testimony of a self-love major

 Last Thursday, my professor shared his screen on Zoom, giving us the sole instruction that we give him a word to Google. Right before our eyes. “Tension,” a classmate shouted out, and we all watched as “Tension in art” filled the search bar. 

Various artworks appeared across the screen. Our next instruction was to pick a piece that piqued our curiosity, and the same classmate picked this Kandinsky, titled “Delicate Tension”. 

We then proceeded to--as a group--talk about what we liked about this work. What strikes us as interesting? What emotions do we feel when we look at it and why?

What followed that prompt is the reason why I do what I do. Some spoke of familial connections. Others spoke of fragility and the beauty that comes with it. My professor saw an aerial view of Chicago’s Southside, and I saw a compelling exhibition of the contingency of our dreams. 

This is my education. This is how I am taught to view the world. 

So why aren’t we taught to view our bodies this way? I am included in the world, so I look in the mirror and see curves that mimic the winding shoreline of California. People travel from all over the world to stand on those cliffs and watch the power of the ocean collide with the stillness of the rocks. But all I have to do is look in the mirror. 

The same way I simply look down at the meeting of my thighs to see disoriented lines expanding down my legs. Lavender ivy growing, teeming with life.

Sometimes, my skin gets...whatever it means to be the opposite of soft to the touch. And I think it gets that way when I’m feeling hard to hold. That’s when I notice it, anyway. I’m hyper aware of the fact the only hand brushing my arm is my own. The only person standing in the foggy morning light of my bedroom is myself. And I know my skin recognizes my isolating tendencies the way I see its surface undulate in shades of pink and cream.

There’s meaning in it all. Every blemish, every bulge. I’m frustrated that I had to give money to a university in order to realize that. As an artist, it is my job to make meaning out of the meaningless--to make beauty out of what most deem unattractive. But I can humbly say that the beauty of the human body is wholly present without the application of my design curriculum. It holds beauty that exists beyond my power and efforts, and it’s up to us to decipher it in each other and in ourselves.


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