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Unsatisfied, I would scamper away to find his battered bamboo flute, and this time, with my eyes, silently beg him to play.
Throughout the rest of the piece, Bobby’s use of imagery brings his essay to life, with “black fingerprints and smudges” and “unsoiled whiteness” being used to describe his art.
He also uses imagery to illustrate the contrast between his organized, type A persona and the abstract art he eventually creates.
It is first utilized to bring the reader into the piece and make the introduction pop, with “Late evening rays [...] casting a gentle glow” and “the soft luminescence of the art studio” becoming “a fluorescent glare.” Immediately, the reader knows what the essay will generally be about: art.
Still, in the beginning of the essay, a lot of information is left out, leaving the reader begging for details to contextualize the mental images Bobby leaves them.
No, it was not so clean and not so white and not so nice.
But I have drawn—rather, lived—in this studio for most of my past ten years.Playing a crudely fashioned bamboo pipe, in the midst of sullen inmates—this is how I envision my grandfather.Never giving up hope, he played every evening to replace images of bloodshed with memories of loved ones at home.One such example is “the whiteness of the background” on his sketchbook being “meticulously preserved” but yet “marred by the frenzied strokes of my instructor's charcoal.” Nevertheless, imagery alone does not provide the concrete, powerful narrative found in Bobby’s essay.One of the most powerful appeals of the essay is that it represents a coming-of-age story that echoes the Bildungsroman literary sub-genre, in which characters evolve psychologically from youth to adulthood during the story.Apart from surface manifestations altogether, this realm was simultaneously one of austere simplicity and aesthetic intricacy, of departure from realism and immersion in reality, of intense emotion and uninhibited expression.It was the realm of lines that could tell stories, of colors and figures that meant nothing and everything.While my grandfather describes the horrors of his experience in a forced labor camp during the Cultural Revolution, I could only grasp at fragments to comprehend the story of his struggle. As a child, visiting China each summer was a time of happiness, but it was also a time of frustration and alienation.Running up to my grandpa, I racked my brain to recall phrases supposedly ingrained from Saturday morning Chinese classes. ” (“Hello, grandpa”), however, I struggled to form coherent sentences.And I can't tell you exactly when or why my attitude changed, but eventually my own lines began to unabashedly disregard the rules of depth or tonality to which I had once dutifully adhered, my fervor leaving in its wake black fingerprints and smudges where once had existed unsoiled whiteness.It was in this studio that I eventually made the leap into a new realm of art—a realm in which I was neither experienced nor comfortable.