While I know that had I stayed at RISD way back when, I probably would’ve come away with a degree (in photography or a BFA or something else from their estimable selection of programs), today I’m pretty sure I’m a better artist than I ever could have become at that time.
I am a slow learner of things that matter. I can memorize stuff pretty easily… at least I used to when my brain cells were nice and perky, but alas they are as old as the rest of my over-the-hill body. And fer cryin’ in the kitchen, I’ve got an impressive repertoire of almost entire movies, complete with gestures and stage direction, in my head, along with all 18 minutes of Alice’s Restaurant rattling around in my brain like a spray paint can. But as time goes by it becomes apparent that those things, while fun and good drunk party tricks for my brother to use to show me off, don’t actually matter. At least not when it comes to figuring out what I want to leave after I’m gone.
I didn’t stay at RISD long enough to learn much about style, art history, composition, or any of that. I stayed long enough to learn that my art and my creativity were so deeply buried beneath 19-year-old insecurities that I’d never find them in an environment of artifice, affectation and angst. I created far, far better artwork before attending art school simply because I was free to explore at my own pace and following my own interest and path.
Now here I am, thirty-something years later, finally ready to face my old nemesis, myself. It has taken THAT long of doing other stuff just to have a title on my door or to have a nametag on my shirt — to be an official member of society — while I secretly learned what creating is all about.
As I said… I’m a slow learner.