This I Believe

Rebecca - Boise, Idaho
Entered on May 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Everyone Is an Artist

You know that feeling you get when you walk into an art museum? Or listen to a beautiful song? Maybe even watch a talented dancer? You know the one I’m talking about, that deep, pit-of-your-stomach mixture of awe and importance (and maybe just a pinch or two of envy) that comes from getting to witness such an inspiring outpouring of talent and expression. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to feel a small personal sense of inferiority within me. And this jumbled mess of feelings always seemed to hit me whenever I experienced a great piece of art until last summer. That is, until the summer in which, for some reason, I decided to coop myself up in classroom for two months, eight hours a day, taking classes that, for no reasonable motive, I felt necessary to complete over my own vacation. Oh, and I forgot to mention, sharing this misery with me were about thirty other depressed and sun-deprived teenagers, most of whom’s attendance was not of their own accord. But out of all of these five-percent-likely-nerds-and-ninety-five-percent-likely-hellions, I remember one girl standing out in particular.

Her name was Sara. And with four layers of purple and black clothes, messy, dark hair, and matching black painted eyes, she was just about the weirdest girl I thought I had ever seen. She sat to the left of me in that afternoon health class, my only other neighbor being the broken projector on the other side. Our relationship didn’t take long to establish, four hours after we had been seated next to one another I still only knew her

name from the top right-hand corner of her worksheet and a deadly silence weighed down between us. It became a pattern, this bare recognition of one another, unless some awkward event occurred, like one dropping a pencil at the other’s feet, which demanded some type of acknowledgement neither one of us know how to administer. Until one afternoon, in the middle of one of Mr. Ward’s impossibly long lectures, the usual mix between his daily jogging routine and sharing of his adult attention deficit disorder. I, in my usual state of toeing the line between consciousness and unconsciousness, did my routine look around the classroom. This time though, out of the corner of my eye, a complicated tangle of black lines stood out from the white paper to my left. I looked down and out from a thick sketchbook, a woman of angled features and sharp, dark eyes was appearing. And commanding this was Sara’s paper-white hand furiously scribbling along the page. I watched this with intense interest until she, finally noticing my stunned face and open mouth, narrowed her shadowy eyes and put her notebook on top to begin to pretend to work on other things. The bell rang for our ten-minute break and Sara broke out of the classroom, thick sketchbook in hand. It wasn’t until the next day, when I noticed the layers of the book underneath her binder of notes that I screwed up the courage to ask her for a look. She stared out at me from behind her white mask of makeup and, after what seemed like an hour, I saw her purple lips form a smile and felt the weight of the book in my hand.

I remember every single sketch in that book, every flower drawn with black lines, every abstract object that flowed across the page, every doodle of a person that looked exactly like a black and white photograph. But one page out of that heavy sketchbook burned its piercing image into my mind the most. And I use this memory as a weight against that mix of feelings I get when I see a great piece of art, for my strongest belief of all. I believe that everyone is an artist. From a painting hanging on the wall of a museum, to the tune your mom hums while she bakes, to the tiny step taken by a toddler ballerina, to the doodles scribbled in the margin of a worksheet; art is everywhere and is from everyone. I take this belief with me wherever I go, to appreciate all the beauty every person puts out into the world. This, and that image in the back of my mind of the woman with the angled features and those sharp, dark eyes.