Featured Lehman College Art Student – Yolanda Lyn



 I have always been an artist, even before it came and literally slapped me in the face with paint. I remembered the day that I fell in love with colour. It was in Jamaica and I was of the age of seven. It was right after an infant’s funeral in church that Sunday (my vice principal’s bay girl); I was left to figure out the new found feeling of deep sadness. I did not know the child, yet I was still affected. I did not know how to react to anything after the ceremony. I grew numb…

I grew NUMB!!!

No one noticed because they were all still grieving but I was still in shock due to the obscene of life in the lifeless corpse. When my family and I returned home, I went outside. I went outside the lot to view the gloomy evening; I don’t know why (to this very day I don’t know why), but something told me that I must look up…and so I did. What I saw was not foreign to anyone for it was a rainbow. It was no ordinary Rainbow though.

It had COLOUR!!!

It had the power to affect mood (with its colours); I felt better and filled with joy after the sighting. The sky was depressing, but the glimmer of hope that came with the rainbow was an epiphany; even at such a young age I knew that the sighting was an important milestone.

I found PURPOSE!!

Fast-forward four years from this funeral and I have not only forgotten my purpose within this time frame but have also had a drastic change of location. I went from the serene Island of Jamaica (living two blocks away from the beach) to the contrasted gritty concrete jungle of Manhattan (N.Y.C). I hopped on the plane that headed for America without even a double digit on my age (age 8 to be exact). America, according to cable was a literal heaven on earth with golden paved streets, money that grew on trees and mansions and diamonds for all. Upon arriving to J.F.K at dusk, this ideology of my new “home” was reaffirmed with the twinkling streetlights below the aircraft. What awaited me was a complete culture shock. Aside from the subtle language difference (no British dialect); my doorman in a posh Harlem residence greeted me; this is the closest to my American Ideal that was met; everything else was a watered down version of my Arthurian fantasy. Through assimilation, we take in new information or experiences and incorporate them into our existing ideas. The process is somewhat subjective, because we tend to modify experience or information somewhat to fit in with our preexisting beliefs.

My fantasy…UPROOTED!!!

In my pursuit of total American submersion I lost my sense of culture, or rather cultural identity…hence, I lost my sense of self. Assimilating in New York City was quite a challenge. With so many different cultures and ethnicity a young child would not know what to emulate. I had the introduction of “Black” Harlem culture in which comprises of street dress with a dash of “ghetto fabulous” mentality. Then there was the Latino submersion with the bouncing bodega music, screaming at you with its crescendo tempos of: salsa, bachata, merengue, tipico and so on. Since children have the opportunity to expand friendships, to work cooperatively with others, I was able to accommodate each phase of my transition well with my peers. Children who come from two or more different cultural backgrounds may face years of uncertainty and frustration as they try to work out who they are and how they fit into their multiple cultures. Harlem was America’s Stereotypical melting pot, and apparently I one of many ingredients with Americas hands on the spoon-handle of this pot: I was in for quite a stir. Once more:

I was LOST!!!

No longer in primary school, I was now in the intermediate level where we have a newfound freedom also known as an elective. “Whether we really are looking for students who take risks and make decisions – is the first question that each of us must answer. The structural and attitudinal barriers erected by educators often seem impregnable, with the result that students continue to feel powerless and, to that extent, burned out. For decades, prescriptions have been offered to enhance student motivation and achievement. But these ideas are unlikely to make much of a difference so long as students are controlled and silenced. It is not “utopian” or “naive” to think that learners can make responsible decisions about their own learning; those words best describe the belief that any group of people will do something effectively and enthusiastically when they are unable to make choices about what they are doing.” Since we cannot expect children to accept ready-made values and truths all the way through school, and then suddenly make choices in adulthood, we need to start with little freedoms gradually (such as choosing their own electives). Electives were usually the last period at the end of our school day. This enabled some needed unwinding time, because as we have all been there, Middle school is no joke; this is pre-high school and the beginning of separation amongst peer social rankings. Surprisingly although art was an offered course, I found no calling for it at the time; music was the only option within my tunnel vision. I grew up on music, hailing from the Island that discovered Reggae. Bob Marley amongst other (unknown to the American audience) Reggae artists were in constant rotation, music was an important dynamic in our country; quoting from Bob Marley’s Trenchtown Rock “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” Aside from our country’s own, I had an influx of American musical artistry, everything from Madonna’s “Ray of light”; Michael Jackson’s “The earth song” even to surprisingly what I now know to be the hits of Green Day’s “The Dookie” album. My uncle added a little flair to my knowledge of music with constant CD rotation of Classical masterpieces, Big Band and swing, smooth and acid jazz; whilst my older brother continuously blasted the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. I discovered the Greats such as Billy, Chopin, Bach, Ella, Ray, Dinah, Miles, Louis, Janis Joplin, Queen, Clapton, The Doors, U2, Chuck Berry, Marvin, The Clash, Dean Martin, The Eagles, Duke, and James Brown, Metallica, Pearl Jam, The Beastie boys, Nirvana, and Music from so many other various countries’ music on my own during my quest/thirst for more.

Music was in my BLOOD!!!

Music class was all that I imagined it to be; fun, creative, free and expressive. Perhaps it’s now obvious what instrument I chose: the drums. The drums enabled you to bang out your rage while harmonizing its beat to create a much-needed sense of disciple. “Plato once said that music is a more potent instrument than any other for education’. You will find many teachers of young children who would agree with him. Recent research has found that music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in all areas of development. Music affects the growth of a child’s brain academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.” As exciting as music was after a year, it was not enough; yes, the sounds did paint a visual pattern to your ears but it still was not enough. I needed something more tangible; I wanted to see…I wanted to paint. The following fall when a new elective could be chosen, I blazingly changed schedules and followed my best friend into her art class.

This was the BEGINNING!!!

Now, at 12 years of age there is no comparable reason (besides a mental defect) as to why I would act like a 4-year-old child in a candy store; not listening whatsoever to the teacher and going about doing things in my own manner. The only explanation/excuse would be to deprive me of true creativity. The art room was my candy store. I was now in my element, with paintbrush and canvas in hand like sword and shield from my long forgotten Arthurian tales; I was in my very own “happily ever after”. That was until the teacher threatened to chastise me for causing havoc in her classroom. I went overboard I guess; painting on the desks, gluing glitter on the walls, using her handout sheets as a form of watercolour paper. In her eyes I was a disruption and an undisciplined child, but even then I was capable of empathizing and concluding that she would never understand that the creative passion that I was unleashing had been building up for 12 years just for that very moment. No one could stop either me or my yearning to create art. That is No one except perhaps for my Principle and a good whooping from Mother.


My childhood endeavors and experimentation in the creative field have helped me by a process of elimination find a niche. Within those 4 years I searched and through different trials have connected that faithful day at age 8 to the age of 12 to my introduction to that art room. Over the years I have harvested this talent and nurtured it to now within my senior year of college have it blossom and bloom at its peak potential. With the arts, I will be able to further target a younger audience with the endeavor of honing their talents, especially students that have behavioral issues. I have realized over the years, that like me, there are many individuals out there that just need that special vessel to believe in themselves, create a sense of discipline to focus these principles and overall, just a mechanism to truly examine and express their full potential.

To the future & BEYOND.

3 thoughts on “Featured Lehman College Art Student – Yolanda Lyn

    Tiffany said:
    November 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    For many years I have known Ms. LYNN and all I have ever heard….was….”I am an artist”

    tedesca e francese said:
    May 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

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    Student – Yolanfa Lyո 1st Annual Hip-Ηop History Momth CeleЬrаtion:
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