As I travel along my illustration / picture book making journey, I will always cherish my avant-garde-garde education.
One thing I loved about attending fine art school was having a “ridiculous” idea and knowing there would be at least a handful of people willing to have a thought provoking conversation with me about it.
During my third year, I took a performance art class that ended around 9pm. Having never created an art performance in my life coupled with the fact that it seemed like a class only for the artsiest of artists, I had to try it out.
My first performance ever consisted of me combing my hair out until it was so long and fluffy that it covered my face- after which I put on my glasses on over my hair. I was told I reminded someone of a muppet. I was wearing a flannel, and someone referenced grunge musical performances. I hadn’t planned on the glasses part (because I was improvising), but after I was done I heard amused chuckles.
Unconsciously, I think I combed my hair out because I wanted to cover my face (my history of shyness) and I had pulled my hair back my whole life- self-conscious of my thick curls. Someone had recorded my performance, which you can view here. Watching it back still makes me slightly embarrassed (though, if you want to see another, far sillier side of me, watch this!)
That performance was a hit with my class and especially with my teacher. A kind of thing doesn’t always happen with art pieces. It was a ravishing experience.
In that performance class, one artist breathed in deeply trying to make herself hyperventilate until the teacher nervously stopped her. Another artist made some sort of large panty hose body suit and moved around in it like she was a creature trying to escape from a cocoon.
When I would walk out onto the street after my late classes, especially after that class, it felt like I was stepping onto another planet.
That super artsy class made me realize the power of simplicity, working with what one has to work with, and entertaining even “ridiculous” artistic ideas.
After all, in art making, the deeper you travel into your own imagination (even if many people around you don’t initially understand it) there will eventually be special people who will come along with you.