In my class, Birth of the Modern we were discussing the bourgeoisie vs. the avant garde. My teacher Marlena Donahue paraphrased a thinker named Greenberg who proposed “Culture has to be in the hands of somebody that is willing to do more than sell out. We are the last protectors of real culture. If we just make taste for the Kardashians where will culture be? It will be the end of an elevated culture.”
As an artist, one must choose which way they want to go with their work. One can either stay true to their vision and create art that is meaningful that can educate the masses, or one can sell out and create things that will be entertain the masses. No. We must be innovative individuals and be true to our art – this is the Avant Garde. It is our duty to elevate the masses, to show them things that they do not understand, to educate them with new ideas, to make them think.
I create art for myself, I design for myself, I express for myself.
As I make progress in my studies in art and design, I have realized that I do not care whether people understand my work or not because it is for myself. I do not want to sell out – to make things that lack meaning for the masses. I want to make fewer, more rare, beautiful things that come from within and that fit with my vision. I will not sell out because the nature of my creation comes from a place that is pure. I have known from a young age that it is my purpose to be a fashion designer. If one is lucky enough, from a young age, one knows who they are and what they are meant to do. As a child I took small paper doilies from restaurants and folded them into dresses. I created small paper books, where I drew women wearing different garments. When I was a kid as I went to sleep each night I would dream of clothing. I would flip through images in my head of different things that flashed through me, like a viewmaster toy. I am one of those lucky few that has held on to their childhood dream. Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Growing up, I struggled with further discovering who I was because I felt confined by school. I did not feel that I was learning, but rather my creativity was being squashed. I went through a phase where I tried to ignore what was within me and to go about life as many other people did, but it never worked out. I could not deny that there was something within me that saw beyond it.
Clothing is an expression of who we are as individuals – that is the most beautiful thing in the world – to be different – to be bold – to not be afraid to show who you are. I could tell you many designers that inspire me, but the reason that they inspire me is because they create from a vision that is their own; it is unique and one can tell that it comes from within them. I aspire to do the same, but to do so only as I can. I do not want to try to be like anyone else, I seek to be truly myself. I need to make the world a more beautiful place by creating things from the world that exists within my head. I want to create the dream that I have for my life into a reality. I plan to translate my vision into clothing that I want to wear and if other people would like to wear it too – good. If not, that is okay too.
Voltaire said that in order to cultivate the entire area, you must cultivate your own garden. In order to make the world great, you must cultivate your own small plot of it. You must learn for yourself, inquire, observe, and create. The Avant Garden.
I am not yet where I want to be. There is still so much for me to learn. There are many skills that I must acquire before I share my work with the world, but I know that when I get there I will remain true to my vision.
Do not sell out.