May 2015 – I’m soon ending my Graphic Design degree program at the local community college. As the mom/retiree/“senior” member of the class, it’s been an interesting experience. I was once one of them, out of high school, figuring out the world and what I should do in it. I’m looking at it from a distant end of the spectrum, though my life’s story is far from complete. I once went to college, earned a degree, went out into the world of employment and responsibility as they now face. Pursuing the world of art and graphic design, I’m witnessing some very inspiring talent among my younger fellow students. Some of them will take the leap to go on to four-year schools, and some will go out and make it with what they’ve learned in this program.
I have high hopes for them — they will have enough challenges going forward, but perhaps some will bring them good things in life. I’ve seen how hard people work to be successful, and the rewards can be not only monetary but bring them joy and love. Many who work very hard also sacrifice a great deal. Perhaps it has taken 10,000 hours to get good at what they do before they reach success. Sometimes life treats you like it’s trying to get blood from a stone.
Sometimes childhood will feel like it was in another life, but I hope that hard work and fortune will give these young people experiences I never had when I was a kid. I’ve been fortunate enough now to see some of the world, great works of art and nature, with my own eyes and ears. I want to see more. As an art student or artist, there’s something more than just being a tourist in places where there is art. There can be a connection to an artist’s work, recent or thousands of years old. There can be an acknowledgement that, while I might not like what I’m seeing, I appreciate the skill and creativity of its maker. I couldn’t have imagined the magnitude of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling or his epic David if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Quilts made by slaves over a century ago, using what they could out of old fabric scraps, may grace an art museum as a thing of beauty, perhaps imparting a bit of their maker’s soul. Some pieces may be hideous, may make one turn away, but leave a lasting impression on us for what is possible. Donatello’s Mary Magdelene wooden statue in Florence touched me so.
I wish that my fellow students met these last years may have opportunities to see the world and meet people who inspire them. May they find people and places, see the work of artists whom they’ve only found in art history books, and find their own voice in this world.