As two of the most commonly heard phrases of the 21st century, leadership and public speaking, begin to pervade to the Blair community and become essential parts of our Blair curriculum, sophomores, the bravest of all, take LEADS class and attend a public speaking contest at the end of the year. It is true that the modern society emphasizes individuality and thus is required to produce massive amounts of leaders to exert an impact. It is also true that public speaking is a great tool for spreading ideas and gaining self confidence. However, behind those glamorous terms, all I can see are empty shells. To lead others, one needs empathy and experience to communicate; to make speeches that spread “impressively deep and creative” ideas, one must first know how to generate those ideas using emotions and senses to feel and to reflect. Maybe we will learn how to say phrases such as “make a difference,” “take a stand,” “make good decisions” etc. And maybe we will learn how to stand in proper postures, use the right volume and make eye contact when delivering a speech. But how do we develop our inner voice that makes up the content of the speeches? It seems to me that we are living in a time when our inner voice and emotions are not being emphasized enough. We tend to be neglectful in terms of pursuing standard creativity, and instead try to change big issues such as famine, racism, education etc. Don’t get me wrong, indeed those problems need our attention and we should make some changes, but before that, maybe we need to take care our emotions.
Art is one of the methods that enable us to help us express our feelings, whether it is fear or love, sadness or joy. When you are doodling in class, trying to kill time after the teacher lost you the moment you stepped into the classroom (though not recommended to do), you will be surprised that the simple sketches are actually expressing your feelings in a creative way. Though not everyone can be an artist, everyone has the right to express emotions.
At the beginning of this fall semester, the Oracle established a new art gallery. The ideals of this gallery are to share student artwork with the community and to appreciate the value of art. Our first featured artist is Yasameen Mohammadi. She is an amazing artist and has great passion for art. I first saw Yasameen’s art work was when last week when I went to the can. Her painting of her grandmother was hanging on the wall and I was amazed when I saw it. It was really detailed and touching, as if it was telling a story. So here is a short interview with Yasameen.
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Chris Liu: When did you first realize that you are interested in art?
Yasameen Mohammadi: It was back when I was in second grade. Art was a mandatory subject in my school. I remember one day in the class my teacher looked at my drawing of a fairy and she said: “This is so beautiful!” and then she made everyone in the class to clap for me and took a picture of my drawing. That encouraged me so much. I remember running back home that day and telling my mother that my teacher decided to print out my drawing and frame it to hang it in her room. So she was the first one who encouraged me to continue drawing. Then when I was in fourth grade I transferred to a new school where they had art as an after school activity. But the space was limited so they didn’t want to take any younger kids. I remember everyday I would go to see the teacher and beg him to put me in the art project. He finally said he would take me if I show him a notebook full of my drawings. Of course he thought I couldn’t do it – I was only nine years old. But it only took me a week and a half to fill the notebook. When he saw it, he agreed to let me join the art project, even though he was not that excited about it. Then I started to go to the art room every other day and he would make corrections on my drawings. So that was the first time I actually started to draw. Eventually the teacher left when I was in eighth grade, and from then on I just made art on my own.
Chris Liu: What was your biggest source of inspiration?
Yasameen Mohammadi: When I was a kid, it was the art books. They were for my older cousins and they were really pretty. The art books there only have mangos and things that are meant for the first and second graders. I liked those, but I was more interested in the art books for the older kids because those drawings are more free and cover more topics, such as fairy tales. Also my favorite artist, Mahmood, really inspired me. His works are really detailed and when you look at it you will be amazed. I like details because it makes art closer to reality and more alive. When I draw I tend to choose models or photograph that I’m really familiar with and are closer to my heart. That made a lot of difference because I would put all my heart and emotions into that painting.
Chris Liu: What do you think is the most important part of drawing?
Yasameen Mohammadi: First the techniques are really important. When my teacher left and I started to draw on my own, I didn’t know many techniques. I was drawing for my passion. Last year when Miss Blatt was here, she put a pepper in front of me and told me to draw it. Then she looked at my drawing, and at first she said it was really good. Then she kept looking at it and noticed my mistakes. For example, my shadows were not as accurate, even though they looked good at first sight. That was the first time after years of drawing that I realized the difference between shadows and their levels. Before that I was just copying it without even noticing the differences. From then on, I realized techniques are actually really important and they have made drawing easier for me. Also, it is really important to express your feelings through drawing. I like drawing human faces and nature because you can feel the emotions in them. That is why details are so important for me because it make the drawing more real so that you can feel the life of them. Drawing is a part of my life and it is the way I express my emotions. Whenever I’m stressed or sad I will just draw something to comfort myself and to express the feeling. I have a passion for drawing and I really enjoy it.
(Copyright 2015 Chriss Liu)