My art is influenced heavily by how I feel, and different pop culture references. I combine the styles, creating my own, unique art pieces, mostly sketches. I see art as something people should enjoy, without any strict rules, which is why I consider my art a bit laid back, mostly in the manga style, which is where a lot of my drawings have been inspired by.
The other half comes from what happens when you take pure insanity, and try putting it on paper.
After that was finished I free-hand painted a sunset over water. Without and real purpose other then to paint a killer sky. After about forty minuets I somehow painted the sky to appear like it was bleeding. At the time it really spoke to me and came off as beautiful, although the longer I look at it the less beautiful and more garish it comes off. Another thing I created was, one sharpie sketch of Jack Skellington’s face. The original idea was to use that completed sketch as a stencil to carve my jack-o-lantern. Later on in the process of putting the stencil on my squash I realized that it was way too small, and the stencil walked all the way up the sides. That combined with having to cut the top off made it seem completely unrealistic to carve that on the squash. Instead I just carved a star on it free-hand. I thought that it would look nice, and would be fairly easy to fix if I carved it too small.
After that I was supposed to sketch a self portrait. Although I didn’t do that I did take a self portrait. The picture is grainy and its obviously not drawn, but it is black and white and I figured that was better then nothing. The real reason I didn’t sketch the portrait is because I can’t draw faces, or even humans really. So I just gave up before I started.
Really the only thing that inspires me for my visual art is what I see and feel in the world around me. I guess the reason I can’t draw people or their faces is because I try not to look at them while I’m out in the real world or on the streets. Not because I dislike people or have an issue with noticing them, but really because so many people in the world can only see themselves and the people around them, so I try to look beyond that and see the things around everyone. Seeing the background makes everything seem less chaotic, and more simplistic, so I try to zoom in on that and use interesting colors to make them stand out as much to everyone else as much as they do to me.
I would have to say that my favorite piece of work from this quarter were my ceiling tiles, because I worked very hard on them and they came out looking great. The hardest thing for me though was the drawing that we got to choose. It was hardest for me because I decided to draw the eiffel tower and it it is very detailed and complicated, but when I finished the drawing it looked almost identical to the eiffel tower.
I am excited to see what assignments we will have in Q2 and how much more they teach me about art and expressing my feelings through drawing and painting.
I find art to be a therapeutic way to release inner feelings through the various mediums. I believe that art should be a statement of what you are passionate about. We are all unique individuals with diverse opinions, values and standards. We are all unrepeatable and I express myself through my sketches and strokes. Everything I made, I put a little bit of myself into it which helps me relieve stress and feel free to not on by anyone else’s standards. My art is for me and nobody. If I cannot be happy with my own individuality, I will not ever be happy. Art is the perfect outlet to be free in your thoughts and turn them into visuals.
“Ebieh mou fey,” my mother said to me.
“I want some food from the chinese store,” I replied.
My mom said, “Didn’t I tell you to respond back to me in Mandigo?!”
“No English at all,” mom said.
I said, “How come.”
“You think you American now huh huh,” my mom said.
I replied, “I was always American…”
My Mother Aissata Camara and I always have this argument about why I don’t want to speak our language back to her. She’s always trying to make me speak, for what? I don’t understand the importance of speaking it back to her. Every single time I respond back in English, we always just go back and forth with each other.
Mandigo is a special language that comes from Cote D'ivoire. My whole family speaks that language. The first language I ever learned was English, but I knew how to speak Mandigo like it was my first language and as if I was from Cote D’ivoire. We usually speak in Mandigo to each other whenever we gather together as a family for a whole day.
“Nahya,” my uncle said to me.
“Alright.” I responded back to him
Uncle, “Why you always want to speak english all the time like you american boy?”
“Because I want to speak english,” I said.
“You used to be good good boy until you get older forgetting about our language and hang with them american boys,” My uncle responded.
I said, “I still know Mandigo and I never forgot about it and I’m still a good boy…”
My uncle said, “No, no you want to speak english all the time.”
“Sometimes I respond back in english and sometimes I respond back in Mandingo.” I said.
I also said under my breath, “Maybe I do want to be a fully american sometimes stupid, annoying ass family….”
My family and I always have this big huge argument about why I don’t want to speak the language. I know as a kid I used to speak Mandigo all the time, but ever since I started 3rd grade that was when everything started to changed. I started to speak english on a daily basis. I started to speak Mandigo less and less with every passing every week. My family and I were getting to argument more and more as I started to speak less Mandigo. The argument was about the same thing over and over. I thought they would never stop with arguments in my ear every other day.
