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Art school can really bring out the goofy in a person. No, really. You do find the flakiest of people. But take care to not judge - you never know what you are in for.
Highly energetic and charming misplaced California girl, Ms. P was my favorite teacher of first year. She smiled a lot and loved to laugh. She shook her blond hair and looked up at the first-day projects we had pinned across the wall. She slapped those black rimmed cat eye glasses on her face, and took it all in. “Oh, okay!’ she chirped. “I see that half of you have to redo this project."
She took no nonsense and if you did not follow directions you had to do it over. Ms. P was a friendly, sunny tower of steel. I loved her. She had high expectations. This was no flake.
That year we learned how to communicate with our audience through shape, color and composition. Her favorite lesson - and mine - was the color experiment. She insisted that color could impact a person's mood. "Oh boy." we signaled to each other with unsubtle raising of eyebrows. "We've got a real kook on our hands." We had to choose a color as a class and we were going to live that color for the entire class. And then we would observe the results. Blue was a popular color. Everyone found it reasonable. “I’m so glad she said. One year they chose red and fights broke out.” Oh, ha ha. She was kidding, right?
The next Friday, we hustled in at 9:00 am freshly caffeinated and wielding all things blue. We covered the room in blue paper, fabric, objects. We brought in things that felt blue: ice cubes, cold water. Things that tasted blue: original crest toothpaste, for example. We wore blue. Blue art. Blue everything. We listened to what might be blue sounds. Different shades of pure blue but never blue that had been contaminated with yellow (think teal) or red (edging to purpleness). For three hourse, we were plunged into an entirely blue environment. It was gentle rainy music and blue-blue-blue everywhere we looked.
At noon, we emerged from the classroom blurry-eyed and exhausted. Stepping into the NYC sun I thought, “Well, its Friday. I’ll just go to my dorm.” I had planned to hang out with my classmate, K. “Yeah, I’m tired, too.” he agreed. We went back to my dorm and he slopped himself on to my bed. He looked up at my Edward Gorey poster and the wall around it. “Wow, the composition of that poster is perfect. see - that goes to that…” he examined the composition groggily. “You know. The walls of your room are light blue.....I really just need to close my eyes.” He crashed into a dead nap. A drooly blue-inspired nap. I was too tired to care.
We found that just enough blue could soften all the hard edges in a day. Too much blue would slide you into an afternoon-consuming slumber.
We lost three or four hours that day - eaten up by the patient and quiet color blue. But we learned to never doubt Ms. P and we learned that we could harness the power of color to affect our environment.
We were also really glad we hadn’t chosen red.