When I think about this course, what I’ve gained and the ways in which I have contributed towards the community we’ve built in the shaggy room located in Welles 216, I become overwhelmed by how many kind, eager, bright classmates I’ve met—some which I now consider friends—and how much I’ve learned and developed throughout the progression of the spring semester. One of the earliest memories I seem to be finding myself heavily resonating on these days—one which I spoke about in my very first blog post—was Steve Prince’s Urban Garden Project. That first week felt like a celebration of unity and collaboration. Just as I so heartily outlined in my blog post titled What We Talk About When We Art, there was nothing not to love about participating in the Urban Garden Project led by Steve Prince. From the words I uttered in that very first blog post, we spent the week listening to snazzy tunes and having lively conversations with one another. We got our gloves and shoe covers on and then we got ready to get down and dirty with some charcoal blocks. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in an academic setting.
Now as I ponder on the vast realization that this essay is actually the last essay I will have to write for the rest of the semester, I feel a rush of melancholy and gratitude as I take a step back and self-assess the areas in which I’ve developed and improved, and in the same way, realize the importance of commitment to boundless growth and the significance of failure. There seems to be an never ending interaction and overlapping similarity in the ways in which this course has helped my approach and perspective on a variety of subjects, whether it be art, information, science, community, storytelling or academia. Through the course, I was given the tools and environment I needed to gain self-confidence in my abilities and capabilities and truly render them and apply them in and outside of the classroom. I once said that I had come to recognize that I have more to talk about than what I had originally been led to believe, the hardest part was just starting, and as I still advocate and stand by that same observation, I decided that despite the plentiful of stories I could share and talk about, this one specifically would be about “self-autonomy.”
When I first came to the agreement with myself that this word would by my “interdisciplinary” term, I knew that I wanted it to focus on the agreement that there is such power behind the shelter and strength we find in one another, and I wanted to outline the ability to reclaim something that might be seen as inherently negative by reconstructing the detrimental and harmful connotations attached to an idea, word or event by regenerating it into something dynamic, positive, powerful, and empowering. Self-autonomy for me meant the Baby Dolls in our required course text, Walking Raddy: The Baby Dolls of New Orleans and us as students in facing adversity and challenges with resilience, strength and humility. The Baby Dolls displayed their strength through creating a space of their own to share in their community during the Jim Crow era, a space of their own and an area which provided aid and guidance through the support of art, creativity, motion, self-individuality and self-expression. I knew I wanted to pay tribute to the resilience these women displayed and I wanted to meditate on the importance of reclaiming failures we might face as working tools for self-growth. The idea and word “failure” always terrified me to my core but through the short anecdotes we’ve shared, through the conversations we’ve had about Steve Prince and art in general, I reconciled with Failure. I no longer fear it nor do I automatically avoid it, finding peace with it allows you to self-reflect, to self-access, it helps you grow. If something is not making you THINK, if it isn’t challenging you, if it’s not helping you recognize that failure is a part of learning, then you are in the wrong room.