While figuring out how to pay for it in a hostile atmosphere of kids trying to “out-genius” each other, I doubted hourly whether art school was worth the debt.
My opinion is kind of how Miles Davis put it in his memoir – the expensive Juilliard snobbery paid off in improved trumpet technique and music theory foundation.
In every few self-absorbed “artists”, a friend or instructor had a genuine recommendation. I made the acquaintance of queercore, “My Own Private Idaho” and The Story of Junk by Linda Yablonsky in GLBT Studies. I sat outside, chain-smoking in shock, after watching the end of “Paris is Burning” and learning what happened to Venus Xtravaganza, a trans woman who dreamt of becoming a model.
In an intro photo class, I found Diane Arbus, Robert Frank and Nan Goldin. They presented the impossible-to-overlook and fucked-up realities of life and defied the photo-major aloofness I endured in that class. I’d heard of the confessional poets, but until an intermediate poetry workshop, I’d never dived into Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton’s work – or even Patti Smith’s.
These artists taught me that yearning and anxiety are universal, not just in art but in general, and I’m indebted – thousands of dollars of debt and passive-aggressive jabs notwithstanding.
“Girl Band.” pen and ink. 2014. See more of my work in the gallery.