I actually stopped working on art I was doing to write this. I was actually excited about this essay, probably one of the only times I’ve ever felt excited about an essay. Even though this was my least academic class, I only skipped it 3 times. When I have been in this class, I felt like this was how school was supposed to be like. We got to think for ourselves, with no punishment for a wrong answer, just encouragement to think a different way than we have before. To me, that is the most important thing. No matter what it is about, looking at things a different way and trying to understand things you don’t understand is one of the most important things in life. And I think this open-minded way of looking at things has to do with art. I’ve always done art, my whole life, and I actually originally came to this school for fashion design. I switched from fashion design as my major it ruined it for me. The second I had a requirement or due date, I couldn’t do it, and the work didn’t seem like the dream it once had but more like any other schoolwork, stressful, rushed, and done only to receive a grade. Before, when I would make clothes for fun and design things, it was on my terms and I loved it. I could just draw and create any masterpiece in my head and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever felt. But school and life took the magic out of that too. I think the way people are taught to see things is too literal, we think “what is this” instead of “why is this.” We have a hard time imagining the possibilities because we are built to find the answer, and then be done with it. When we stop, like the popular saying “stop to smell the roses,” to take time and really think about something, there becomes so much more.
I realized recently that I’m happiest when I behave like a child, but act like an adult. I know that sounds sketchy, but hear me out. Children see the world the way it was meant to be seen, with endless potential and constant entertainment. Children don’t care what anybody thinks about them, they wear what they want and eat what they want and they are mainly focused on just doing what makes them happy. Kids want to know everything and see everything and try everything, and when I started doing the same, life felt better, and art felt better. This was kind of a tangent, but it had a point. When I started doing art with the mindset of a kid, art was easier, made me less mad, and became everything. When I dyed my hair the first time, I thought of it as an art project. I made a dress for a Christmas party once, took me 30 hours, that was art. I rearrange and decorate my room, I do makeup, and just live like life is art in itself, no mistakes, endless curiosity, constant potential for new things. If I continue to live this way, then everyday things become art, and it will surround, my whole life.
So I’m from Portland, and I don’t know what you think of Portland, but I know we have a little bit of a reputation. Where I grew up, I was surrounded by art. Everywhere I went there was art. We saved art programs all across the city, there are murals on every surface, and countless brightly painted buildings. Where you’re in Portland, you feel comfortable, and after coming to LA, I can tell you it feels like you’re in a cozy room covered in windows, but in the forest. You feel safe, and it feels like a home. Art surrounds a Portlander’s life. The nature, of course, is art in itself. But the way people live feels different. People wear weird things and have weird jobs and and everyone shops at Trader Joes and no one cares. No one cares about getting wet in the rain, or traffic, or if anyone is judging them. People just do what they feel like, and embrace and accept the world around them while always being open to seeing what it could be. And for real though, we do have real-life hippies, white people with dreads who homeschool their kids and own goats and have piercings and tattoos and big flowy skirts and yes, everyone smokes weed, all the time. But this culture is more that just a “Keep Portland Weird” advertising agent. This is genuinely how people are happy to live their lives, and the place I grew up is where they came to do so, in a place free of expectations and judgements.