Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If you can't beat them, annoy them

I left art school for a few years (also known as “dropping out”).  Things at Otis changed a lot in those years, including the addition of stupid, pretentious classes and categories of majors which have since disappeared.  The new trend reminded me of high school, when being “original” was the easiest way to conform (the 552nd punk rocker isn’t quite as original as the first few, you know what I mean?).  So our junior year drawing class (which had formerly allowed for a very broad definition of drawing) was replaced by an “experimental drawing” class, where you were allowed to do anything except to just draw.  Unless, of course, you were to draw on an unconventional object, like a piece of wood or a band-aid. In other words, it’s okay if your work has no concept, as long as you make it look like it does, by using weird materials (just fake it, boys and girls).   My bologne-o-meter went through the roof. “You mean if I draw on a rock, it’s okay, but if I draw the exact same drawing on paper, it’s not okay?”  “Exactly.”  “You realize you are actually limiting what constitutes drawing, not expanding it, right?”  It was very emperor’s new clothes with everyone embracing it, as if it made sense.  I should have just used invisible materials and saved myself a lot of time and energy.  Instead, I decided to fake compliance while plotting my revenge. 
The project I decided on was a series of 16 drawings on the back of brie boxes, each one representing a word (see above, though I later changed a couple of boxes).  Once assembled, they would create a sentence that was nonsense (which is what I thought of the class, as a whole).  I spent the semester quietly working on my piece, one word at a time, using different styles and mediums for each.  The teacher was glad I had come around and gave me encouragement for my “concept”.  That is, until the last day of class when it was time to display our work and explain our concepts.  I'm sure I didn't say, "this piece is about what nonsense I think this assignment is," but it was something pretty close.  It may not have been the worst grade I ever got but, again, pretty close.

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