Flakes of citrus orange and pastel yellow crumbled into the concrete, powdery chalk dusting young Tajweed Altower’s fingers. As she added the finishing touches to her creation, a bright yellow sun smiled back up at her from the sidewalk. 

Now a freshman, Altower has broadened her artistic horizons from chalk art to painting and crocheting. “I’ve been interested [in art] since I can’t even remember it,” she said. “I’ve been drawing since I was four.” 

Altower noted that her preferred way to create is painting, because it offers more of a challenge. “It’s harder to put colors together,” she said, explaining that she typically paints still life and scenery. “That motivates me to do more because it’s harder for me.” 

As for her favorite style of art, Altower gravitates towards both impressionism and realism. “They have a lot of vibrancy,” she remarked. “They look like something I would see in modern day; I love it.” 

On the other hand, there is one art style in particular that Altower cannot stand: abstract art. She explained that since she finds those paintings much easier to create, almost anyone could make one. “It makes me feel like even though I put in all this effort to make art, it won’t sell as high as abstract, because now that’s modern and chic,” she said, explaining how taken aback she was at blank canvases that were considered “abstract” being sold for thousands of dollars.

Creating art is not only a way for Altower to spend her time, but an outlet for self expression as well. “I would consider myself to be a creative person because my ideas are new,” she reflected, stating that while all ideas are from other people in general, she believes that her ideas are interesting and enjoyable to create.

Altower stressed the importance of self expression, explaining that possessing originality and creativity can be a reflection of one’s mental health. “You know that someone isn’t stuck in the same place if they’re thinking outside the box,” she explained. “I think the people that do like to express themselves tend to be more open to new ideas and don’t really worry about other people’s opinions.” 

Being open to new ideas involves trying new things, which Altower is enthusiastic about. In the future, she hopes to expand her creative abilities even further, with dreams to explore woodworking. She explained that because she’s never attempted something like it before, she would love to branch out. Altower added that since she loves working with her hands and trying new things, woodworking would be an ideal craft to check off the list.

As well as trying new hobbies, Altower plans to implement creativity and art into her future career. “I’m leaning toward landscaping,” she said.“I would incorporate art with that because I would create gardens and scenery, with that landscape – that’s my personal creation.” 

To anyone wishing to explore art, Altower offered a piece of advice.“Don’t have any rules with your creation,” she explained. “Don’t put a box around what you can create. Just go for it.” 

Story by Lily Saylor