Technology Minded Ambition

As a kid I was always science and technology minded. I was the kid who, to her parents horror and dismay, took apart all of her toys to see how they worked. I’ve drawn all my life but my parents and I fully expected that when I went to college it would be for physics and not art. Instead my Junior year of high school I plotted ways to get into RISD. My friend convinced me to sign up for calculus and another science class I dropped them in the first week to make room for senior seminar art and to give myself an extra free period to spend in the art building.  My parents and the friend were not happy.  I was.

As soon as I’d dropped the weight of the silly calculus class (I hate math, have always hated math and most likely will always hate math.*) I began to hang out in the art building. My now former friend was sure this meant I was doing scary drugs and cutting class. In truth I was wandering about the building and school with a box of pastels and a sketchbook drawing everything in sight. I suppose slightly dusty pastels could be snorted if one was so inclined, but suffice it to say that I was not doing any drug but art.

I was building a portfolio. My first week of class I talked to Mrs. Burrows about going to school for art and she was thrilled. We discussed what I’d need to do- lots of drawing from life, larger pieces and taking slides of a select group of my work. I did the work and Mrs. B took lots of slides for me.  It was a thrilling and interesting time for me. I had my heart set on RISD but applied to UMaine Portland and Orono.

As I try to rediscover my focus on art I’m reminded of this time of my life, 17 years old and driven to succeed, driven to get into the school of my choosing and driven to make it work in any way possible. After graduation (read my last post) discovering myself over the years and being horribly disappointed with the education system I had to rediscover that drive. How do I make this work? How do I get my work into the hands of the people who love it? How do I do what I love in this life? I revisit that time in my mind, the wise and sage words of Mrs. Burrows, “Listen kiddo, being an artist isn’t easy. I spent 15 years in the Navy, hated every waking moment of it now here I am doing something I like. But I’ll tell you the road isn’t easy, you’re going to hit some bumps and you may end up being 50 before you get to where you want, but you’re ambitious, you’ll get there. Just don’t expect to get rich; the road isn’t paved in gold.” **

So here I am 12 years after graduation and I’m rethinking my approach again. Thinking about how I’m technology minded, how I’ve been able to create an education system of my own. I’m teaching art the WAY I want to teach art. I have a curriculum that I created. No ifs, ands or buts about it, it’s mine and mine alone. I have a path and a direction for the way I want to teach. I could go on here about how the modern American educational system is broken beyond repair and how art is being cut from school daily, art teachers like myself, talented devoted people left without jobs because there isn’t enough funding to go around. Math and science have to be funded but something like art that teaches students how to think outside of the box is cut.

Knowing how to use technology has been very important to my ability to develop my classes and curriculum. Learning to use it has been interesting, challenging and wonderful. It’s opened up doors to me that would have been closed just a year ago. My friend Jane has asked me to speak to a local arts organization about social networking and technology for artists. I’m hoping after OSA: Drawing 101 is done for the year I can fit it in. I think it’d be wonderful to meet some local artists and expand my stuff to an in person venue, don’t worry though, if and when it happens I’ll UStream it!

*I was okay in math and a member of my Junior High Math Meet Team. This was the case because unlike the spelling bee in which I deliberately misspelled the word canoe so that I would not have to be on stage, the math meet test was one given on paper and I THOUGHT it was a quiz. Thus I did the best I could on it, and it was mailed off to some professor at UMM and I was picked along with 3 or 4 other student to represent my school at the math meet. I scored right in the middle of the heap in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. The lame little ribbons I got labeled me as a bonafied geek almost as much as being one of 2 kids in the school in the GAT program and who actually taught herself to code on an Apple IIC in BASIC.

**Mrs. Burrows was often a woman of few words, had a boisterous laugh and was deeply intrigued by sociology and the teen mind. I loved that woman like crazy. I’d love to look her up and sit and have a chat with her. I bet even today in her (probably) 60s she’d love to see what I’m doing with AJ ning. She used to call me kiddo. I hated it until it dawned on me that she only called the kids she liked kiddo.