I come from a rich cultural background where art is considered as a form of person’s identity. Therefore, in China, my idea of art would be as a cultural symbol limited to the specific constructs of a particular people within a given period. However, this perspective was changed a few years ago when I got the opportunity to study in the United States as an exchange student in high school. I was in high school, and the school, which I got to attend, is located in Texas. I also got the opportunity for home stay. During my stay in the US, I was encouraged to appreciate art. Therefore, I spent a significant amount of time visiting museums and art galleries as well as learning interesting facts about art. In such a way, I was able to fully appreciate art and even consider it as a major. My visits to the museums and art galleries were always eye opening as I got to appreciate art from a global and more contemporary point of view. I did not see it as an expression of culture in general but more as an individual interpretation based on the relevant social constructs for the artist’s circumstances. For example, Picasso’s Blue Period collection does not necessarily reflect the sadness of people but rather the artist’s personal situation between 1901 and 1904.
When I went back to China, I spent even more time looking at the numerous concepts of art: from the conventional oil on canvas paintings to graffiti and general street art. I discovered that the more time I spent on art, the more I loved it and the more experience I got rather than just looking at it. Initially, going to museums was just a hobby that helped me to relax as well as get out of my busy schedule at school and home. Since I always seemed to be learning new things with each piece I focused on, I started looking forward to my museum and art gallery visits. I even started picking out artists and looking at their works from a more critical angle to understand what they were trying to say.
As for me, art is a new dimension of life that enables a new way of perceiving person’s emotions, ideas, and thoughts. Art simply eliminates or at least minimizes the need for words, which could be deceptive or unclear in some instances. I have come to learn that from an emotional viewpoint art is a freedom of expression. So far, I have not had much experience in fine art except for my frequent visits to museums and a growing interest in Claude Monet’s work. I have been paying particular attention to the Stack of Wheat series, and I cannot seem to get enough in terms of fascination as well as inspiration. I believe fine art is a good fit for me because it is no longer just something I can look at but more than something I can see and experience in depth and candor.
I recently moved to the US, and I am studying at the Santa Monica College. Currently, I am mainly focusing on improving my language and communication skills to fit into the mainstream American society despite my deep Chinese background and cultural influences. I have been learning not only to focus on the English language but rather to learn the American culture to give myself a better chance to get to communicate. An essential part of understanding global art involves an understanding of the world culture. This means that I have to learn cultural competence with respect to the communication. Thus, this focus enables me to prepare for a course that will require understanding and interpreting art from various parts of the world. By removing myself from the monotonous concepts associated with being monocultural, I am currently able to put myself in a different context, to perceive expressions with an open mind, and to embrace individualism more readily. All these mean that my orientation towards art will be more pure and genuine without personal or cultural bias. Also, since my cultural exposure is currently limited to the US and China, I have been trying to interact with other international students to build my understanding of other cultures.
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Concerning extracurricular activities, while studying in high school, I was an active and relatively good swimmer. I took part in many competitions and even came third in the Shenzhen City swimming championships while I was in junior high. Coming from China, I believe in the importance of being in good physical shape to maintain a sharp mind. I intend to continue being physically active to stay healthy and mentally sound. I also noticed that swimming, as a discipline, can be likened to studying. With practice and persistence, one is always able to achieve the best results within their abilities. I hope to use the philosophies, which I borrow from swimming, and become the best that I can be with respect to fine art. I am particularly interested in the UC because it not only has the facilities I will need to excel in fine art but also the faculty that will guide and inspire me to achieve my academic goals and become a better person.