If someone had told me back in 1977 that young men barely past their Clearasil years would be saying “What’s your major” to me at age 40, I‘d have said “No way!” Well…”way!” It was all part of my experience as a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where I took some non-credit courses in the summer of 2000. Here’s what I wrote at the end of that first day of classes.
Of course, the best part of starting a new school term is planning what to wear. I attempted to look the part of a tragically hip art student by wearing my black-and-white camo pants and an Avirex t-shirt topped with a fisherman’s vest purchased in a Tokyo thrift shop. For accessories, I chose my typewriter-key earrings, a bracelet made from rolled-up comic strips, and my Harajuku Swatch (with the phrase Orientalmagicity Tokyo, it’sabrassring, apieceofcake, howfan-fu**ing-tastic! printed on the inside of the band). Sort of a radical Fab2K update of my ’70s college look (which consisted of a variety of glam-rock influenced platform shoes that I wore through rain, snow, and sleet).
I even applied extra coats of Banana Boat self-tanning lotion the night before so that I would have that spring break college chick look. But I was no match for the real Art Student. First, I don’t have a single piercing on any part of my body other than my ear lobes. Second, I‘ve never looked good in any of the RGB, CMYK, or Pantone hair colors favored by the true Bohemians. And third, it was just too hot a day to wrap myself from head to toe in Gothic black. But that’s okay. Being different is good, especially in art school.
The students I encountered were very friendly and made a new gal feel right at home. Classmates were eager to help the old student re-boot her computer, unzip her files, and control-click her shortcuts.
At lunchtime I shared a table with two teenaged girls, Kim and Kristen. Kim asked me if I was enjoying school. “Very much,” I replied between large mouthfuls of a sandwich the Art Institute calls a Po’ Boy (I guess it’s the local version of the famous Louisiana treat, Pittsburgh-ized with Isaly’s chip-chopped ham). In going with the flow, I said to Kim, “What’s your major?” “Interior design,” she replied.
I half-jokingly asked if her course work included a class in Feng Shui. Kim blushed, saying she’d never heard of Feng Shui. Relishing this opportunity to mentor a younger student, I said, “Well, you know how sometimes when you walk into a room and you feel like throwing up? Well, that’s because your furniture’s horoscope signs are incompatible, your duct work is in retrograde, and your windows are in the yin position instead of the yang position. Result: bad Feng Shui.” Kim assured me she’d look into it.
Oh, you’re probably wondering about my course work. For the next 12 weeks I’ll be learning how to draw and design on the computer and also how to import images and manipulate them. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. More software. More expensive Mac hardware. A new scanner and something called a Firewire. Zip disks, too. More stuff. More money. All for the sake of shameless self-promotion projects.
© Dana Spiardi, August 7, 2015