Creatively Serving

First, click here.

Now, envision yourself cooking a delicious meal. You wash the vegetables, peel, dice, sway to the music. Spinning expertly to get a new knife, you pull open the drawer, 1, 2, 3, pick it up, conduct the orchestra, close the drawer with your hip, spin, slide, resume chopping onions. Brown the meat, spice it up with thyme and lemon pepper, shake shake here, shake shake there, Oh fly me to the moon!

Or, if cooking doesn’t suit your fancy…

You’ve got a blank canvas before you, paints to your right, paper towels and water to your left, paintbrush in hand. Closing your eyes, you let the music paint a picture for you: an explosion of color, the voices of trombones and trumpets, lines and zig zags, the steady beat of the drums. You conduct the musicians with your brushstrokes. Dab, swirl, dot dot, loooong stroke, dab.

For me, part of the creative process involves music. From cooking, to painting, to writing, my concentration is aided by background rhythm and pure instrumentals. But not all creative processes are the same.

For instance, I know that when I paint with my friend Elissa on Friday, we will not be listening to my study session music! It’ll be something to get us through painting mural pieces for her senior project.

Which is actually what I wanted to talk about tonight (though music is cool too!).

Let me start by saying this: Part of being an art major or minor means putting together the equivalent of a senior thesis, but instead of it being a giant paper, it’s a gallery show, or in Elissa’s case, an instillation mural on York Road.

She and another friend of mine, Christine, have spent the past few months assembling the pieces of the mural and with the help of various friends have started to paint it. The mural itself is on six 5’4’ plywood boards that will be set up in the windows of the Verizon building.

Last week the Urban Art club helped prime the back of the boards so they wouldn’t warp.

This week, I’ll be helping paint the mural (can’t wait to break out my painting pants!)

I’m actually really excited to work on this, because 1) I love painting (on any scale) 2) I don’t often have time to do service, so it’s nice to have something that I can fit into my schedule for once 3) This will be me one day, so I’m gaining a new perspective in how to plan my future project.

But most of all, I’m looking forward to doing this because of the people. Working with fellow students on something like this adds a new dimension to your understanding of them and the people it will eventually affect. No matter what Elissa and I end up listening to, or talking about, when we paint, I know I’ll enjoy her company and the simple act of spreading color on a blank canvas.

The unveiling is on April 26 at 5 p.m. in front of the Verizon building.

Getting It

“I just have five more gen ed classes and the next three years will be all neuroscience and chemistry.”
“What!?!?! Five? Only five? I have like, I don’t know, fifteen!!!”
“Hahahahahaaaa, sucks for you.”

That is the rough summary of a conversation between me and one of my best friends last year. We had been talking about graduation requirements while enjoying the shade of a nearby sidewalk cafe on a hot summer afternoon.

To be honest, my reaction to “Sucks for you” was “Mmmm” as I sipped my drink. Because if you think about it, wouldn’t you rather be doing what you love sooner, instead of having to balance core (gen ed) classes with your major/minor requirements? As I reached for a french fry from the basket between us, I tried to remember when a core class at Loyola turned out to be something I “loved” without knowing it.

Maybe I had missed something, a discussion in Theology that really got me to think about a global issue, a poem in English that inspired me to write one of my own, a lesson in CompSci that made me appreciate the complexity of the web*. At the time, I couldn’t come up with anything. Don’t get me wrong, I liked those classes, loved them even, but nothing stood out that made the core at Loyola “essential” to my understanding of “the bigger picture.”

And then last semester happened.

I don’t know if it was the combination of classes, the professors, or just the content, but suddenly everything started to click. Every week I had a Eureka moment of “Oh my God! We just talked about this author in my other class! And he relates to both classes! Ah!”

Here’s a less vague example: My first core History class started with the Renaissance, as did my Art History class. Throughout the semester we’d be covering the same time periods, but focus on different aspects of society and I was able to see how politics and cultural trends directly affected the art world, in every era. My Art History class covered the 1970s feminist contributions which were later discussed in my Life Drawing class because the representation of the female nude is a huge point of contention. That Life Drawing class also had assigned readings relating to philosophy and the concept of what makes us truly human which my Philosophy professor ensured we discussed when we read Plato’s Timaeus. Those connections made those classes worthwhile. I was excited for whatever came next, knowing that it might relate to a different class.

You don’t get that in high school, and you definitely don’t get that in all colleges. There’s a lot of early specialization in state schools, and if there is a core, you don’t have to take 2  classes of Theology, Philosophy, English, History, and Social Science, courses which teach you to think in totally unexpected and different ways.

Unexpected. That’s the best way to describe it, I think. We’re reading Frankenstein right now in my Lit class and Rousseau in my Philosophy class. Suddenly the debate about human nature and man’s “natural state” takes on a whole new meaning. I just learned about comparative cost in my Microecon class and boy does that change my rate of procrastination!

Maybe it’s pure luck that my classes are working out this way. Maybe my attitude has changed from last year and I view classes differently now. Maybe I’m just paying more attention.

No matter why this change has occurred, what’s important is that it has. Last year I was frustrated at not seeing how my classes tied into each other. I was forcing that connection the Loyola brochures advertise as an advantage of the core. This year I see, hear, and understand those connections. I finally get it. And it’s beautiful.

*For the record, since this chat with my friend, I have realized all of those possibilities are true.