Talking Art with Chicago Native, Lupe Fiasco

I’m not a big art guy, but when I see something that intrigues me (or confuses me, which is what usually happens,) I want to learn more about it. When I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Wasalu “Lupe Fiasco” Jaco, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I put my ocular anatomy notes down quickly enough to go. In an art-enriched city like Chicago, if you get the chance to hear a talk directly from an artist, you go- especially if they are a native, which Jaco is.

To me, “Lupe Fiasco” was already an artist, but a musical artist. I was shocked to see that he also produces visual art. The brand new Ed Paschke Art Center in Jefferson Park held this free event. It lasted close to 3 hours, and everyone that registered was able to request 2 additional seats for guests. My sister was coming to town on the same weekend and asked me if I wanted to go (uh, duh!)

The art talk was held in a lower room of the building. Surrounded by Jaco’s art, there was seating for what looked like about 75 people for a Q&A session. Jaco then stuck around for one-on-one conversations if attendees should wish (another one, duh!) Getting to talk with him allowed me to really get inside the thought process of how he creates art. It also helped me understand his work as he sees it. The amount of intelligence and metaphorical thinking coming from him was astounding.

Throughout the whole talk, I kept asking myself, “How does he have time to explore both worlds under the umbrella of art?” He spoke of how, while on tour and performing shows, he would consistently be on airplanes. Therefore, much of his early art had interpretations of airport runways leading to and back down from the heavens. On the surface, his art seemed disjointed and almost meaningless to me. However, when he spoke about his upbringing in comparison to his current life, it all became much clearer.

Wasalu Jaco’s expansion of art for himself had me thinking of how optometry can also be “expanded” for me. Thinking of the umbrella of optometry and how people’s visual needs can be very specific made me realize that I can explore optometry- my “art-” more deeply. Sure, art and optometry may not seem to have much in common at first glance. However, I do feel they both deal with creativity.

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Discussing art styles and inspiration with Wasalu “Lupe Fiasco” Jaco.

In art, a person produces a visual or auditory specimen for themselves or for others to enjoy. In optometry, the art usually stays between the patient and doctor. Creativity can be contained within different methods of testing, or even the specialties of low vision, sports vision, contact lenses, and others. The doctor must create a treatment (physical or methodical) to help the patient. Whether that be a contact lens or the use of a cell phone app that increases print size, creativity can be very useful in optometry.

The show was a nice break away from studying and the intensity of school. Sometimes smaller, more intimate events are the most rewarding. For me, this art talk encompassed both. It also helped encourage my overall motivation. I highly encourage everyone to look out for and attend these events.

I do intend to dive deeper into optometry than the superficial surface- not only for the patients’ benefit, but for my own. I want to be able to understand certain conditions on a more intimate level. I cannot wait to be at that point, so for now, I’ll go back to my ocular anatomy notes.

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