By Melissa Nieves Rivera
Format: How to
March 21, 2012
Most college students undergo certain levels of pressure and stress due to various reasons. Some of them are exams, special assignments and the list goes on. Nevertheless, there are numerous ways of channeling all those mixed feelings in a positive way. On Tuesday March 13, students of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM), learned how to express themselves through art. “Expresarte” was an art workshop organized by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). According to Unicef, it is possible to understand art as an expression of an individual’s reality. With the same definition, Miguel Nicolai, an artist from D’Arte Studio, came to UPRM to present this concept and practice it with students.
When students first enter the university, nobody tells them how to cope with the stress that classes can give them. Most of the time, the results are unsatisfactory grades or failures of courses. However, Nicolai came here to teach them how to be able to transform all that frustration into something with different shapes and colors. Many people express themselves with music, writing, dancing, etc., but with the help of Miguel Nicolai, students learned how to do it in another helpful way.
Like any other college student, Nicolai went through tough moments during his major. He entered UPRM to study engineering and failed in his concentration classes. Nevertheless, he took some art classes and noticed that he was good at it and actually enjoyed it. Nicolai found a
way to channel all his frustration into something beautiful. This was enough motivation for him to do his major in art.
As he explained his personal experience and the concept of the activity to the audience, students gathered in subgroups to begin the workshop. The first objective was to work with strangers, to be able to synchronize with each other and draw whatever they felt. As people began drawing, the groups became more connected and the final results were strange, colorful shapes, meaningless at the moment to everybody who was around looking, except to the artist.
The beauty of art, as Nicolai explained, is that a piece of art can have innumerable interpretations and still have a unique effect on people. He walked between the groups, admiring the work that was being done by the students, which later was pasted to the wall. Later, the activity took on a more personal aspect. Gathered in round tables, each student was given a paper to draw whatever came into their minds of each of their childhoods. It was explained by Nicolai that this practice can help people to remember the most insignificant memory that one day made someone happy.
Before they began to draw, they had to close their eyes and look for any memory of their childhood. Only then, they could begin drawing without lifting the pencil. It was like if your hand was drawing by an uncontrollable impulse. After the drawings were finished, they could open their eyes and see what they have expressed naturally. “You can express yourself or be the manifestation” expressed Nicolai as he went through the drawings of the students.
One may think this concept is somewhat naive but if people see it from a psychological point of view, this practice enables us to “come out from an uncomfortable state of mind and puts us in a comforting one” according to Nicolai. It can provide us some peace of mind in a moment of stress and frustration. This practice could be implemented in schools to help students and even teachers.
As the activity progressed, students became more open to each other and began working as teams; it was one of the many objectives that were achieved during the workshop. The majority found the activity very pleasant and easy-going.
Meanwhile, the workshop was coming to an end, but students seemed to yearn for the activity to continue because they were enjoying themselves more. After they finished painting and pasting their work on the wall, they sat on the stage’s floor and Miguel Nicolai presented all the pieces.
One by one, he asked each group what their work meant. While everybody explained their work, students realized that what seemed at first as a meaningless drawing became what most of them were feeling at the moment, something really important to each student.
It’s a convenient way to express bad feelings and moods; your results will be considered art. At the end, students were able to do it easily and at the same time they enjoyed it. This activity became the therapy of the day. Everybody needs to distract their mind a little and drawing certainly helps a lot.