As individuals worldwide have strayed further from their normal lives during the pandemic, one has had to acknowledge the importance of comfort and hope that comes with community during these desperate times. Seeking stability amidst lamentable change is one of the main goals of our student body. CRLS’s very first Visual Arts Club encourages students to delve into creative thinking and re-establish a sense of community—which is necessary for coping with and verbalizing the harsh experiences that all have been exposed to.
Art does not just act as a symbol or conveyer, but it can also be used as a means of communication. Whether chosen to communicate identity, passion, knowledge, or simply even doodle drawings on the backs of our notebooks when we’re bored, the opportunities are limitless.
Many may not realize that art saves lives. It may not save you from falling off a cliff or being eaten by a bear, but it can invigorate an imprisoned mind. To relieve the anxieties of abnormal life as ongoing news, politics, and societal issues continue to bombard us just as we think the world is slowly improving; it’s not only suggested that individuals take mental refuge in circumstances of chaos, but almost imperative that we see the importance in doing so. With this in mind, the Visual Arts Club has created an environment that highlights just that; essentially giving students a break from the confines of a stressed mind.
This refuge is what can be known as the “flow state.” This is where the creative brain is truly, unreservedly free; when one exudes all the potential of their imagination without boundaries. It helps us steer clear from the obsessions of profit, fame, and neurotic perfectionism that stem from the pressures of any type of creative expression. One of the first members of the Visual Arts Club, Camila Tedesco ’22, told the Register Forum, “It’s so hard not to try to make everything perfect the way you see it in your head, it gets so frustrating to the point where I lose interest in finishing pieces. But seeing and talking with other people who are experiencing the same struggles makes it fun again, especially because you can give each other feedback.” The discouraging feeling of being stuck that Tedesco describes is not unfamiliar to many students. This is why in the Visual Arts Club, we push students to take a step back, and not only provide them with the opportunity to remove the block that’s preventing them from accessing this flow state, but to then help others in their situations to do the same.
We can look at art almost as a meditation, a practice to better ourselves. There is scientific evidence proving people who consistently practice activities that initiate this flow state have an easier time accessing those targeted parts of the mind. But for high schoolers, time is a luxury. Between classes, homework, and demanding extracurriculars (let alone living through a pandemic as teenagers), it can be nearly impossible to find time to take care of yourself. The Visual Arts Club recognizes this and helps students find time in their day for the aforementioned practice of meditation.
Although art is crucial as a means of dealing with things from within, it is also a powerful tool to explore and advocate for things going on around us. As movements of change spread worldwide, it’s imperative that we use art to interact with the world we live in, especially as high school students who can truly start to see our society for what it is. We formulate our own opinions, our likes and dislikes, and fiercely advocate for them by whatever means possible. Some of the most powerful art comes from those places of visibility and consciousness. We can use our ideas to move people, and to make a statement about the nature of reality. In simpler terms, there exists a beautiful intersection between art and activism.
In the CRLS Visual Arts Club, we take the opportunity to value life experiences, for these life experiences excite and stimulate us to take action, and push us towards concrete results not just within our school environments, but within the communities that we live in. By striving to alter perceptions, artistic activism allows for the emergence of a new approach to outreach. Considering art activism as an experiment, there are endless possibilities as to what we can solve, some things even being considered unintentional epiphanies that lead to self-realization. This is the luxury of art, knowing that it shouldn’t be a luxury, but a necessity.