Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Around Full Circle.

Thirty some years ago, my first exhibit of art was at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, High School Student Show. This year, 3 of my aluminum screening masks are in the open show at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts.

If you'd asked me as a high school student if I'd ever do anything with my art much less sculpture, I'd have thought you'd lost your mind. There were many more talented students in that show, than me. I was the geeky new kid in school. My father worked for GM and had been transferred from Ohio to Oregon, so I had to leave behind my cute boyfriend and miss my prom in Ohio to live in Oregon. I wasn't a happy camper about it. I was also coming to terms with the culture shock of being a Midwest honor student in the cool, casual Northwest. The only thing I did, actually out of rebellion and spite to my parents and school counselor that year, was to demand to take an art class instead of yet, another math class.

It turned out to be the one class where I felt a small measure of comfort and I remember meeting some really nice people. Ok, I was the only senior in a lower level art class, but I didn't care. I'd always loved to do crafts like embroidery and now I got a chance to try out all sorts of media. The class included drawing, watercolor, calligraphy, design, and clay. I remember being so embarrassed when the teacher went over my portfolio of work with my mother. All I could hear was how I hadn't done this or that right.

So you can imagine my shock when I saw something of mine in the student show. I figured the teacher was just being kind to the poor, geeky girl. But my 'Honorable Mention', for a small, slab built ceramic cup did encourage me. After I graduated, I took drawing, ceramics, watercolor and design from local teachers, the community college and the university. I didn't become an art major, but looking back, I realize that the love of art never left me.

Over the years, in and around jobs and kids, I dabbled with rice paper and ink, watercolor, beading, wire working, embroidery, and home decor projects. When the kids went to school full time, I went back to school myself taking classes in drawing, painting, fiber, and clay sculpture. I loved faces and masks, and slowly starting in the corner of my bedroom, my art working grew. And so did I.

I've shown my work in galleries, museums and juried shows around the Northwest for over 10 years now. I've even won an Honorable Mention. But this weekend, felt very different.

After 30+ years, here I am, again, with artwork in the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. It felt a little weird entering the tent as more than a spectator. Of course, I had to check out the high school exhibit. I was amazed at the high quality of the art work. I don't remember mine being that good. Yes, I did feel a little geeky once again and a vision of green polyester and denim bell bottoms flashed before my eyes. That's ok. I know, now, that we all carry that high school experience somewhere inside of us forever. But I also know we all grow up in spite of it, and maybe, just maybe we weren't as geeky and our work wasn't as bad as we remember. Ok, maybe not.

But I did art then because I loved it and I still do art because I love it. That's what's really important and I'm glad I had the chance to come back to where it all began.

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