Finding inspiration through other mediums of art: At the start of our daylong journey to El Taller, I was feeling less inspirational than usual. My mornings often buzz with excitement, enabling my best work to be produced at 2 am, but even with a cup of coffee and a cold shower, the bus ride to Lawrence, Mass., was sleepy and grudging. When we arrived, however, I was swept into a flurry of thought. We were given playing cards to select from, each different and intricately painted, and asked to look at them closely. The artist, Dariana Guerrero is a highly accomplished writer and activist and, unlike me, lives beyond the bounds of expectations. When asked her purpose in creating these colorful cards, she simply replied that she wanted to make something beautiful and experiment with a new artistic medium despite never having pursued visual art previously. As someone who struggles to allow herself to make mistakes and step outside her artistic comfort zone, Ms. Guerrero’s passion and the artistry of her vibrant playing cards inspired me to create with novelty in mind.

Finding inspiration in others’ stories: The first activity with the cards required us to sift through the crowd of 20 and find our matching pair. I checked each person’s card twice, but I was unable to find a match. My card, a vine-encrusted fence riddled with mystery, was solitary. A fellow Workshop peer, Laerdon 24, was also matchless, leading us to join forces in the activity that followed. We were given instructions to speak with one another about the card and what it made us think of. Though we were on track to start, speaking about why we chose our cards in particular, our conversation quickly changed course, as it often does when the two of us converse. We began to speak about purpose and intent, sparking a conversation about how our intentions of Andover have shifted over the years. Laerdon spoke about his hometown of Chicago and initiatives he took on back home that were difficult to work on remotely. He felt an intangible magnetic pull to home, where his heart lies even after three years at Andover. His genuine explanation moved me, providing inspiration for the next piece of writing I created; a poem that centered around home” and how its meaning changes from person to person.

Finding inspiration immersed in culture:
Just a few days later, we went on yet another exciting field trip, visiting a Buddhist temple. Having been raised Hindu, my culture has always been adjacent to Buddhism. Despite this, I know little about the religion and less about the overlap. As a result, exploring the temple was an incredible experience. When given the chance to look around freely, I found myself investigating intricacies. The writing on a pillar by the Buddha looked like Sanskrit, but writing on the opposite wall appeared to be nothing like it. Why is that? Additionally, in a hanging list of religious conduct on the wall, dharma” was referenced in the plural form. Though this word also exists in Hinduism, the interpretations appeared to be vastly different. How do they differ most significantly? I asked such questions quickly when we returned to our seat on the floor, but the in-depth explanations simply inspired more questions. To shake the desire to continue asking, I began to write about these differences between a religion burned on the side of my brain and one that felt foreign.

Back to Top ↑

Be a part of our community!

Subscribe to our newsletter, Notes on Learning, for monthly updates.