Kim Balbuena “Venting Machine”

Kim Balbuena is an art student at the University of Maryland. Usually she does not share her writing but we managed to get a snippet from her diary to create this piece with her called “Venting Machine.” The piece features her reading along side a sculptural work she created.

When we talked to Kim about her writing she told us that she usually does not take steps to share her work anywhere. Her art  is something that she creates as sort of a by product of living.

This struck us as fairly odd. We asked her why she would put so much effort into creating something just to have nobody see it? In response she rolled up her sleeves to reveal a skull tattoo she has on her arm. The tattoo appears upside down from the perspective of someone else looking at it. “I got this tattoo facing me” she says, “because it’s for me. And thats the way I feel about my art.”If she’s feeling anything she needs to work through then writing it out often helps her to make sense of her feelings. We found this particularly interesting in the case of this excerpt because of her subject choice.

The final words of this piece “why me and for what?”raise questions that surely could not be answered through one vent session. Immediately in response to this train of thought the quote from the dead poets society that’s featured on Something’s about page came to mind.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

-Dead Poets Society

We asked Kim if this quote offered sort of an answer as to how despite not having come to any solid conclusions about the meaning of existence she could still feel more relaxed after having written down her thoughts. We wondered if, in writing about her worries, she was giving a sense of purpose to herself. Maybe she was fulfilling her roll as a member of the human race; expressing her passion, contributing her verse. She balked at the implication that she might be trying to assert herself in this world and emphasized again how her art is something she doesn’t try to create she just does. And it is so personal that she does not want to share it. At the same time however she acknowledged that this is due mostly to her personality type. She is very private and independent and she is striving to break down her walls so that she can establish herself as an artist.

She is very much a perfectionist and she says that this often causes her to keep her work to herself. Publishing something to her is a way of saying “this piece is perfect” and she rarely feels that way. Art can be a very personal thing and it can be scary to share it because of that, but at the same time every art piece takes on a life of it’s own the value of which it’s creator may never see if they keep it to themselves. So even if only out of curiosity for what a piece may become we would like to encourage Kim and all other young artists to share what they create no matter how they feel about it’s quality or what the reason was for making it. So sing off key, draw lopsided portraits, take shaky videos and then allow your art to prove its own worth.



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