Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Eyes fixed upon the image in front of her, brows slightly furrowed, the girl appeared to be lost in thought. While the others walked on after stopping briefly before the piece, she stood there with her feet glued to the spot. I watched the girl from behind one of the tall white grids on which dozens of frames were suspended in the cafeteria. My eyes traveled from her face to the painting she was looking at, and finally to the tiny card beside it: Title – Colors of Freedom; Media – watercolor and ink; Artist – me.There hung the painting I had poured my heart into, my very own masterpiece. Smiling to myself, I couldn’t help but feel immensely proud, not because the piece was featured in the school’s senior art show but because I knew that it was entirely and uniquely my own, that I gave life to it and therefore, no matter where it went, it could never be taken from me. I have loved art for as long as I can remember. My family’s old furniture and my father’s books were my first canvasses, to which the scribbles that cover these objects still attest. When other children abandoned their coloring books for Barbie dolls and baseball bats, I was the one always sitting inside during recess, letting my imagination run wild onto the pages of my sketchbook. As I grew older, immersing myself in the world of my own creation became the perfect antidote for a bad test score or a fight with a friend. Over the course of my life, art has become irretrievably a part of my identity. For me, the most exhilarating thing about art is the process of creation. When I sat down to begin what was to become my featured piece in the show, I felt both eager and curious – knowing that the blank sheet before me would soon be transformed into something beautiful, yet not knowing what it would look like. My excitement grew as my pencil danced lightly over the roughness of the paper. Then, a moment of fearlessness, as the first streak of color shattered the pallor of the page. Experimentation ensued; sprinkling salt crystals onto wet paint yielded surprisingly satisfying results. The rest of the brushstrokes were laid down with care, threads of ink offered the finishing touch, and at last – something unlike anything else in the world: a portion of my soul, contained within an 11 by 18 sheet of paper, and on display for all to see. At that thought, my mind snapped back to reality. To my surprise, another minute must have passed and the girl was still staring at my painting. “Hey, are you alright?” I walked over cautiously and asked. “Yes,” the girl replied. “Are you the artist?” I nodded and noticed her now smiling mysteriously, not at me but at my painting, as if she knew something that I did not. “Thank you,” she said quietly, turned around and vanished into the crowd. I was left there in the cafeteria, dumbfounded and speechless, surrounded by a multitude of other students yet feeling quite alone. I didn’t know who she was, if she was in my grade or even went to my school, for I never saw her again. I didn’t know what it was about my painting that had moved her or why she thanked me, for I never had the chance to ask. But what I did learn that day was this: my art wasn’t merely something that fulfilled my own passion; it had the capacity to touch the heart of a complete stranger. Art might begin from within, but it is the connection it makes with the outside world that is perhaps the most beautiful thing of all.