Maintaining Your Artistic Passions at UConn

My latest painting
My latest painting

As a child, I had a hyperactive imagination. Maybe it was because I was always around my mischievous neighborhood friends, running around and lighting piles of leaves on fire, or maybe it was because I played with dinosaur and Pokémon toys instead of Barbies like most other girls my age. What I do know is that ever since my mother taught me how to hold a pencil when I was two, I have always loved the arts – it was a way for me to channel my ideas. I remember spending hours upon hours sprawled on the carpeted floor with my bucket of crayons, drawing epic battles between griffins and giant lizards and every fantasy scenario that I could imagine.

Music is also another one of my greatest passions. I always keep it playing in the background no matter what I’m doing – homework, striding across campus to class, or just getting ready for the day. Depending on my mood, my music taste fluctuates. When I want to feel energetic, I listen to heavy metal and techno, and if I want a relaxing environment, I go for classical and musical soundtracks. I also learned to play piano on my own after many years of lessons, learning new songs in my free time. I tend to play classical pieces with a sad tones like Chopin’s nocturnes, because they are more emotional and I can pour my own expressions into them easily.

Me in one of the music building’s practice rooms
Me in one of the music building’s practice rooms

I wanted to pursue something art-related in college, but with the “starving artist” stereotype constantly around these days, I chose science instead. I am also a firm believer of the fact that if you make your hobby into a career, you won’t enjoy that hobby anymore. In college, I found it difficult to pursue my passions at first because I couldn’t bring my art supplies, let alone a piano, but I have found many resources over the past two years. Here are some suggestions for those of you who would like to maintain your artistic passions in college:

 

  1. The music building. There are around 20 practice pianos in the basement and on the second floor, which can be used by anyone regardless of major. Even when you want to play at 3:00am, you can still access the building through the library (the glass cylinder).
  2. Late night. Most of the time, late night will feature creative activities like decorating your own hat or cactus pot. A few times per year, there will also be Paint Night, where professional artists come in and teach you how to paint step-by-step. Several of these paintings became my dorm wall décor.
  3. Clubs and organizations. These may seem obvious, but many student organizations are not well known and are great for getting together with those who have common interests. These range from illustration club and 3D-printing club to UConn marching band. If you’re into singing, there are also many acapella groups you can audition for.

    A piece I painted at a Late Night Paint Night event last year
    A piece I painted at a Late Night Paint Night event last year
  4. Homecoming week. Every fall during the week of the homecoming game, many Greek organizations and cultural centers participate in the homecoming competitions in the hopes of bringing back a trophy. There are five categories: alma mater, royalty, banner, parade, and lipsync, which all welcome unique artistic endeavors. I performed in lipsync with Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC) this year which chose a Michael Jackson theme, and although we did not win, having the opportunity to learn and perform dances with peers was fun and a great stress reliever.
  5. IDEA grant. If you are motivated about pursuing your own semester-long project and will be willing to dedicate many hours to it each week, you should consider applying to the UConn IDEA grant. If your project proposal is accepted, you will be granted $4000 to use for your projects. Projects in the past have included music composition, fashion design, and illustrations – there is no limit on what you can pursue.