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Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and have had a good start to the semester! I’m sure that I can speak for the majority of us in saying that I am very excited to finally be on campus and have some semblance of a social life once again!
For those of you that are new and do not know me yet, my name is Riya Aggarwal. I am a sophomore in LSA Honors studying Molecular Biology with a double minor in Art & Design and Sociology of Health & Medicine on the pre-medical track! Art has been one of my greatest passions for my entire life, and in this blog, I share my love of art through discussion of different aspects of my Hindu culture.
I invite you all to take a look through my past blog posts on arts, ink. to get to know me and my voice a little better. In my blog, I will be discussing many aspects of Indian culture and customs as well as my own experiences growing up in a strict traditional household. I love to recount ancient Indian mythology, explain the meaning behind my culturally rooted artwork, and share aspects of my heritage that I have grown to love and cherish. Apart from that, I love spreading the word on some of my favorite artists and the people that have influenced my artwork as well both technique-wise and conceptually.
The goal of my column is to open up conversations about different cultures and religions. Each Monday, I will feature an art piece that demonstrates my experiences growing up in a strict Indian family, simple technical pieces, or whatever seems to tickle my fancy that week! These posts will not be limited to conventional forms of artwork such as drawing and painting. Being a henna artist, I love to showcase henna designs as well and hope to begin making video lessons on how some of the designs can be replicated.
I am truly excited to start my second year of writing this column and to share my love for art with all of you! If there is ever anything specific that I mention in a post or any questions regarding the topics that I discuss, please feel free to leave a comment!
Looking forward to next Monday!
Personal website: https://riyarts.weebly.com/
“I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand.”
This week’s Scribble includes lyrics from Disorder by Joy Division, released in 1979, and is inspired by the spirals I tend to get caught in when I spend too much time in my head, something I’ve caught myself doing a few times this week. Lead singer, the late Ian Curtis, once said “All my lyrics are open to interpretation by the individual and imply many different meanings, therefore their relevance is purely subjective.” This makes the lyrics perfect for me to interpret in the way I need them most right now: trying to find my way back to myself in a time of stress and anxiety.
“Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?”
This is my first semester of college with in-person classes, and, sometimes, balancing schoolwork with my social life isn’t easy. With the stress of midterm exams, the deadlines for papers approaching, the countless clubs that I am a member of (I adore all of them, but they are still commitments!), the pandemic, illnesses, and other conflicts in our community and world, I haven’t quite felt like myself this past week.
“Lose sensations, spare the insults, leave them for another day.”
Luckily, for every emotion, I am always able to find a song that, while not necessarily alleviating my stress, makes me feel understood. Today, I found catharsis by sitting down, putting on my headphones, playing Disorder on repeat, and leaving the deadlines and stress behind to tap into my creativity and draw for a while. It’s little things like this that help me relax and reconnect with myself.
“”I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.”
Having a few off-days has caused me to focus on gratitude, which is one of the most effective tactics that I use to help me feel like myself again. It’s led me to reflect on how grateful I am to be here – at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, learning, making friends, creating art, expressing myself, and being surrounded by people who bring out the best in me. I’m so incredibly fortunate to be somewhere that helps me be my best self, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my art, and my emotions, with you.
Listen to Disorder here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BIElTtN6Fs
We are rapidly approaching the end of the semester which means I only have a couple of posts left. This week I’m posting a day late because my organization, MUSIC Matters, held our biggest event of the year. If you attended SpringFest day festival or the night concert featuring Hippo Campus – I just want to say thank you. We all appreciate it so much and hope that you enjoyed it.
Moving on, this week we are talking about Mentality Magazine! I had the opportunity to speak to Liz Hoornstra, the current editor-in-chief of the publication. She explained that the magazine aims to do two main things: 1. Create a sense of community for its members and 2. Destigmatize mental health through writing. As someone who has been focusing on taking control of my mental health for the past year, I was really excited to learn more about how the magazine has done this and how others can support their mission!
Mentality Magazine typically publishes digital issues, with a printed copy done once a semester. This semester marks an exciting milestone for the organization: 10 printed publications (and 5 years of being an org on campus!). Some of the topics they’ve been focusing on most recently deals with the impact that the pandemic and racial injustice towards the BIPOC and AAPI communities have had on peoples’ mental health. This follows in their larger commitment to diversifying the magazine’s staff and writing focuses, including highlighting marginalized voices in mental health discussions. I was excited to hear that they’re taking on these topics so directly, as they have affected us all in different ways over the past year and are, in many ways, directly tied to some of the most widespread mental struggles on campus.
Mentality Magazine has also recently partnered with steps wellness, “the mental wellness platform for college students”. The platform helps connect students to licensed therapists, provides safe, private spaces for them to have therapy sessions in person or through video call, and allows them to share and read about their peers’ experiences with mental health. This is something that I found incredibly important. Especially in college living situations with many roommates and with most therapy sessions being virtual right now, it can be hard to find a space where you can talk about your struggles without worrying if others will overhear or barge in. This partnership shows that Mentality Magazine is really committed to helping students at every level of their mental wellness journey.
Liz also explained to me that COVID has sparked some important conversations regarding mental health equity and accessibility, things that people were sometimes skittish to talk about before.
“We welcome any and all members to Mentality, but we also are very open that mental health is not a topic that you can be apolitical about and we have to recognize that, holding a space in the mental health community here at Michigan means that there are certain times when we cannot stay silent. I hope that going forward, that is something that we are prioritizing.”
If you’re interested in getting involved in Mentality Magazine, you are welcome to join at any point! They look for writers all through the year, so you don’t have to join at the beginning of the year or semester. You can visit mentalitymagazine.org and fill out the contact form and a member of their exec team will get back to you about the next steps. If you don’t have enough time to be a writer, or that’s not your personal skill set, you can still do other things to help support the magazine and its important mission on campus! Reading and sharing articles is so important – de-stigmatization can’t happen without conversation.
That’s all from me this week! Thank you so much for reading and I will be back next week with my last post of the semester featuring a capella group 58 Greene!
Stay safe & stay well,
Happy Friday, Arts, Ink. Readers!
In case you aren’t tired of seeing my amateur paintings yet, here is one I created today. I’m not sure of the title yet, but I’ve been thinking of calling it “Assimilated.”
I hope you are able to take a moment for yourself as the semester winds down. If you’re looking for something to do, I highly recommend turning towards art – such as painting – for stress relief. As evident by my work, you don’t need to have experience or artistic ability to enjoy it!
[To read an introduction to this column, please see the first paragraph of the initial post here]
This week I would like to feature a poem I found recently that I think is powerful and important to read. It is from the accomplished poet R. Erica Doyle, and her words about the poem are given at the end.