Dylan Kennedy (2nd Quarter, 2007)

2nd Quarter, 2007
Art Scholarship Winner
Dylan Kennedy

My name is Dylan Kennedy, and I’m currently a first-year student at Southwestern University, a small liberal arts college in Georgetown, Texas. I’m a Studio Art major and an architecture minor for the Sarofim School of Fine Arts at S.U., and I plan to pursue a degree in architecture upon graduating.

A Portion of Dylan’s Winning Essay:

Dylan Kennedy
Dylan Kennedy

Living in Amarillo, you see an immense expanse of space, flat and far-reaching in every direction. No trees grow to hinder your view, and yellow grass—from which the city derives its name—is the only thing you can see beyond the steam of the power-plant and fiberglass refinery. The city’s most prominent feature apart from the dry landscape is the seemingly rigid and one-sided view that its people stand for.

To some, the city is like a prison, conforming to a certain ideology that makes the ambitious thinker or the restless romantic shudder. He runs full speed for any sign of life beyond the sea of yellow. It’s hard to see any color in a place where everything seems monochromatic; however, being an artist I’ve found a way to see more than just the yellow that surrounds everything. You just have to scratch the surface, and pay attention to detail. Sometimes I feel as though I was born with the goal of searching for such depth.

I’ve been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil; my mom would give me a pad of paper to sketch on in the back seat of the car, and my creativity sparked from there. I’ve lived all my life in this small city where little is offered in cultural differences or artistic values, but I’ve gained more of a sense of what diversity and thought could bring to it.

In elementary school, I never learned to work with a group. No one did. At Amarillo Montessori Academy, every student was taught to think creatively, at their own pace. A 2nd grader could work on 5th grade work if he was capable, for there was no uniform curriculum in the class. We weren’t held by social conformity and standards which normal schools develop such as the division between ethnic cliques; each of us was a rivulet that flowed away from the mainstream. There was no paradigm to follow and fall short of, or prejudice to divide us.

Most people who know me would be shocked about how radically different I am now from the way I was as a young child. They would describe me as a quiet, soft-spoken guy who never gets in trouble for any reason whatsoever. How could anyone but my family imagine that I’d been suspended from kindergarten—twice? To ensure that I had absolutely no way of getting in trouble, I was placed in a box; a cardboard barrier was set up around my desk to inhibit distractions from my work. Later I was moved to a desolate corner because I talked through the wall that separated me from my classmates, always expressive and outgoing.

My teacher, Mrs. Stratton, was a lady who always made new experiences a lesson. Her role was to present new activities for us to try, giving us free reign to complete them using materials and learning games suited to a child’s interests. The school provided the students with a moment of free-time after recess in which we could draw, paint, and sculpt paper. Everything was a visual learning experience there.

I remember once in 2nd grade when Mrs. Stratton taught us about the camera. She had everyone tape up all the windows and doors— every crack—to make the room completely dark; all except a tiny pinprick of light. She set up a screen in front of the minute hole and told a few of the students to go outside and move around. To everyone’s bafflement, a very subtle image was formed on the screen like a motion picture, upside down. Through the tiny hole of light, we were able to see the world outside that room in a totally different perspective.

But when I moved to a public school in the middle of 3rd grade, I could never have been prepared for the complete culture shock I experienced. I was exposed to a new light, for I’d been sheltered from competition and regulated standards of education. I was new to a vocabulary of demeaning phrases and insults, racism and profanity. Oh, no, I wasn’t prepared—I was entering a foreign country with a language barrier. How could I be ready? It was as though I’d lived all that time in a camera, looking through that tiny hole. There was a social lack I had to gain.

The high school I attend now is the poorest and most ethnically diverse in the city, a palette amidst schools which are predominantly white. At Palo Duro High, I can hear 5 or 6 different languages spoken at the same time in the hallways, I see hardship, racial prejudice and self-deprecation because of cultural differences and economic class, and the spectrum of these separate truths gave me a chance to look at the world in an artistic way.

Color separated from a prism— a spectrum separated— Saturated flags and standards aloft in their hands . . .

My creative bent never changed, even as I found myself transformed by my vision. I began to use my art gift as an outlet to understand myself and the differences I saw, bursting forth my talent as I did so. As a volunteer project, I painted a mural for the Palo Duro Migrant Program office. My senior year, I helped the school to establish an art club to provide the students with a means of expression and involvement in art. I stay after school for studio nights for the club to help students with techniques and work on my senior portfolio.

As I built power and talent in my work over the years, I won dozens of medals and awards. Several of my pieces have been exhibited in the Amarillo Art Museum. In the state-wide V.A.S.E. art competition, one of my pieces traveled through museums in Texas for a prestigious award it received called the Gold Seal Medal. I was the only student in my region to achieve the honor, but I always painted for my love of art. The true glory is in the painted canvases and framed drawings hanging on my wall.

Visual art isn’t my only means of expression: I love to write poetry. I write about love, life, and my observations of people. A talent show, for instance, reveals layers of meaning in each song I hear;

The spotlight shone to shade their faces— their stage-fright, their fear—and became The lights which sheltered their songs, Bending radiance to cover them in beauty. All danced for love, shouting for beauty, Masking their flaws to cover themselves, Revealing their songs. They fear their own light, one beauty unfit, unloved . . . And true beauty was lost in a lens.

For me, art and poetry are my voice. I participate in the newly-established poetry club at my school, where students read aloud their original works. Later on into the year, the club will look into publication of the poetry we’ve written.

As I worked to observe my environment, I was able to develop my own self-perception. By talking to immigrants at my school who come from African, Asian, and Hispanic countries, I’ve gained so much more than from any lesson taken in a class. My senior year, I won an essay competition for the Lion’s Club International Travel Abroad Program, for which I’ll stay in Italy during the summer for six weeks. There, I’ll witness the artistic origins of some of the greatest thinkers in history, not as a tourist but as a thinker myself. The opportunity is a treasure.

Copyright 2007, StraightForwardMedia.com. All rights reserved.

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