Stories including Rilke

Sight Lines

I came to Vassar with the singular expectation that there would be a space for me to fill. It was to be a social space, an intellectual space, an artistic space. I was going to fall into it when I was ready. I imagined this process of suffusion involving minor adversity here, conversations about topics that defied the bounds of my knowledge there and the occasional irreparably awkward moment. At the end of each day, though, everything would be fine because I was somehow in a place that someone had deemed the right one for me. It took time for me to let go of this vaguely conceived idea of what my Vassar experience was to be. I cannot say when my instinct to passively receive knowledge transformed into an instinct to actively seek it, but that my experience at Vassar catalyzed this shift I have no doubt.

There is a generosity about this campus that lends itself to students who are attempting to forge an artistic identity. In its verdant landscape, open spaces and hidden corners of Gothic antiquity, this is a campus that invites creation through inhabitation. I learned how to recognize negative and positive spaces in Basic Drawing and Design on this campus. Novice that I was and still am, I am ever thankful that my eye sees artistic possibility everywhere. This way of seeing is a choice that I learned to make alongside the fellow theater makers of my class and the classes before me. The experience of observing and working with people who are bold in their love for art has changed my life. Never have I been part of a wide network of individuals so consistently curious and tenacious in their craft. Out of the personal and communal experiences of watching each other perform onstage and performing ourselves, an assertive and keenly sensitive group of artists has emerged. I now know what an artistic voice sounds and feels like. The work of my friends and peers has cracked me open, filled me with joy and pride, left me raw and made me yearn for more. I no longer float through life with the hope that artistic inspiration will fall in my lap-that my day’s travels will carry me to the same safe place each night. I have chosen to look for art everywhere, and I see it.

I think of poet Sylvia Plath’s lines, “You are the one / solid the spaces lean on, envious,” from her poem “Nick and the Candlestick,” and I cannot help but feel that I have become a space that surrounds the ever-present devotion to theater on this campus. I am glad that I will leave Vassar a more porous being than I was when I entered. The plays that I have watched and been in at Vassar, as well as the work that I did on my senior thesis have bored holes in the carefully constructed identity that I brought with me to Vassar. In my four years with Woodshed Theater Ensemble and my one semester thesis project spent with Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Sonnets to Orpheus, I have learned to say yes. Vassar has been a place of both extreme pain and immense bliss. I attribute my ability to affirm the duality of my experience through my art to the students and professors that I have come to know at this school. My gratitude will find expression in the art that I create.

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