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A Pea versus a Pod: Finding Individuality as a Twin in Art

Neve Rechan

Throughout my entire life, a  shadow has been hovering over my individuality.  This shadow is not only my best friend, but also my identical twin, Lane. Together, we are the epitome of the twin stereotype. We complete each other’s  sentences, look exactly the same, and have the same friends.  

My sister and I have grown up to be constantly compared to each other, and Lane and I are complete opposites. She is organized, structured, and responsible. I, on the other hand, am a complete mess: forgetful, messy, yet compassionate and empathetic. Ever since my first art class in grade 7, I immediately began to compare both my art work and ideas to Lane’s.

Our first project was to make a sculpture of our favorite artist. I chose Andy Warhol, and of course, so did Lane. In a way, it motivated me to make mine better, yet I do not think that was a healthy form of competition. For three years, I convinced myself that we were copying each other’s every move, simply because we thought no one would notice.

Reflecting on it now, Lane never even considered the fact that our art was similar, probably because she simply did not mind. I suppose I was sick of always being mistaken as Lane!

After a few years of being angry that our graphic design techniques were alike, or that our paintings had the same colour scheme, I realized that maybe it was all in my head. My insecurities were able to get the best of me, because naturally I convinced myself we were becoming clones of one another.

How could I blame my sister or myself for having the same aesthetic as one another when we have been tied by the hip for every experience in our entire lives? The issue continued to bother me. The only way to stop our artwork being so similar was if we started to branch away from one another. As an artist, it is important to reflect on your own experiences in a way that only you can; you can’t piggyback on someone else’s opinion.

Portrait Painting, Neve Rechan
Neve Rechan

Our teachers who we have known for over 5 years still cannot tell us apart. Sometimes this can be amusing. I think I have been asked “Are you Neve or Lane?” about 10,000 times! Instead of getting upset, we both try to laugh about it. When we are apart, I tend to forget that people might get confused when they see one of us out and about, thinking we are the other.

Although we brush all of the confusion off, it can start to get a little frustrating. People may not think that it is a big deal to get us confused, which it is not if it only happens once or twice, but when we have experienced it for 17 years- it starts to get old. There have been times when I want to look at someone and say “Really?” For example, I have sent my peers and teachers emails in the past, and they will reply addressing ‘Lane’ when my name is clearly the one who sent them a message in the first place.

In sports teams, our coaches have asked us to write our names in permanent marker on our shirts, both front and back! I suppose the reason that we are so drawn to art instead of sports is because it gives us an individuality outlet, or maybe just because we are extremely unathletic.

This summer at a pre-college studio art program, when I was so stressed and busy, people from Lane’s class would stop me to ask question about projects, thinking I was her. They would ask:  “Have you even started any of the charcoal drawings, Lane?” and I would reply, “I’ve done a couple! See you in class!”

In eleventh grade,  Lane and I were placed in separate art classes at school, and this let us find our own learning paths. Instead of constantly comparing myself to her along the process of each project, I was inspired every time we shared a finished product! For example, Lane made an amazing piece inspired by our childhood, which was a portrait of the two of us. Instead of being jealous of her art abilities, I actually just considered how I might be able to incorporate our childhood into any of my work.

Over the past few months, Lane and I have found that we enjoy different art media. I have discovered that I love illustration and graphic design, while she likes drawing and painting. This is a win-win situation, we teach each other techniques so that we can have a variety of media in our portfolios. For this reason, our portfolios are beginning to drift apart and create their own paths.

I came to realize that Lane and I really do have completely different ways of thinking. Now, our art is our way of proving to people how different we really are.

That’s why I love art: because I can display my own opinions and emotions, not someone else’s.

Portrait Paintings, Neve Rechan
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