Thursday, November 29, 2007
Art Alliance talk
Last Light V
A couple of months ago, a friend who teaches at University City High School in West Philadelphia, asked if I was interested in talking to a group of his students at the Art Alliance, while my show was on exhibit. I met with the class last Wednesday around 11:30am. I got there around five minutes before they arrived and had just taken off my coat as the group of 18 or 19 students and three teachers came in. They were all around the 15-17 year-old age range, just about the same age I was when I first started taking art seriously.
I introduced myself in the hallway before they got into the galleries and told them a little about what they were going to see and let them roam around looking at the paintings. About a couple of minutes in, one of the young women approached me, pulled out a small painting on board with an outlined, stylized figure of a woman in the midst of an abstracted background, and asked me what I thought about her work. I was a bit surprised but honored that she was so forthright with her request. It was good to see that she wasn't shy about presenting her work to an outsider and wanting their opinion. I talked with her about the painting and a photocopy of a still-life that seemed to be inspired by Matisse.
Both of the works were good for someone of her age and skill level. I thought she had a good eye for color and told her so. I also mentioned that she should keep working and to continue working from life to develop her skills. I wanted to say more about her work, but I didn't want to spend all of the time only with her while there was a bunch of other kids who either had questions or wanted to escape as soon as they could. Acutally, most of the students were really engaged with the work and had a lot of good questions and comments. One of them was eager to share his socialogical interpretation of Plume, which boiled down to "the colors underneath equaling people of color with the white (man) ruling over everything..."
Once they'd had their fill of looking at the paintings, I gave the group a short talk about my life growing up in Philly and my development as an artist. It felt good to have the chance to address a group of young kids, especially since most of them might not have come into the Art Alliance on their own or any other art-related place, for that matter. I don't know how the trip might have affected any of them, but I'm hoping that some of them got something from it.