Junior Conceptual: A Junior Conceptual Project by Natalie Rockhold (2016)
Click to read Artist Statement
Although I wasn’t really a prodigy as a child, I was often so complimented or praised in school that I began to think I was. ''Aced ballet, and mommy and me'' was a more sarcastic line about the way parents exaggerate their children’s achievements, like Susie’s the first child ever to play soccer or the piano. But in reality the problem that I have stems more from the constant competition and harsh environment that I am surrounded with in high school. ''Apparently colleges don’t like former child prodigies, They don’t like people whose interests are hobbies.'' Well-meaning relatives and teachers discussing my future career led to these lines: ''Relatives would say, ‘Natalie Rockhold, PhD! Maybe when you’re older you’ll get a law degree, You know, we need another doctor in the family.’'' Coming from an Asian American family definitely carries with it a stress on the value of education and ''traditional'' careers that my older cousins have pursued. Expressing my interest in liberal arts sometimes results in a concerned look followed by a discussion of how a starving artist can’t support the lifestyle that I have become comfortable with, and maybe I should keep art a hobby and choose a more practical career path. The ending of this poem touches on how, through it all, fighting for what I love has made me discover what really matters to me rather than focusing on my status as a prodigy. ''But I have a better idea of what it means to be Me And that matters a whole lot more than ‘prodigy.’''
The photo that I took to go along with this poem touches on how sometimes reaching for the achievements in school makes me feel like I’m drowning. Taking this photo was a challenge for me because I wanted my hands to be the ones reaching up from the water. I had to set up the camera and lighting and have my mom press the button to take the photo. I edited it in Photoshop to look darker and to have a cooler color scheme.