not from this world
had been taking print classes at the Cornish College of the Arts and
gotten pretty good (I thought) at print. But there was more - Cornish
had a 5th year program - designed to train you to be an artist for real-
and this prestigious program wasn't anything you could just sign up
for. You were to go an plead your case to the entire art faculty in
a closed door session - read trial. No one was allowed in - just you
and the faculty. Completely confidant, I went in and spoke with the
faculty. A week later I got a letter saying Dear Chris...
Chris we feel that you are not passionate about your work. We
will re-review you work at the end of Summer. (And then say No.)
I set my jaw and determined to get to work. It was true that they weren't MY photographs, so I made some new prints using photographs I had taken myself - and these new prints were even better, but in truth didn't represent any real progress, and I knew it. I messed with this and that - and May slipped into June. I was spending lots of time in the print studio. Then in a twinkling of the eye it was July. I had nothing new and beginning to feel the awful truth closing in that I would not be taken seriously as an artist. In desperation I called my advisor, a print professor & a superb print artist herself. I'm goin' down I said I got nothin'.
I have nothing exciting and new to show the faculty at re-review.
Lets have coffee she said - no lets have breakfast.
So the next day I trailed down to the Market, to Cafe Sport. It was swanky place where people wearing ties have breakfast. She walked in, and her husband came in with her. I had never met him, I the only thing I knew about him was that he was also an artist. We sat in a booth- the two of them across from me.
They were opposites - she was tall, he was not. She was beautiful, he was not. She had an omelette. He had a whiskey. He wore a backwards baseball hat and mirror sunglasses like Clint Eastwood.
I had the letter from the faculty in my hand - and I said "well I'm concern--
em! - dun't
mean dick !
(That's D-U-N-apostrophe-T) - - I hadn't even gotten the D in concerned out...
Everyone was now looking at us. OK --I said... and put my letter down. She didn't pay any attention to him - or anyone else. She said
"don't worry - just WORK. - and don't be careful. "
Fireworks to be sure. But I didn't have the feeling that I was taking anything useful away from that meeting. With no thought, and no new hope I went into the empty studios at school. Remember it is July. I took four big sheets of Arches cover and taped them together.
I drew the first thing that came into my head. It was Blue Figures. I drew and drew - and the radio was blasting. The paper was close to my face, and I moved back and forth, drawing like mad. This is my favorite part of Art making - where you let it pour out of you. I was also drinking a huge thing of coffee. Eventually I had to go visit the boys room. The empty building echoed as I came back in, the door closing behind me. And to my shock I saw something I had never seen before. : THIS.
I hadn't seen it until this moment - it wasn't as though I had drawn it myself - it was as though I had FOUND IT there. It was like a magic trick - I was struck by it and stood there for a few moments. Excited, and again slightly mystified, I did a second and third piece. And then I decided that there needed to be a mama; a big piece that was like the mother of these three.
For my re-review I took only these three new pieces. Unlike the previous time I was very nervous, and my throat seemed to be drying up like mad. I was holding a can of Mountain Dew, but it didn't seem to do any good. The faculty gazed at me, and as I spoke I had no idea what I was saying - I could hear my mouth speaking. And it sounded awful. It sounded like blather - and I broke down and said:
ya know , I - -- - - ...I don't know what I am supposed to be saying - I don't know what you want - and ... well, look- there is this place that I've been to - ok? It is a race in France - and it is 24 hours long - and you try to stay awake for the whole thing - ....and at 4:30 in the morning when it isn't dark anymore, but it's not light yet, there is this spooky glow - a weird glow
and it's not from this world. It's from
some other world -
And I stood there feeling hopeless.
The head of the Art Department said that's it you're in. I said what ? Then they all clapped, which I was not expecting. And then they all got up and shook my hand. I was of course relieved, and then thrilled, privately. But I was still sort of not quite sure what had just happened.
those first four big pieces