Art as Sanctuary

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Each morning when I entered my preschool classroom, I would cling to my mother, peering out from behind her legs where I would try to make myself invisible. It was only when guided to the children’s table and given some crayons and paper that I could detach myself. Sitting and starting to color, slowly, I would begin to feel comfortable. By the end of the day, I would be like every other kid, laughing and playing with my friends. All of my previous anxiety had evaporated.At my preschool’s open house I found, curiously, a large display that was unique to my art alone. They told me I had so many creations in comparison to my classmates that they made a separate section in order to showcase them all. I remember feeling embarrassed, but rather proud, too.Art has always been an extension of my mind in which I can meditate. A sanctuary. Even now, though I’m no longer quite as shy, sketching and hearing the gentle scratch of graphite against paper soothes me. Some teachers scolded me for the doodles that covered my assignments, but my pencil moved on, creating swirls that blended into eyes that flowed out into the sky. Art is essential to my being.However, art is not what defines me. Among other things, I love to read. To write. To analyze. My favorite class this year has been an English course focused on pure discussion. What is this character’s identity? How are they isolating themselves? How is society isolating them? The human condition. How does their mindset and method of isolation compare to my use of art as a safe haven? That’s what I love to talk about – not my art. Art has always been an internal aspect of my life, something intensely personal. I’m hesitant to share it with my friends and family, afraid of letting them see parts of me that I keep safely hidden. Drawing was at first a way of letting myself open up to others, but now I’m able to do that on my own. I’m experiencing the world around me. I’ve come far from those preschool days of attempted invisibility, but leaving my parents for college will still be hard. Will detaching myself, not just from my mother’s legs but from my home, friends, and community, leave me a bit anxious? Of course! But, just as in that classroom long ago, I’ll be able to open up and make friends and, hopefully, do even better than the timid girl of my past. Despite the unfamiliar and daunting world that will surround me, I know my art will always be there for me.

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