II. I’ve Come To Take You Home

I.

It’s easy to forget we haven’t been blogging all our lives and that we’re working in a new medium. The limits for the medium have yet to be established and adventurers have created new forms of blogging right and left; one of my favorites is the artist blog. I read quite a few of them, and refer to my favorites all the time. It has been my great good fortune that their authors turn up in comments and I follow them back to – goddess help me – blogs so brilliant and fluid I should be ashamed to address their humans by their first names. Vanx’s Verb-Ops is a sterling example of what is possible through blogging that would not have been in any other form before except performance art. There’s an old joke.

Q: How many performance artists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I don’t know, I left.

I felt the same way about college. It was possibly short-sighted of me to think interdisciplinary degrees weren’t just my cool idea but that other people would agree and let me learn what I needed to learn to make the kind of art I was already making successfully, and if I didn’t love the program in my head I could go to grad school later. Ah, so it goes. In a classroom, I’m a wrecking ball, so it’s probably just as well I dropped out. Twice. Anyway, what Vanx is doing with his blog is what grad school should be like. I want him to go teach little children they’re already artists, and I know he can do it because – if you can believe it – I already have.

There’s a program in New Jersey called Artists In Education. You apply. You are interviewed. You are seen not to be a public menace. I did all this, though I was in a very angry frame of mind at the time. Why they accepted me, I have no idea. I showed up for the interview with a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke and with my underwear as outerwear; you would’ve thought they’d close the schools as I approached. No, the Arts Council sent me to I think four or five schools for four days apiece. I have a great deal to say about the evil that is the bad teacher and the marvel that is the good teacher, but that’s not the point.

In one classroom in a grammar school I don’t remember there was a little boy who did not speak. I was there with another artist to coach the third graders through writing poems. Most children don’t really need all that much pushing and will readily join you in writing of any kind. I spent a little while with this little boy, Alex. His teacher warned me off, saying he wasn’t going to write or talk, so I went back to him with crayons and encouraged him to draw a picture of something he liked. Then I moved on to some of the other kids. When I came back to Alex, I found this:

Alex’s 3-1 November 1993

If a person was two go out on a boat and Ride on the shinng sea and ruf waves to go fishing for fish crabs and lobster. If I was to Ride a boat I would have to Ride the dark sea.

summer spring fall winter

I can’t stress this enough: his teacher was shocked. A photocopy of this beautiful thing hangs in my cubicle in the library. I wonder where Alex is now but I am not sure I really want to know, since a person responsible for his care had so little faith in him.

We are emissaries from a possible future. We only seem to be here now.

III.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s