Friday, April 8, 2011

I Have Been In An Art Museum

Many years ago I was in an eighth grade Art Class taught by a wonderful woman, Mrs. S, we'll call her for anonymity's sake. She often had me watch over her class while she ducked out to get a cigarette or take care of other matters.

When we first met I was very down in the dumps about my father's insistance that I not eb part of the school orchestra, despite passing with very high marks the music exam. Dr. P, the school's orchestra director even called my father to try to beseech him to allow me to join the orchestra. I was the only one whose parent would not hear of it.

So I ended up in Art Class, which seemed to be where most of the students who didn't have any other elective ended up. It was considered an easy A.

I was despondent and determined NOT to make an A. I felt forced to be there, and it was NOT where my true heart lay. I loved music from early on and I loved classical music and what could be done with classical instruments (think rock orchestras) with a red hot firey passion.

Mrs. S seemed to take an immediate liking to me and took me on as her personal project. She, it would seem, was determined to get me to like being in Art Class.

The first thing she did was get me involved in doing things that none of the other students were doing. If I showed any interest in anything that she had hanging up around in her classroom or, as in this case, that I saw her doing, then she jumped on the opportunity to get me involved.

Did I tell you that she was a wonderful teacher? Well, she was even better than that. She was amazing!

I happened to see her doing crayon etchings and she immediately gave me free reign to try it for myself. I began creating all sorts of things. My first piece was simply a large LOVE sign that looked very psychedelic with that just dropped acid appeal of those days. In other words, I had lain down a layer of various blotches of crayon colors, then I used a black crayon to color over that. With my "canvas" thus prepared, I set about scraping (etching) the letters L-O-V-E.

I was HOOKED!!!! And Mrs. S. knew it. Sly little fox that she was!

My next piece was a horn and wings, a symbol I used a lot during my youth to represent a creature from one of the earliest versions of my main novel. The creature's name was Karnilyus. Yep. Spelled just like that. lol And she was a winged unicorn who sacrificed herself for love.

After that I created a rather elaborate scene using this crayon etching technique of the Karnilyus leaping to its death from a rather rocky precipice. Able to fly, but willing to die for the sake of the one she loved.

Now, we fast forward to the latter part of eighth grade when we, as a class, were given the opportunity to work with clay.

I have to tell you, eighth grade was not the first time I had wrapped my hands around clay, it was in third grade. I made a "mountain lion" for some reason. It was featured on a small segment on a local television station along with a handful of other students' creations from various schools in the county.

I was thrilled to be working in that medium again. Thrilled! While the rest of the class set about laboriously churning out pinch pots or coil construction pots, I was creating the creature that Karnilyus would be reincarnated into, a winged girl. No. Not an angel. A girl with wings.

We had the toughest time getting her to stay together because she was very very delicate in construction and this was just common earth clay that we were using. I remember when Mrs. S. came up to me the next day, Intern in tow, both looking desperately scared. Mrs. S. broke it to me as gently as she could that the wings of my girl had broken off while firing in the kiln. I instantly dropped my head down, but she was so quick to put in, "But I think we can save her!"

That's when I learned about a different type of slip in which bits of steel wool was introduced. We essentially glued her wings back on, refired her and she was good to go.

Now, because she was so delicate, Mrs. S. was not inclined to glazing and firing her for a third time, so she made a rather surprising suggestion to finish her--

"Shoe Polish."

I admit, I looked at her somewhat dubiously, but she assured me that my winged girl was going to turn out beautifully, and indeed she did! So much so that she was chosen to be showcased, along with a few other young artists' pieces from various schools in our county in our local Art Museum and critiqued by a guest Art Critic from New York City.

Alas, none of the students were invited to the critiquing. But the next day when Mrs. S. and her Intern came back from the event, they were ecstatic.

They grabbed me and took me off to the side to gush about how the Art Critic had taken to my little winged girl as if it was the most breathtaking creation he had ever seen. One of the things I remember that they told me was that he said that he could feel her getting ready to take flight. They also informed me that he had spent more time discussing my piece than any of the others.

Of course I was utterly thrilled.

That same day one of the local reporters assigned to cover this event called the school and asked to speak with me. Me! I was flabbergasted to say the least.

I ended up giving her a brief run down of the story behind the piece and she then explained to me that she wanted to purchase her. That really excited me. I would never have imagined anything like that happening to me. So we worked out a price and she stopped by my house after school to meet my dad and pick up the sculpture.

And, that's the story of how I have been in an Art Museum. ^_~


Anne Marie said...

No, I haven't been in an art museum, not that way! That's a fantastic experience to have had. And makes me wonder if you've continued to dabble in sculpture, pottery, etc.

Lesa Kay said...

I have continued, but only intermittently, alas. I really do love the medium, though.