I Grew Out of the Earth | Teen Ink

I Grew Out of the Earth

October 31, 2013
By momentaryloss SILVER, East Hanover, New Jersey
momentaryloss SILVER, East Hanover, New Jersey
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

When I was a child, I loved to read. One day, my fourth grade teacher cautiously asked me why I found it necessary to read six different books at the same time, alternating the chapters by day. Curious, I had paused a bit, wondering why an adult would indulge a child in a question with such an obvious answer. “Because if I only read one book, it's boring,” I had replied.

Things haven’t changed very much. Back then, I reined in my overflowing bursts of creativity and energy with the stories written by others; today, my mind still constantly moves in a dozen different directions at once, but I have found a more effective and soothing way to focus and to calm my mind. I’ve found art.

To be clear, I’m not confined to any academic plane; I just happen to have a special connection with art. It soothes my psyche to drown in oil paints and turpentine, to fill my lungs with pastel dust and pencil shavings. Most of all, I love digging my fingers into clay, and creating life from malleable earth.

I had never thought of myself as a talented artist. So when my art teacher led my class into the school’s clay room, I considered myself in someone else’s domain. I never expected to fall in love with the messiest, most temperamental and gratifying medium that I’d ever worked with.

I don’t know how my first clay piece turned out so well. I had no training in ceramic art before, and truth be told, that piece should never have survived the kiln. Even my art teachers first sympathized with me, telling me that it was my first attempt at working with clay, and I shouldn’t feel bad if it broke apart. So when my finished product finally emerged from the kiln, perfectly intact, my victory tasted twice as sweet. I had sculpted a mermaid, because I felt that mermaids perfectly represented the former beauty and mystique of the ocean. I named her Narcissa – a withering, dying, desperate mermaid. She had wispy hair floating around her skull as if underwater, lips parted in a silent plea, and eyes without pupils to dehumanize her appearance and to draw attention to the dire condition of the oceans. Most importantly, a single, prominent crack along her face to disrupt the beauty and to show the destruction of marine life. Because like a mermaid, I’ve spent my life loving both the water and the land.

Working in the clay room made me believe, for the first time, that I was good at something. I poured my own desperate concern for the water into my art, and it turned into something truly lovely.

I finally took pride in myself, and in my talent. When I work with clay, I feel completely and totally at ease. I don’t feel the need to talk, or socialize. I let the silence wrap around me. I work. I create. I am calm in the clay room because I am molding myself, and it takes all the concentration in the world to build my soul into tangible form. I don’t need to speak, to move, because my soul and energy have been transformed into immortal sculptures that don’t need any verbal explanation. When my fingers drag across the soft earth, I leave my fingerprints in their wake, imprinting my own story into their form.

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