A Shameless Love Letter to Art from an Emotionally Detached Killjoy

 

A tangential blog article/listicle (I’m coming for you Buzzfeed!) to my first blog post (check it out here ).

PS: Just for context, I’ve been going through somewhat of a hard time these past few weeks/months/eternities with scholarship and university applications. While reading through my university and scholarship application essays during my quarter-life crisis, I found that art was a common thread throughout all of them, so I decided to stitch them together into a blog post!

PPS: I took out the parts where I tried to convince people to give me tens of thousands of dollars/let me into their prestigious school

 

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#1. Because I didn’t speak English

I fell in love for the first time when I was 3 years old. Like many first loves, it was intense, unplanned, and in many ways — completely impractical. The year was 2003. My father brought me home after spending the majority of my early life with my relatives in China while they were completing their education. Upon arrival, my mother was heartbroken when she found that she could not communicate with me. I spoke a dialect that was exclusive to a small village in China. She tried everything but nothing really stuck until she handed me a small board and a pack of markers. Over the next few months, my only method of communicating with the people around me was through art. These are my earliest memories — and was the exact moment I felt the power of art and its ability to move and connect people that didn’t even speak the same language.

#2. Because I don’t know how to talk about my feelings

I’m soft and sensitive and I feel feelings intensely and I’ve always been that way. I stayed in bed and didn’t come out for two and a half weeks after receiving my first university/scholarship rejection letter. My father still tells me stories about the time child services almost took me away because I screamed so loudly on that first flight back home from China. This isn’t always such a bad thing. However, it does become much harder when you’re simultaneously emotionally detached and don’t know how to express your feelings. I always tell people that art is what I use to bridge the gap between my feelings, my (very) expressionless face, and the world outside.

#3. Because my family doesn’t say “I love you”

My family doesn’t say I love you. I used to think this was normal. I used to tell myself that we didn’t express our feelings because we were Asian, or because we were immigrants, or sometimes I told myself it was because I was an only child (at the time). During my angstiest middle school days, sometimes I thought that maybe (just maybe!) they didn’t actually care. However, I know now that it’s because we didn’t need to express it verbally. My mother’s “I love you” was folded into the handmade dumplings she made every weekend, or the chives she grew from seeds every fall, or the 580 times both my parents woke up at 6:00AM to get me onto the bus by 6:45. Anything you do with that much care is love, and anything you do with that much love (I would argue) is art!

#4. Because (sometimes(more often than not)) art says more than numbers

I run an arts organization on the side (shameless shout out to Ink Movement!) and the one lesson I’ve learned over and over again over my past 3(4?) years with the organization is that more often than not, art and feelings paint a far more accurate painting than numbers. Furthermore, I also believe art is the best way to reclaim the nuance that numbers often erase from the human experience. To illustrate, one of the most compelling themes we’ve been exploring is not only exploring the intersections of people’s identities through art, but also using art as a way to humanize communities that are too often reduced to a statistic or newspaper headline.

#5. Because art is the house I live in and the food I eat

On a tangential note, I love art because I need it to survive. I don’t mean this in an early 2010esque Tumblr phase way. I mean this literally. If you think about it, art is anything you pour part of yourself into, whether it’s culturally, emotionally, or physically. This means, to me at least, that everything from the food I eat, to the house I live in, to the clothes I wear, is art.

I love art because I need it, both literally and figuratively.

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