I guess I should talk a little about how I got into art. Well I shouldn’t ask my old 6th grade art teacher who was under the impression that you had to be talented in sketching and painting to be any kind of self-respecting artist. Though I was pretty good with my sketching ability, my paintings weren’t up to her standards. Being the an awkward and overly sensitive artistic type, I never ventured into any artistic arena until my 3rd year in college (just to fill a GE requirement).
One semester of Art 101…one good critique…and all hell broke loose!!! I was a Home Econ. major / Theatre Arts minor, that in itself should have told me something. I continued to take art classes until I knew I needed to justify my wunderlust of art into a serious academic commitment. I was too close to throw my old major away so I added another major to the pot in my senior year… that’s when my parents stop funding me, thinking I would come to my senses. It didn’t work, but I thank them for putting up obstacles to test my resolve.
It was a wonderful time to be “into” art and a woman. The same art professor who taught my first art class in college and gave me my first critique, became the head of the Art Dept. at my little college. Little did they know that he was a “quiet radical” and free thinker. He brought in a young radical feminist, Judy Chicago, and gave her the freedom to create the first Feminist Art Program in the country.
I know it seems outrageous today, but there was a time when female artists were dismissed, ignored, and if acknowledged, thought to be “oddities”…freaks of nature.
Ms. Chicago left my little college (Fresno State) soon after the success of her program, going to Cal Arts, but not before she named her able replacement to the program at Fresno, Rita Yokoi. I was fortunate to be in Ms Yokoi’s class. It was a magical time, when there was free exchanges between the two groups.
Experimentation was key, not only in structuring the program but in the mindset of individuals. Women took themselves seriously in art, many graduates of the program becoming professional artists, teachers, administrators…and all greatly influenced by art.
Just to let some know, Ms. Yokoi soon moved on after the program to a prestigious position at UCLA Art Dept. Ms. Yokoi and Ms. Chicago had some sort of “falling out” period. The Program at Fresno State was in flux, but Joyce Aiken, an established Art professor at State, took on the challenge.
One wise person once told me…there has to be “Radicals” at first in every movement…they have to strong arm their views, be abrasive and obnoxious, challenge everything and everyone even though it may not make sense at times.
Then a funny thing happens. They are replaced by the “quiet radicals”, who add stability by reiterating the basic views of the radicals but in a more palatable way or proportion. I never thanked Joyce, but I’m grateful that she stayed.
I moved to the Bay Area, loving the weather and style of the City over the “LA scene”. Years of doing the “struggling artist” thing, living off of Top Ramien, entering shows when I could, walking through dark scary neighborhoods in the Mission to go to an art show. After awhile my slides took 2nd place to getting 3 squares a day. It didn’t happen all at once but comfort, style, vanity took over and I abandoned my art. When I look back on things…everytime I was at my lowest…the art always saved me.
Now that my health is failing, my art has come back home.