What I learned in school this week…
Another amazing and surprising lesson on seeing and observing in our drawing class. We were told we would be making silhouettes and cutting them out of large sheets of black paper. We had the option of articulating them like shadow puppets. That was all I got from the explanation. I’ve quickly learned the magic of this Professor’s method: he leaves out as much detail as possible to allow our imaginations to ferment and soar, then he throws in a surprise or two to really confuse us out of any preconceptions.
This week, I got to class early, and since some students dropped the class, while new ones joined, I didn’t immediately question the presence of this oddly dressed, older lady who was moving furniture around the room and clearing the model platform. When she started asking the teacher questions it became obvious she would be the model. When everyone got to class, the teacher very nonchalantly announced that we were to use the model to make our silhouettes and to try to cut her figure right out of the paper, instead of drawing her first. He of course did his usual mumbling ramble of alternative ways of doing the activity; which, I believe to be another purposeful trick to break our preconceptions and force greater creativity.
Well, I mentally threw my hands in the air and dove into the paper with my scissors. As this class is really giving me opportunities of letting go, I hardly noticed the odd little old lady disrobing in front of us and talking to herself as he got into her pose. I almost had to force myself to remember she was a person (Seems like a strange phenomenon to me, but the models become normal objects to draw). Almost, but it was very easy, as I could see her shaking at the effort of keeping her pose still. I had very little time to soak in the expressions on my classmates faces, as I had to get the work done, but I would have loved to just sit and watch them, as they watched our unabashedly naked older model. I did take a few moments to watch her standing there and marvel with gratitude at how graceful she was. I’m pretty sure the narrative I imagined for her somehow ended up in my work, but I didn’t have time to really get lost in it.
This may be an obscure reference to some, but she reminded me of Ruth Gordon’s character in the movie Harrold & Maude.
I still couldn’t imagine what all these odd cut-outs would look like on the walls. It was only after a few went up, that magic occurred and the room was transformed into as shadow puppet theatre. Our homework was to make another silhouette at home, possible as a self-portrait, but again the instructions were blissfully unclear. My mind has been wandering ever since class. I’ll be sure to share what I make, and hopefully the new creations of my classmates as soon as possible.
For now here’s a closer look at the collage parts from the featured image: