Sunday, May 11, 2008

Story from my Childhood

When I was in 4th grade we did this project where everyone had to do a section of a city.  All 4th graders were going to do the same size section and then we would put it all together and have a massive city.  We were told the dimensions of the base and that we could make whatever we wanted on it out of whatever materials, it just had to be our block of the city.

Conceptually, this is a cool project.

I decided I was going to do my block with no help from my parents.  I also decided I was going to make it only using toothpicks, construction paper, tape and my only tools would be scissors.  Nothing else.  These were all materials I really liked when I was little (especially toothpicks and tape).  I made up new ways of combining toothpicks so that they would be flexible, one way was by stripping down the tape into small strips and individually connecting the toothpicks into a flexible horizontal surface.  I made houses, roads, fences, etc, on my little base that I was allotted.  I was pretty happy with it in the end.

However, when I took it to school I was dismayed.  It was pretty obvious that everyone else had a lot of "help" from their parents.  They made tall skyscrapers out of milk cartons and paper towel rolls, huge apartment buildings with shoeboxes, etc.  And here I had my little neighborhood made out of toothpicks and construction paper.

Not only was mine inferior to the others, but I received a pretty low grade on it.  I can't remember what the grade was or why, but I think I got a C like I didn't put in enough effort.  Except that I had spent hours working on it, coming up with building techniques - and I did it all by myself.

This is kind of how it always was with me in art classes in the lower grades.  One year I had to do a diorama, I think it was 5th grade, and I did mine on The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.  (I was really into Michael Crichton in 5th and 6th grade)  I made mine out of a wooden cigar box that I had gotten from some carnival, which opened from the top and latched closed.  And inside I made a small town with no people, just a car and some trees and houses with dark windows, and maybe there was one dead person (ha!).  I thought I was being innovative for using something other than a shoebox to house the diorama, that played a part in telling the story (you could latch it closed like the quarantine area) as well as using a book that was by far above the 5th grade level.  I think I might have gotten a B.

I think it wasn't until high school that people understood what I was doing and started to get good grades in art classes.


Sariel said...

Yeah, I remember when I was in preschool, we had to color in all the fruit certain colors. The watermelon would be green, the orange would be orange, etc. So when I got to the apple, I colored it red, but I also decided to leave a little curved spot for where the light reflects. When the teacher came around, she reprimanded me despite my explanations...and just for showing a little creativity.

JewishGal said...

Those teachers, they are so jaded sometimes they just don't understand artistic creativity :(

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