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  • May 2012

    Dear ... ,

    Time is quite something, isn’t it? Tassels turned and caps thrown, I blink and have to remind myself that I’m a graduate. No longer a student, but an alumna. It’s interesting and refreshing to come into a new identity, one of many which I’ll add to the mix. But this identity comes with memories. I can’t look at my new, blue “Duke Alumni” card without starting to wax nostalgic about my past four years.

    I’ve come to believe deeply in Duke’s goal of “knowledge in the service of society”. At Duke, I’ve discovered a happy convergence between personal passions and academic trajectory. If I had a personal motto, I’d guess it’d be: passion in the service of society. As an artist, I believe that it is through my art that I can contribute towards making this world more than it is. This conviction has been strengthened by my experience (limited though it may be) with community-based art. Community based artwork can effectively portray a situation in a way that encourage and/or provokes the audience to look at their world in a different way. It facilitates discussion and thus sets the table for root level social change.

    In a few weeks, I’m set to board a plane to begin my Hart Fellowship, which will take me back (again!) to China to work with Hua Dan (again!). For 10 months this time. As a Hart fellow, I’d like to help promote the kind of community based artwork that set me on this path in the first place. In particular, I want to help champion the arts as a means for advocacy, for fostering communication and mutual comprehension, and for education and inspiration. On the other hand, this type of art does not happen in a vacuum. Too often are unnamed “subjects” seized and misrepresented for one agenda or another (however well intentioned). To be the type of artist I want to be, I must first engage conscientiously with those whose stories I hope to help tell. Compassion and action must be guided by wisdom to truly affect “positive” change.

    This, above all, is why I am a Hart Fellow. This fellowship is a unique opportunity to pursue research that will bring together the theoretical and practical sides of artistic practice and community building.

    I can’t wait to begin.


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