Friday, July 3, 2015

Sometimes I Wonder

One of the things I got to do with Patt when I visited her after Memorial Day, was tag along while she tied up loose ends at the college where she worked. She had recently retired, an event that helped make my visit more possible because she now had time to show me around and we weren't confined to certain times because she had to be at her job.

She had this great job. I used to envy her. She was an Administrative Assistant to the Art Department at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I have an art minor. I wanted a double major in English and Art, but I found the art department at Viterbo College, where I matriculated, to be stuffy and judgmental. If you were not one of their favorite students, and they had favorites, you didn't get staff help or encouragement. Realizing this, I changed to an art minor because I had fulfilled 80% of the course requirements by the end of my sophomore year and jumped head-long into English. But I miss the vibrant creativity that is an art department.

Look! The students have a lounge. In my day, if art students wanted to mingle, we had to take over a classroom, vacating it when class was held. The theatre department, in the same building on the first floor, took over the one student lounge which was, ostensibly, designed for the whole building. It was theirs and they made life miserable for any other group of students who tried to use the space. The music department, on the top floor of the building, converted a classroom into a lounge. It wasn't as nice as a designated space, but it was a place where music students could go and be with other music students. Art students didn't have anything.

At Carleton, the art department has a building and the students have a lounge. It was filled with books and magazines about art. A former teacher donated his entire collection of books to the school for student use. I had to laugh. One of the books I had in one of my art classes, "Varieties of Visual Experience", was on one of the stacks in the lounge. It was the same cover I have on my book. The space is, as you see, inviting. I could study here.

Outside the lounge, there is a sculpture.

It was raining so I didn't go out to get a better view. Patt made me tea and I read a magazine I'd brought along. It was peaceful, even when classes were changing and the space filled with the comings and goings of students and staff.

It was the end of the year and the anticipated, and dreaded, student art show was in the hallway adjacent to the lounge.

There was a wide range of media from paintings to photography to sculpture. I remember attending the senior art shows and how frazzled classmates were to accumulate the necessary number of works for display. Looking at these pieces, I wonder how many of my classmates actually made any kind of living in art. Computer generated art seems to be "where it's at", but there is something wonderful about the tactile feel of chalk on paper. Being in this space made me long for a class in something. I took a class, several years ago, in pastels but was unimpressed with the instructor. I really enjoyed the class I took in colored pencil drawing some 20 years ago. The ability to create is a wonderful thing, but I'm not sure I have time right now, at this stage of my life, to add an art class.

I would have gotten an art history minor but the school lacked an antiquities history class. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I reversed the majors, pouring everything into Art and relegating English to a minor. I'm not sure, as I look back through the years I was in college, that I would have enjoyed that, given the hierarchical nature of the department. I learned a lot, but I am glad I went the route I did. Still, I came home with a stirring of the soul, a stirring to get out the pastels, the chalk, the pencils and create.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


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