one of the strangest byproducts of teaching kids art is it often makes you recall how you were as a young artist. a coworker and i were discussing this yesterday, and we recalled how, time and again, we had run up against art teachers who didn’t recognize our need to execute our very concrete and singular vision and made us do the project everyone else was doing instead. among the kids i’ve been teaching this summer, i’ve gravitated toward a couple who are quiet, intense and quite sure what they want to do with their work. they remind me of myself.

another thing that reminds me of myself: judgment. this morning i was riding the elevator in the art center up to the top floor to grab some paper – i was intending to do torn paper lanscapes with one of my classes as we were waiting for our pieces to fire in the kiln. as i was going through the paper, i had a sudden vision of a torn paper landscape i had done that hung on the walls of my parents’ house for many, many years. “Bethany, 3 and a half” my mother had written in her neat handwriting below the matted landscape (which was also professionally framed). i remember being vexed by the presence of this landscape FOR YEARS. every time i looked at, i was reminded of what i had intended to do with it and how the reality of it had largely failed. even at 3 and half, i was judging the shit out of myself.

i realized this is a trend i have continued in my life as an artist – in every piece of work i do, behind it is a specter of the piece i wanted it to be, that should have been. i have a hard time embracing the reality of the things i make, and instead chase unhappily after what i think it should be. it’s not a good way to live as an artist. i’m working on it.


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