I started a blog in November of 2008, to which I have made a whopping 3 entries. I did it more because I was supposed to than because I wanted to, and the intent was to log only my art business stuff. The problem is, I had not yet progressed enough in this new venture, to have regular news to post. In addition, it is not my style to be so by the rules professional. Any successes I’ve had have been by doing things my way within the constraints of professional expectations. While I am trying hard to follow some basic models of Internet promotion, I am also working by instinct as I always have, and need to remain true to my voice. What I wrote in my first attempts is not my true voice, in fact I am somewhat embarrassed, but feel it is important to share in the context of starting over with more honesty. I have always been one to share myself openly, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have a loopy and sketchy past, which has brought me to this place, and all of it colors my current work. My intentions were good in November, but misguided, which brings me to the topic of this post.
I am a late bloomer. I expect I will talk about that in depth at some point, but for now I mention it only in relation to this story. I graduated high school young, at 17, but did not successfully attend college till 11 years later. I went to Moore College of Art, an all girls’ institution in Philadelphia. As a 28-year-old woman (so I thought) with mostly 18-year-old classmates, I felt confidently challenged, and somewhat superior in my first freshman classes. Harold Jacobs taught my 2 dimensional design class. A noted sculptor, Mr. Jacobs was arrogant, brutally demanding, and notorious for making the girls cry. My group was pretty tough, but there was more than one incident involving Harold Jacobs and tears. Once I even came close myself.
The final project for the 2-D course involved a montage of photograms. We had several weeks to learn the process, come up with a concept, and produce a majority of the photograms we would use for the final piece. A week before the project was due we were to make a presentation of these prints, along with clear sketches of the completed project. In my normal fashion I procrastinated, but I also outright avoided making my photograms. With a clear idea of my goals and all my materials in hand, I day after day remained terrified of going into the darkroom looking like I didn’t know what I was doing, which of course I didn’t. But how could I allow all those young girls to see me flounder. Ha! I learned quickly that my worldliness and street smarts did not substitute for knowledge. Finally, just one day before the deadline I made a few successful prints. Enough to know I could achieve my goal, but way shy of the assignment. I showed up the next day with my handful of prints and an intelligent, articulate verbal sketch of my plans. I was creating a portrayal of the irrepressible life force in the universe, through a kaleidoscopic myriad of leaves, literally bursting from the surface. Blah, blah, blah. I was brilliant! When I was through Mr. Jacobs remained silent for an uncomfortably long moment, and then said, “Well Gwyn, the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The end. It was clear to Mr. Jacobs that I had no prayer of completing my assignment. With shame rising in my throat, I clenched my teeth, kept my chin up, and sat down. The following week I frantically went through at least 2 packs of photo paper, and spent the entire night before finishing my montage. It came out pretty much as I planned. The images of leaves spiraled out from the center, and then actual leaves “literally burst” from the edges of the board. It was rather impressive, and a shame I have no record of it. So in that too familiar state of vertigo that comes from lack of sleep, I battled my way on and off the train with my 32”x40” project, my tackle box of art supplies, and my huge backpack. Trust me this is not a popular position to be in on the 7:30 am commuter train. I then navigated my way through the busy morning streets in CC, and got the beast on the wall moments before class started. I titled it “The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions”. Mr. Jacobs chose not to comment on my piece during the critique, just looked at it and walked on expressionless. I got an A.
I love telling this story because it is still one of the high points of my artistic life, of my life in general. This attitude got me through college with honors, and a best of senior show award. I earned my good grades frequently challenging my professors with unconventional timelines, materials, and ideas. This proved less successful in the working world as I have struggled through many job and career changes, losing a piece of myself at every turn. Now, making my way back, as well as moving forward to a more authentic self, I want to remember the girl (face it that’s what I was) that challenged Hell and won. As I begin a new chapter of my life, personally and artistically I will be true to her. Perhaps I’ll end up in Hell, but I’m not worried.