I have been thinking about a former student lately.
I do a landscape painting unit where we spend some time drawing outside on the school grounds. Our school property has a public jogging path that is heavily used. Some of the students will sit in the middle of the jogging path and I go around and ask them not to block the path. In this particular year I had a difficult group and some of them would not budge. Along comes a bicyclist all decked out in bike gear and wrap around glasses. He starts cursing at the students, which was not appropriate or expected. One student jumped to his feet and started yelling back at him. "At least I am not a loser and I don't wear spandex and live in my parents basement!" Along with a few more choice words. "Jack!(not his real name)," I said, " you can't say things like that, you are going to get yourself in trouble someday."
"But Ms S., I know it's immature, but he is a grown up and should know better, but I am just a kid."
Well, true, but the whole interaction it was out of line.
Early last week I learned that this same student, now a junior in high school, had murdered his father by stabbing him to death. I feel devastated. Even though he was a difficult and troubled boy, I kind of liked him.
That is something I hadn't expected when I started teaching: that some students will break your heart.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
For the second time in 24 hours, I found myself lying on my back in a public space in New York City.
The first time was in SOHO. We had gone to an art opening that we thought would be installations of light and sound, but was instead three sets of googles, remotes and headphones dangling from a ceiling of an art gallery. After standing around a very hot room and gradually getting closer to having a turn, they closed the gallery. So that was a failed experience.
My son Victor suggested we check out the Dream House. The internet told us it was closed, but we walked to the address and were buzzed in. We climbed up two flights of creaky carpeted stairs as an incense smell intensified. A young woman in a sun dress (this is March) greeted us and asked us to take off our shoes, remain quiet, take no pictures, and to please make a donation.
She then opened a door to a small apartment glowing in blue, magenta and purple. In the main room about ten people were sprawled on the floor. A giant sound of buzzing, humming and beating filled the space.
The second experience was at the Whitney. Laura Poitras' show "Astro Noise" is about surveillance in the post 9/11 world. The show consists of projections, documents and video clips, some large, some small. One room had a carpeted platform in the middle and a large projection on the ceiling. The projection is of surveillance footage of the night skies over Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Once your eyes adjust to the dark, you realize that people are sprawled on their backs on the platform. So you wait till someone leaves and there you are lying on your back in a museum in New York.
It's kind of mesmerizing watching the stars shift across the sky in the company of strangers. But the best part of the installation is when, several rooms later, you walk into the final room and see that an infrared camera has been broadcasting the unsuspecting viewers lying on the platform to the public.