Monday, May 27, 2013

Art Ed Breeds Contempt

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I had felt contempt for my students at some points of the past school year. This video may help explain what could cause such singular emotion to erupt within the soul of an college art instructor - this was literally a hair away from happening to my little flock:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Were You Slapped by Your Bishop?

In honor of Confirmation season, go over to First Things, read Brian Doyle's piece, which I quote below. Read the rest and laugh your head off. Norman Rockwell would have mined the scene like a treasure trove. 

I will have my print issue in the mail soon.

"The day I was granted the Sacrament of Confirmation and was admitted with full rights and privileges to the Church Eternal got off to a slow start, because the bishop was late. There had been a rain delay at the Mets game, but His Excellency couldn’t just leave the stadium, because the Mets were playing the Pirates, and this was the Pirates team with Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell and Dock Ellis (who would pitch a no-hitter a month later while stoned out of his mind), and anyway the Mets were coming off their shocking championship the year before, so who would leave on account of a little downpour? 
We waited in the school auditorium as our parents and grandparents and disgruntled brothers and sisters rustled in the searing heat of the church. It was a roaring hot day and someone in the choir fainted. My dad said later he could hear a hole exactly the size of an alto in the choir’s subsequent performance, but we think he was teasing us. Finally the bishop arrived, having left the game in a huff when the Mets made their fourth error of the day, and the ceremony started.
Our older brothers and sisters, who had already been Confirmed and were pretty smug about it and claimed there were secret rituals and code words they could never reveal to us on pain of death, had filled us with stories of the bishop slapping kids in the face as part of the ancient Sacrament, and while none of us could figure out why exactly a slap figured in a ceremony that seemed to be about welcoming new members to the army, we were suitably forewarned, and there was a lot of loose talk about slapping the bishop back, and ducking his hand, and bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali, or catching his hand as it came hurtling toward your face and leaning in companionably and whispering not this time, big fella, and remarks like that, mostly from the boys, although two of the girls, I remember, were coldly intent on slapping anyone who slapped them, and one girl said she would accept the first blow and turn her other cheek for a second slap, but we thought she was just trying to impress Sister Marie."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hello, summer!

It's official: I'm on summer vacation. I have had to pinch myself to be sure.

Let's revise that: I HAVE BEEN on summer vacation since Tuesday, that is, after I posted the grades online.

Since the final exam, I had dithered, deliberated, over the grades I was going to assign, enduring repeated flashbacks of each student's quality of work, extents in efforts, time spent at the easel, pursued major, even individual temperament. I had lost sleep over the consequences of my "judgement". I consulted colleagues, even KDM on my criteria; I prayed for guidance and truthfulness.
In short, I took it seriously and suffered indecisions.

My deliberations and agonies paid off.

On the day the grades were due, having consumed my accustomed amount of a.m. coffee, I sat down by the computer, logged on the grade page, found the names, typed the grades in, submitted all, logged out, and never looked back.

I have no qualm for wanting to evict these names from my mind for a while. I've cared and fussed over them for sixteen weeks. I've alternately felt affection and contempt for them, justified and rebuked my conflicting emotions throughout; I've managed to come out wanting to be just fair and true (because I'm sorta under the yoke, and I don't mean just the ethics, you know?)...

Now I just want the leaf turned over and move on.

I commenced my release by making this painting -

May Flowers, oil on canvas,  8"x10" 

for my parish carnival which is set for this weekend. Being a true last-minuter, I started and finished it the day before yesterday, after three tumultuous (yes it's that serious) previous starts (painting has gotten painful in these parts, even a tiny and utilitarian one like this, but let me not digress). To speed up drying, I used extra dryer in the paint. Still, it will need a "wet paint" card beside it on the silent auction table.

Then, yesterday, KDM, the families of his two sons, and I went to Crystal Bridges, to see the blockbuster Norman Rockwell exhibition that I had wanted so badly to see.

And we all had a ball, from KDM down to the 22 month-old. The size and diversity of the crowds, many gray-haired and in wheelchair, were like nothing I'd seen in all of my museum goings. Norman Rockwell have united the snobs and commoners alike in art. The museum, founded by members associated with a mega-business known for efficiency and organization, looked even a bit overwhelmed and disheveled. Nobody seemed to mind it, though. And I was all too happy to see so many flocking to an art house, and none needed my instruction or grading.

Too bad viewers weren't allowed to photograph either the works or the throng. But neither Norman Rockwell needs introduction nor does his work lack reproduced images. Still, I want to share this exhibition header from CB's website:

As I slowly recollect my story-telling, expressive consciousness, you may expect a little less desolation around this place.