Oy!! What a crazy, messed-up week it's been. I try to remain focused and positive on the end-goal, but it becomes very difficult with the numerous road-blocks that keep getting thrown up in my way. There are times in this journey I feel very overwhelmed and ready to give up. I came very close this week. I have to find a better coping mechanism. It is far too easy to be told "oh you just need to just let this stuff go". Well, they aren't me. They weren't told as a teenager by someone I idolized that I had no artistic ability. This journey is about finding me. It's about taking back me. It's about finding my own voice. And I don't understand why educators in the art field find the need to tear apart their students. Maybe for some it's fuel to motivate them to bigger and better things. Maybe for some it is easy to shrug off the words as meaningless. But for me, they are a reminder of before. They are powerful and hurtful. They raise every doubt I still harbor inside me. Yes (again) I know that words cannot hurt me unless I allow them to. But there is something fundamentally wrong with "the system" when I get to ignore what was said and they blithely continue like what they said has no impact.
I was asked to present my body of work to a professor for feedback...for discussion on the principal of studio art. I have a website as a portfolio, so I presented that. Not all my work is listed. I have many, many paintings and photos that aren't here. (Note, I updated the gallery pages this morning to better showcase my work; for the discussion I am writing about here, the gallery page had a synopsis of both digital and painting works listed together) But it does show my latest work. He quickly scrolled through the images and then said it was "unimportant and not relevant." When I pushed back that it has meaning for me and that's why I paint what I do, he said, "it's not appealing for an audience and I need to think about that." Again I countered with it had meaning for me of nostalgia or evoke an emotional response, he replied with "that was meaningless in art-world." He then went on and pointed to one painting he liked and did I know why it appealed to him. I told him I couldn't begin to guess, but I could tell him why I painted it. He said that wasn't what he asked, and asked again for me to tell him why that painting alone appealed to him. I could only shrug. How am I to know what is in someone else's mind, let alone someone I really don't know? He then said how I had anthropomorphized the subject and it could be human or animal and it was almost abstract in quality. He said more, but by this time I was spinning. I tried to tell him why I painted it and was again told that doesn't matter.
I'll let you pause here.
Unimportant. Meaningless. Not appealing. Not relevant.
Who says this to a student? What lesson could this possibly teach? Are you so inflated with your own self-worth that you cannot hear the words you are speaking to a student?
Monday night was a very hard night to get through. Even now, writing it out, I'm a bit emotional. I forged ahead Tuesday. I made great progress in my painting class (working from live model on a figure painting). And then I stayed after to talk to painting professor. I asked him several very pointed questions regarding critiquing student work. When he shared with me his experience with a teacher who discriminated against him, I asked him how he handled it, and how did that shape him as a teacher. He told me that he knows not everyone in his class will be an artist. But he treats them all like that's their goal. He said that he doesn't like every piece of art he encounters, but it's up to him to find the positives in it regardless. I told him what was said to me and I could tell he was shocked. He said that I need to let it roll off. It doesn't make it right, but I need to remember my audience begins with me. And OF COURSE it matters what I was thinking and feeling while I was painting. Otherwise it wouldn't have meaning. He told me that I was a very good painter.
His words helped to settle my head. I find it incredibly ironic that since I've transferred to UA, the professors outside of my selected college love me, and I've had nothing but issues with those inside the art department (with the exception of my current painting professor). Not everyone is going to be shaking their pompoms for Team Susan. I get that. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also understand that too. But at the end of the day, aren't you supposed to be a decent human being who lifts their students up instead of knocking them down? Moral of this story is that I have another name to add to my "Never Take Another Class From" list. And my self portrait painting was declared one of the best in the class and will be displayed in the Fine Arts building.
So, yes. Been an interesting week. I've somehow in all the chaotic bullshit of this week missed turning in a paper for Italian Folk Tales class. Sigh! I'm now off to research and write 750 words in hopes that professor will review for feedback. Plus there's ALWAYS Italian language work to be done. Have a good week everyone and do something nice for someone. You just never know what they might be going through....