Wednesday, October 31, 2007

illustrations


We got there at 10:30 and the presentation started at noon, so we walked up and down the halls. I took pictures of the locks on the lockers, the candy in the vending machine, the drain of the water fountain and an empty paper bag that someone had left on top of the microwave. I went outside, then came back in. I tried to take pictures of the spaces between the paintings. I looked at four black-and-white photos, one of a broken fence, one of a tree and its reflection, one of the wake of a motorboat and one of a dumpster, overflowing with trash.

The moderater arrived, bearded and smirking. He sat in the center chair and crossed one leg over the other, making a figure four. "Talk about the school," I overheard him saying, "Talk about how it gave you a foundation to build on." We found seats in the back and listened to the artists talking about the plans they had made, the jobs they had had, the places they had lived. "I kept coming back to the foundation that I'd established in my time here," said one. "A solid foundation," said another.

The last to speak was a woman with spiked hair. "I used to think that my work had to have intellectual content," she said, "Or else, y'know, it just wasn't worth anything." She gestured at four small, carefully worked paintings that might have represented cards from an imaginary tarot deck. "Then I somehow got it in my head --" She took a drink from the bottle on the floor next to her chair. "I somehow got it in my mind that an artist has to experience everything. Everything. And I did. I've been suicidal, homicidal. I've moved twenty times." She listed the states she'd lived in, ticking them off on her fingers until she ran out of fingers. "Whatever someone tells me not to do, I just do it anyway." She looked at us. "My advice to you is to get some practical skills. Y'know something to fall back on."

She was wearing a headband with antenna-like stalks and had wings made out of a glittery fabric attached to a band around her waist. Still, it was hard to be sure if she knew it was Halloween.

17 comments:

thirtysomething said...

Sounds like she could be from here in Asheville...(smile)

slouching mom said...

A PERFECT last sentence.

Bon said...

not only do you tell a fabulous story, Naomi, but like your photographs of the spaces between the paintings, you give just enough out that what really fascinates me about this post is all that's left untold...what kind of presentation it was, why you went, who "we" are, what you do.

a gift, you and your ellipses.

Magpie said...

I'm with Bon - what was it, where was it, why was it? Why were you there?

Aurelia said...

Hilarious, the place must've been upset that the woman made that speech, considering how well they plan the presentations out.

LAS said...

I love this - I could see the whole thing unfolding in my mind.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

so there *is* something wrong with wearing glitter and wings everyday?

charmedgirl said...

something to fall back on...
the illusion of control and safety.
it will only F you in the end.

Christine said...

what bon said.

i find this post, this woman, everything was fascinating.

Zee said...

I love the irony in Tinkerbell's advice--and the mere fact that she's offering advice at all--in light of her whole story and non-advice-taking personna. I also love the antennae. I've always wished I had them. Or a tail. (But I suppose I should take that all to therapy, hmmmmmm?)

niobe said...

Zee: Exactly. We were speculating that she might have inhaled a wee bit too much *fairy dust*

Magpie: I could tell you. But then, well, you know....

Becky said...

I swear I know this person.

niobe said...

Hmmm...it never occurred to me that one of you might know her.

In fact, Maybe she's reading this blog right this very minute!!!!

(cue ominous music)

Zee said...

You're getting punchy, Niobe. I think it's time to dial down the leftover Halloween candy consumption.

I'm just sayin'

niobe said...

Sigh. Okay, Zee, okay. Let me just finish this last white chocolate truffle shaped like a mouse, complete with a satin ribbon (but non-edible) tail.

Bon said...

ps - i called you Naomi. that made me start. i'm usually quite photographic memory with names and all, and i like Niobe better.

weird.

i am unsure of the etiquette of apologizing for getting someone's pseudonym wrong, but i am actually quite embarrassed and sorry. :)

niobe said...

Bon: Don't give it another thought. It's actually somewhat reassuring, because a (very minor) worry of mine is that people will think my name is pronounced NI obe (rhyming with microbe) rather than ni O bee (rhyming with Nairobi).