I love newly-minted college art students. The archetype of a college art class never fails to fulfill the mold in its entirety, with the bulk of its form being made up of those gut-wrenchingly endearing weirdos. Those on a never-ending race to be the weirdest of the weird. The ones that started weird in High School and take it as an opportunity to capitalize on their weirdness, with the idea that whomsoever wears their cat ears or their black eyeliner the hardest becomes the actualization of that mentality. And in turn, art itself.
I worked for just such a class this afternoon. As a passive observer whose only job is to serve the community of weird, you get a lot of time to think about what you're watching -- even if the passivity is mandatory and the observing only comes from being observed.
College art classes aren't much different from any other class structure we try to pretend doesn't exist. The difference, though, is that those who are cast to the bottom of the loony barrel in psych study become those that reign Screwed Up Supreme in the art world. In the artist community it pays to be as silently brilliant as possible. Got a cape? You've got attention. Got a painting about how that cape symbolizes the seductively secretive nature of modern society and its unquestionably self-destructive tendencies thereafter? You've got an A+.
But isn't that the nature of our evolution? That pale, skinny guy who wore red sweatpants every day throughout High School becomes Steve Jobs. The freak chick way more interested in soil composites than social cues invents planet-saving geothermal technology at age 24. Egon Schiele spent 1/3 of his life in jail. By the time he died, at age 27, he had a portfolio that would take me a lifetime to complete -- some 200 odd paintings and 300 drawings -- all done in a span of approximately 5 years. Oh yeah, and he probably boinked his cousin or something.
I've claimed my fair share of weirdness in my day. I wore neon colors and got counted for 80's day during spirit week even when I didn't dress up. I made sculptures out of rocks I foraged outside during art class. I played the silent mysterious type in college, and even cried in some corners. But I was never -- as far as I'm aware -- considered a weirdo.
But now, so many years after the jokes stopped being made and the cheerleaders hung up their pom-poms, I'm scared to death that I'm way too normal for my own good.
I'm terrified that I haven't enough crazy in me to think anything that's not been thought already; but just enough to fear the white picket fence. I'm scared to death that while I've worked a lifetime at coming to some sort of peace within myself, or self-understanding, or therapy-whatever, that I've thought myself into a hole of contempt from which I'll never resurface. Sometimes I resent having my shit together, for the most part. Sometimes I resent not having a stint at homelessness, at hitch-hiking my way from New York to 'Frisco, at always paiying my bills on time and eating organic food in a time that says it's what the cool kids do. Sometimes I'm scared shitless that maybe, despite what you've read about my communiqué with mice, I'm normal as shit.
Because what do normal people do? And what is the pain that the abnormal suffer, if only for their art? Do I stand among the tortured that spill brilliance, or the mundane that create more of the same? I like to think there is some sort of middle ground. But sometimes, in a land of Steve Jobs and Sylvia Plath, I'm just not sure.
I guess all I can hold on to at the present moment is what I'm trying to let go of. And they are as follows:
1) A preoccupation with anything anyone else is doing, at any given moment, so as not to compare my in- and/or adequacies with said party;
2) Judgements of my self worth and;
3) An unhealthy addiction to Law and Order SVU via Netflix (damn you, you budget-permitting bastard!).
With these in the back of my mind, I'm trying not to think too hard about the rest. I'll try and turn my attentions towards what makes me happy, regardless of its genius or lack thereof.
And I'll try not to worry if this painting produced out of the aforementioned desire is racially offensive or not. Sue me for working on my color theory, ok? IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LAYERING.