Being a teen in the 80’s and young adult in the 90’s was a great time for me. I was an artsy girl who felt stifled in a private school setting. I was a rebel. I was Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club: the weird girl. I didn’t, however, hide in the shadows and pick the wings off flies.
Those later teen years were probably some of the most creative years of my life. St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va. was where my public-school-teacher-single-Mom sent me. She wanted something better for me, and struggled to send me to private school, although in my rebellious state of mind I just wanted to hang out with the punk rockers I knew of in public school. Alas, not my choice. So I became very involved in Art class. Apparently I was really good at it, and I even got out of having to play field hockey by taking a second Art class by myself, sort of independent study…so I basically spent half the school day upstairs in the Art Room. It was heaven. My teacher was a free-spirited ex-hippie who let me do whatever I want. I remember there was a cassette player up there and I used to play The Cure. He’s ask “What kind of garbage is this?” and we’d laugh.
At school, there was a period of two weeks where the Senior students (of which there were only about 50) were given two weeks off from school to work on a project of our own design. We had to think of something to do and when the two weeks was over we had to come back and report on it. I decided to design a line of clothing, make all the outfits, and put on a fashion show at the school using friends as models. It. Was. Heaven…and how I anticipated college would be.
I worked feverishly for those two weeks, sewing non-stop into the wee hours of the night and producing some really innovative designs for the times. I should add, I am no seamstress, but I could handle a sewing machine enough to produce what my drawings looked like, and that made me proud. I got my friends to model the outfits and I took a photo inventory of all the designs. (I will try to find some of the pics from back then and post them when I find them.) At the end of the two weeks, I put on the fashion show for the school. (The music was the soundtrack to Liquid Sky…great androgynous/artsy film.)
After the fashion show, teachers came up to me and the models to look at the clothes in person and I joked with them not to make fun of the two stitches I used for all the pieces. They thought it was cool. It was then that I knew that I wanted to go to Art School. My poor mother had no choice.
I remember going to tour Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. in 1987 before I graduated high school, and driving through campus I saw a punk rocker with a neon yellow mohawk. “This is where I want to go to school!” I told my poor mother. (Notice how many times I say “my poor mother.”)
Remember, I was a small town girl who had never seen kindred spirits on a regular basis, so something in me leapt for joy. I think a lot of my friends from Art School would feel the same way. There was a cultural legion at that time, surrounded by art, music, fashion, literature….we were smart, productive and going to make a statement in this world. We were artsy.
Ok, fast forward almost 30 years later. I still wear a lot of black. Not because I’m being a rebel but because it’s slimming.
I still color my hair….not because I want to shock anyone, but to cover the gray!
I still make art. Not because I want to be famous and have a New York art gallery doing a retrospective of my work (I wouldn’t turn it down,) but because I like to decorate my house with it. That cute, spunky, creative teenager is still inside me, but sometimes Life gets in the way of being able to making beautiful things. I am going to try to change that. The projects I work on now are generally just for me, but I’d like to share some of them with you now. Maybe I’m a little more practical these days, but I’m still bringing Artsy back.