BY TIFFANY JOHNSON
It's quite possible that you clicked on this page not fully knowing what aesthete means. No worries, I didn't know either until recently as originally I was going to title this blog page, Becoming Artsy, but felt that the word aesthete describes me as an appreciator of multiple branches of art. It's essentially a synonym for connoisseur. Growing up my parents made it a point to expose me to art when the opportunity presented itself. Without knowing it at the time, my experience living in the Arts Village at NC State University amplified my appreciation for the arts.
So, get this . . . I didn't apply for housing to college shortly after I got accepted like most prospective college students. I was stoked about attending NC State, but was also in the midst of heavily grieving my father's passing and was more focused on adjusting to my new day to day life. When I attended orientation, the summer before college, and most everyone received their housing assignment it was cause to be concerned that I didn't have a place to live during school. I then went to University Housing with my mom and applied to be on the housing waitlist. It was a waiting game at that point because I couldn't commute myself to school, from Charlotte to Raleigh, without a car or a driver's license. The weekend before classes started, I was notified of an availability within Turlington Hall. As quick as I could, I accepted the open spot which thankfully put my mother at ease as well.
I had no idea that the residence hall to which I was assigned was identified as the Arts Village, which is an initiative intended to expose students to theater, arts and crafts, music, and dance. Oh boy. I just wanted a safe place to live without requirements as I got accustomed to college, though it was a bonus that their rooms were bigger than most on campus. Plus, there was a sink in the rooms, so I was able to brush my teeth and wash my face without having to go down the hall.
The biggest hurdle was that I had to register for a 1 credit hour class, AVS100 - Arts Village Forum while a resident and was required to attend arts events to keep my housing spot secured. Uh oh, a bore . . . right?! I will admit that at the time, I certainly did not fully appreciate the experience as I look back now and realize that it was a wonderful opportunity for exposure. While in college, I saw it as an addition to my current caseload with life, in the midst of grief, and I just wanted to come home from class and stay in my room without being required to go back out to attend hour long events. I did remain a resident in the village for 2 years, so that tells you it was an overall great experience. Plus, you know I wasn't giving up the larger room. If I was required to do more, then I was going to do more to keep my spot secured!!
I remember being in the theater track at one point, where they teach you the basics, which I always wanted to learn, though I mostly remember the exposure of musical plays, dance programs, music programs and artist highlights, jazz concerts, and listening to the symphony.
Not only were we required to attend arts events to maintain our spot, but we were also required to attend hall events, i.e. events hosted by the residence hall where all of us were supposed to be present. There was this really cool arts event, in retrospect, where the entire residence hall met at a location across campus and were given an art project. We were separated into different groups, and didn't know the intended outcome. Once we finished, we came back together as a group and discovered that together we had drawn Mr. & Mrs. Wuf, the NC State Mascots!
These really were obligations disguised as invaluable experiences. Now, that I'm a bit wiser and out in the "real world" as the grown folks used to say, I realize that if I want to afford myself similar opportunities to exposure, then I will have to spend my own coins. Yet, it's definitely worth it as seeing and/or participating in arts & culture live and in person sparks a certain form of happiness and appreciation in my heart. It often reminds me of when my mom took me to the children's theatre when I was younger, and it makes me smile a bit larger.
Purchasing original art has served as a form of healing through grief for me as I commissioned a painting of me with my mom and dad, respectfully, that serves as a token of joy. Since then, it has become a joy of mine to view original art as I love seeing the strokes on canvas as they serve as a reminder of all the talent and hard work that went into creating something special. I've almost run out of room on my wall to display art, because I've acquired so many amazing pieces over the past few years.
Honestly, since I was younger, I have always envisioned myself as being bourgeois and frolicking around the city drinking fancy water with lemon while admiring elite art at galleries and museums. One day!
Not only will my glow up be unveiled through this blog page, but I will also share details about topics pertaining to arts and culture, inclusive of plays, musicals, my favorite artists and much more. Stay tuned!
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