Monday, May 23, 2005

Hiatus? Maybe... Not...

It has taken me almost an hour, but I am unpacked now. I would swear that I brought as many art supplies as I did clothes. Surprised?

I thought not.

The rooms are swank, to be sure. I have not one, but two queen sized beds available to me. One is a Murphy bed. I may sleep in it, just to be closer to all my supplies, lol! There is a fireplace, but I am running the air conditioning! It is hot as Hades outside.

So far, the only thing that I wish I had brought was a ceramic mug. To be specific, I wish I had the mug that Crys gave me, one that she made in her Ceramics class last semester. It seems the perfect size, and (Diana will understand this so well--if she evens reads here anymore) it would match the room perfectly.

I took over a hundred snapshots on the hour and a half drive here. Whether I will get any uploaded here is anyone’s guess. I have wireless in the conference center, but I can see myself wanting to get back to my room to enjoy the quiet and solitude. The work here is as intense as I was told it would be and, damnit if I wasn't’t the (one of ? ) first one to cry today. I repeated this phenomena later in the afternoon. I truly find learning a moving experience.

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance here in the effort to create a safe, supportive and sincere experience. I will not discuss anyone else’s experience per our agreement, I will only discuss my own. I make this declaration as much for my own benefit and out of a profound respect for the process here.

Much of the day’s discussions centered around classism and the learning experience for us and for our students. I made a major discovery around what I see as my student’s need to “get the grade” and move on.

I have often decried what I perceive as a major disconnect between their need for this “grade” and the sheer joy I feel in learning and I think I see how it happens. It was explained that many of our schools emphasize obedience and compliance over creativity and individuality. You may say “duh” but I didn't’t get that before today.

How does this relate to classism? These are middle-class educational values. I am oversimplifying a bit here for the sake of brevity, but the point still stands. It seems that upper class schools seem to emphasize leadership skills and abstract thinking and Upper-class professional schools emphasize creativity and individuality . Students in one category tend to leave school feeling valued. While we certainly didn't qualify for this socioeconomic class, I di dhave this experience in high school.

I’m still processing this, but suffice it to say that I have been very moved and felt very affirmed by this first day--and it is not over. I am feeling, once more, as though I am living a life beyond my ability to have dreamt it. I feel right and purposeful.

Dare to dream!

Later in the evening...


This evening'’s session ended about 8:30. Our assignment was to bring an item, a “cultural artifact” from our family or history. I brought a dress my Grandmother Murphy made me.

I shared how I was, as far as I knew the first artist in our family on either side, but that I always remember the people in my family making things.

My father taught me to knit, I initially learned paper mache ( the kind with flour, water and newspaper strips) from my mom, I made yo-yo’s for quilts with our ‘Welita , I had an aunt that decorated cakes (she still does), and Grandma Murphy sewed me many dresses and I still have many of them. The one that brought was the least fragile and my very favorite.

None of these people though that there was anything special about what they did, but the farther along I get in my life, I begin to appreciate the impact that they had on me. None of them thought of themselves as artists-they were simply meeting their life needs in creative ways by knitting much needed mittens, sewing clothing and constructing inexpensive toys.

This particular dress represents an innocence that I thought I had lost once as well as the playfully way that I prefer to approach the making of, well, you know... stuff.

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