Monday, January 30, 2012

What do you dream about?


Room to Write #2

A Memory Prompt rough draft

“Memory is a Net”

                                  -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

In 6th grade my teacher- the fantastic Mr. Stewart invited a local artist to teach us during a certain lesson plan he had. One of the art styles we learned was how to sculpt. To make the lesson easy Ms. Thomas taught us how to sculpt in Ivory Soap. Whittling that white rectangular bar was such a strange experience; it started out when you pulled off the stiff white packaging with its grainy residue on the backside and it would get on your hands. It felt like dry lotion clogging your pores after washing your hands a student would move on to learning how to use the tiny silver carving blade. Holding the blade in your strong writing hand, so that it won’t slip and you end up cutting yourself when you start making small cuts into the flesh of the bar; you hope you have good dexterity because then your cuts look more professional and you actually end up with something that looks like what you are modeling it after: a horse, a dog, a flower whatever your mind creates. The best part of the whole experience though is when you make the tiny cuts, there is this sweet smell of clean which wafts through the air up into a person’s nose and you might just remember that first bath as a child where you played with toys and built river cities or water parks and the soap was Barbie’s raft while floating down the speeding rapids which was caused by a hand held whipping instrument from the kitchen your mom thought would be fun to imagine with. She said that it could be a wave creator, a Dr. Seuss Who’s tree or any other thing your imagination wanted to create.
When I started 7th grade at Orem Jr. High rolled around we had the option of taking art and I was so excited because I wanted to step up my game of drawing and sculpting. I had always loved to draw- my first cartoon character I tried my hand at was Snoopy- (even though no one ever imagined wanting to be clumsy Charlie Brown- I did just for the honor of having such a cool dog.) I moved on from Snoopy to the Gingham Girls; Cute paper dolls and coloring books based on 4 sisters who lived on a farm in the Victorian age. I thought I could do more so my mom bought me a few paint and art perspective books and I studied and studied my little heart out alas, my horizons were off, my vision of realism was slanted and so in frustration I packed up my books and put them away in the closet. My mom bought me an oil paint set; you know the one where you trace the scenery onto a canvas and then you follow the instructions to complete the paint part? In my frustration I completed the sketch part but then put it away in fear of ruining it with the oils. Mind you this was after I had had the failures from the books. I hoped and prayed that my 7th grade teacher would teach me what I wanted, no, needed to know to fix all the anxiety I was feeling. He definitely set me straight! Teaching about Cubism fixed my horizon and perspective problems. My favorite time of the day in that art class was the first 15 minutes when we were given the History of the style we were covering and learning about the artists; Degas, Davinci, Michaelangelo, Rodan and my personal favorite Renoir. Even learning about the uniqueness of Picaso fueled another desire- the one of traveling. All of a sudden I wanted to go to France and visit Musée du Louvre; New York and visit the Museum of Modern Art (or MOMA) and Washington D.C. to wander through the many wings of the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum and all the other museums in D.C. that where within long strolls of each other. Unfortunately for me, not a single family member was interested in visiting those places so I dreamed and waited. We ended up moving my 7th grade year to another town and in that Jr. High they didn’t offer advanced art and I struggled with just fitting in and finding my niche in the land of largess- hair, expensive clothes, cars… Patiently waiting for High School didn’t solve my problems and instead of losing myself in the visual arts, I strove after the other forms, singing, playing the clarinet and the piano and yet still not fitting in. Humanities were my drive but not always my desire and I let myself down in what a chose- the more popular forms. Trying to participate in dramatic plays as a person who cared way to much about what others thought of her was not a great place to drop the culture eggs in and so I dwindled instead of growing. Flash forward to age forty-two and a new life; I am in college. I once again have many desires maybe because I see my grown, almost grown and new driver children heading towards their paths and I struggle still to even know what mine should be. I know I want to teach English with an emphasis in Literature, but besides that what are my passions, my desires and my dreams? So, this past year I tried to get into the basic drawing class to see if the fire is still there and since I am low on credit hours I am on the large rungs of the ladder for class options. I wait until the students close to graduating get their choices then the students with more credits get the next choice. I am patient in the knowledge that next semester I am moving up and can have better choices of classes and hopefully will get that basic drawing which is required before I can take the oil painting class. For all I know I might have lost my edge for drawing; I do know I can still eyeball anything I want and make it look half decent so there is still the “dream” of participating and not just observing the culture I desire. Here’s to dreaming.

DSC_0935        DSC_1104

    Mary Chase                     Van Breen

*These are photos I took inside The National Art Gallery in D.C. in 2011.  I will be going again this March and to MOMA in NYC during Spring Break.