I don’t know if I was shy about knowing a whole different language or if I just didn’t want to speak it. Sometimes when my mom speaks to Mandigo to me in public, people always stare at us like we are crazy and we aren’t from this Earth. When my family are together and we are in public and they are speaking Mandigo, I just sometimes space myself away from them like I don’t even know them. It’s not even about being shy, its about being bullied and many other things. Part of the reason I stopped speaking Mandigo is because I used to get bullied because I spoke something different and because it sounded weird to other people who didn’t know the language. I used to get called many different horrible words at school by students.
I was used to getting bullied and getting called horrible names and words, when I used to go to ESL. I was born in the United States of America, but I still had to go to ESL. English was my first language, but I didn’t know much of it. I used to speak more Mandigo than English. Every single time I used to come back to class from ESL or my ESL teacher used to come to my class and pick me up I used to hear them call me out of names. The bullying stopped when I stopped going to ESL classes and started to speak english more and more better. I stopped going to ESL classes because I passed the test and they said I didn’t need it anymore because of my huge improvement.
Why do my family care so much that I don’t want to speak Mandigo? All of these questions zoom in and out of my head. Why, why, why is Mandigo so important to this family? Most other families lets their kids speak in English, most of the kids I know don’t even know how to speak Mandigo. My family should be grateful but all they want to do is argue all the damn time. I understand my family wants me to pass down this language down when they die and when I have kids, but I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through when I was younger.In the future, as of today, I will start speaking Mandigo more to my family. I won’t be shy and try to hide that I know a different language. I will just be Fodie Camara and just be me and won’t be someone different or even try to. My family and I perhaps will stop getting in huge arguments about how come I don’t speak Mandigo anymore. They won’t have anything else to say about me speaking Mandigo because I will be speaking it more. As far as my future kids, they will be learning this language also so they can pass it down to their families and we’ll keep it going on forever. I finally understand why my family doesn’t want to stop speaking Mandigo.
I constantly code switched all the time without even realising. I remember when I was younger having to move all around the country and even outside of it. I also remember throughout all of this my voice changing. It would change from being a VERY strong southern accent to a very moletone casual accent. The part that was exceedingly bad about it was the amount of judgment I received in the process. Everywhere I went they said I had an accent because by the time I truly got used to a certain voice I had to move. It’s amazing how much people’s opinions change of you solely because of the way your voice sounds. Your voice is a tricky thing and can make or break your relationships if the other person isn't very fond of it.
I remember from the very early stages of my life having a very southern accent. I never truly noticed my voice changing until I moved so while I was in South Carolina (my birthplace) I never noticed anything wrong or different with my voice. Since it was normal for everyone else it became normal for me. Along with the voices I heard there, the culture was very different as well. People down south generally group themselves around their families and the families down south are HUGE. Everyone just seems a lot more connected. Also people down south seem to keep themselves busy a lot more often, they never seem to have nothing to do. They also eat a lot more seafood such as: Crabs, shrimp, and clams. Another thing I found that they cared about more was going outside. They always made sure you had enough time outside each day and made sure you didn't come in.
The next place I remember moving to was Barbados in the Caribbean. They also like A LOT of seafood, I actually kinda believe they like it more. They also like to have a lot of outside time. They are even very connected with one another however not as strongly as they are in the south. However everything is way more fast paced including the speech. The speech there is very hard to comprehend if you have recently come from the U.S. The language there is very slanged and doesn't even seem like English half the time due to it’s very strong accent although I don’t particularly think the people who live and have grown up there believe so. Plus everything comes out with such speed and aggression that sometimes it can be intimidating. I always thought to myself if there is any accent I would least like to be yelled at it is definitely without a doubt a Barbadian one. It just sounds so fierce and aggressive when they are just trying to be gentle. Then when the first time I got yelled at came I didn't know what do because not only was it scary I couldn't even understand. Barbadian voices completely change whenever they have any kind of strong emotion. You can always tell how one another feels just by the way you sound.
The next place I remember vividly was when I moved to Washington (State). Washington was a very slow paced take it easy laid back sort of State with a voice to match along with it. Everyone there talked so sslllooowww and melancholy I began losing my mind it felt like. I believe that this was one of the hardest transitions for me primarily due to the fact that no one understood me. To them it was like I was speaking Latin, if you asked them what language I was speaking they probably wouldn't be able to tell you. It was so fast and aggressive to them with a few words only used in Barbados. For a few months I was unable to communicate with most people I encountered wilts I was there. When my voice changed I hadn't even realized it I guess it was just a psychological thing because whenever I ask my Mom about it, it was kinda what I expected to happen. My voice slowed down to be on par with everyone else's however I still said a lot of Bajan words. I also still had the accent but, it was like the perfect mixture of the two.
