The Santa Clara
October 11, 2018
The other day, one of my friends told me, “I want to take your picture so that you know how I see you.” My first thought was, “Why don’t you just tell me how you see me?” but then I realized I was missing the entire point. Words only scratch the surface of communication, while art allows you to dig deeper.
Because of this, everyone should have a creative outlet in their life. Whether you are artistically inclined or talented is beside the point. It is important to take at least a few minutes every single day to engage the right side of the brain, where creativity and innovation originate.
We should stop to check in with ourselves and find a way to let our creative side come out: bring those internal aspects of our lives into the expressed world.
Poets and writers have figured out how to use words abstractly to convey an entire feeling rather than transcribing a thought, but outside of this, our everyday vocabulary and dialogue often fall flat of our emotions.
The ability to take an emotion and intergrate it into dancing, painting, photography or music is liberating. Art provides the creative space to play with an emotion and alter the expression of it until it feels exactly like what you are trying to say. Sometimes words are too concrete or too highly defined and structured. Emotions are not structured—they are fluid.
People are often afraid to use art as a form of self expression because they do not think they are talented enough to convey their thoughts. This is arguably the biggest hurdle but it can be conquered by testing different forms. Art has the potential to expose very raw parts of ourselves, leaving us extremely vulnerable. But vulnerability and self-expression can and often do prove to be very freeing, healthy and rewarding.
My own self-portrait, for example, is extremely telling in how I think about myself. In the process of taking this photograph I realized that I do not view myself as the centerpiece of the picture. In my self-portrait you only see a small portion of my face, with my hair flowing across the rest of the picture. This is because I see myself as integrated into my environment rather than the center of it.
The small portion of my face is balanced with my pink sunglasses as the brightest color in the picture because even though I am off to the side, I still think I have a bright spirit that people notice.
The photos of me without my sunglasses made me feel like I was not important enough, which does not properly reflect how I actually feel about myself.
Through the process of taking self-portraits and reflecting upon how I needed to alter the photo to better match my self-perception, I exposed myself to raw vulnerability and discovered a new part of myself.
If you try to express yourself with dance but are having difficulty transferring your emotions into your body’s movements the way you want, try another outlet like photography. Photography is one of the most accessible art forms because you are not creating something out of scratch. You are not responsible for the choreography or the lines that shape the paintings. Instead you are responsible for framing the world as it exists through your eyes.
When you take a photo of a person, the photo is not just a mere copy of what the person looks like. It is also a reflection of how you view that individual. You are capturing the moment as you are experiencing it. The angle you take it from is how you see them and the lighting is how you feel about them. That is what my friend was trying to say to me when he wanted to take my picture.
I have always thought art was an important part of a well-balanced life, but it wasn’t until my friend said that to me that I stopped to think about how absolutely essential it is in communicating with ourselves and one another.
When we try to smush our complex and confusing emotions into everyday words, we get lost because words cannot hold contradictory thoughts and confused emotions. Art, however, gives us the space to confidently express uncertainty and sit in discomfort.
By employing tactics like photography to rationalize discomfort, we will slowly become more capable of acknowledging our uncertainty as a beautiful thing rather than an obstacle we must talk our way out of. Art is unique to the creator’s world view. This is why a picture is worth a thousand words.
Sahale Greenwood is a sophomore political science and communication double major