiful is inside all of us.

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