A couple months after my brother was born there my family moved to Virginia. Nothing really happened here however their speech was a bit quicker and they said my voice sounded funny. However the real memories were from when I moved to New york. It only took a couple of weeks for my voice to adjust back to being faced paced and I immediately gained friends. It was as if my voice made people dislike me prior to it changing. Although I had gotten used to the speech in New York I remember then having to move to Philadelphia. Philadelphia wasn't too much of a change because speech here hardly differed from New York so it was extremely easy for me to adapt to my new environment and make many friends rapidly. So after thinking back to all of this now as a teen and realising how much peoples views/opinions on me changed along with my voice. My voice now changes extremely fast according to whoever I’m speaking with. Code-switching happens all the time sometimes without us ever even noticing but, it can change your whole relationship with somebody from the very first word you speak out of your mouth.
Average, bland, plain, boring, and proper english fell out of my mouth every time I talked. It grew into me dashing in a little slang, threw in some philly made words and then add the dominate bland english, congratulations! You have made my voice. My communication tool. I was the white boy, “The inside-out oreo”. I enjoyed it. My friend Vaughn told me “You got the perfect flow of urban and ya whiteness.”
My voice and dialect has changed a tremendous amount for each interaction I have with different people. The interactions are teachers and I, parents and I, family and I, and friends and I. Some interactions with the way I talk has grown more than others like friends and I and parents and I are the two biggest ones that have expanded and grown. A good example of me saying to a friend when I saw him when I was little.
“Whats good bro?”
Then the conversation would go something like,
“Want to ask your parents to have a play date after school?”,
and then now it would be
“You wanna chill after school and grub, man?”
Then my conversations with parents started off as,
“Daddy (or mommy) what’s for dinner?”
and now it would be like
“Yo, what ya gonnna make tonight?”
The transition of our language is just natural, we all do it. We will not live our whole entire life speaking like we are 5 years old but the step into talking like a young adult may be different for all of us. Some people may stick with the complete proper english and talk like that. Some others like me, may make the transition into adding some slang and talking a little more “urban”.
I feel as if the case for me were the multiple transitions of my surroundings. When I was 7 years old I moved from Society Hill where everyone speaks with proper english to West Philadelphia where it starts to get more african american populated. The other big transition in my life was leaving a private school (The Philadelphia School) where everyone responded to proper english. From there I changed schools to a public school (Meredith) where the language completely changed.
There were a lot of things I learned from that school like that South Philly kids talk weird. Water was now “wooder”. I learned what “jawn” meant. “Ratchet” was now a word. Sauce and Gravy had two completely different meanings and “Crayons” was now “Crowns”.
Even the non South Philly kids also had a special way that they talked. “Yo” and “bro” were thrown into every single sentence. We did not eat anymore, we “grubbed”. Wearing nice basketball shoes was now cool and the recess sport was now kickball and not soccer.
At The Philadelphia School, it was only proper english. You never heard “Black English” in the school. It’s not like it was prohibited it was just the amount of african american students in my grade. There were two out of the 36 of us. Then, at Meredith you even heard “Black English” come out of some teachers mouths. Out of the 62 of us it was probably about around 60% african american and then 30% white. That is when it really started developing into my voice today. It was after the move but when I came to that school it picked up intensely.
I started there in sixth grade and that is the point where we turn into teenagers. It was a really big change for me and I had no clue what to expect from the school. That is when I was “The white boy.” The jokes were all in good fun so that was not a bad thing. As the year went on the way I talked was changing a little bit. I started using some of the slang words, hey turned into yo. He wasn’t my friend, he was my bro. We weren’t a group of friends hanging out, we were homies chilling.
From noticing what everyone has said to me about the way I talk, even things I do notice, I know that I am distinct. I am my self. I enjoy very much being who I am. I come from a proper english Jewish family, and I come from a proper english German family. I am different and it is amazing to know that. Philadelphia itself has made a huge impact on my life. This great, diverse city.
In James Baldwin’s essay; If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? I have found a quote that ultimately describes why my language has changed and how it has changed. “People evolve a language in order to describe, and thus control their circumstances.” What this quote is saying that a language is evolved based on their circumstances meaning what is going on in their lives. My circumstances were living in a heavily white populated neighborhood and then moving to a greatly diverse neighborhood, those were my circumstances thus my language evolved.
By doing unique art projects such as painting ceiling tiles or making some sort of jack-o-lantern, art became fun again. The only art that I practice outside of school is photography but as I continue with this class, I believe that I will become inspired by the other students in this class and by the other artwork that I will create.
The hardest piece of work that I completed was the self-portrait drawing. I'm not good at making my pencil move in the strokes that my mind thinks of, but I did learn something about myself as an artist: I need to keep trying. Even though it was extremely challenging, I simply kept with it and ended up with a product that while I know is not spectacular, I am proud of.
I am excited to see what the second quarter brings. I am ready to open my heart to inspiration and create artwork that I take pride in.