There was never a statement made aloud that decorative or pretty art was feminine art and of no value; it was a message conveyed via disapproving looks, condescending tone of voice, and poor grades.

On the last day of one painting class, I presented my Sun in the Concrete series. I think the two pieces were well composed and interesting, but they were created a little tongue in cheek to placate one of my manly art teachers, who had spent most of the semester in his office after advising us to visit him if we needed any help, and walking out on the first day of class. I thought painting concrete with a big powerful sun in the middle, in an abstract kind of form, looked legitimately powerful and would appeal to any male art teacher.

The professor, an arrogant (what I learned later is really insecure, but who cares?) man, walked down the line of pinned up art pieces like a commander surveying his troops. He was dismissive of almost every work until he reached mine. At that point he stopped, considered the two pieces for some time, then turned and asked whose work it was. Can you imagine? He’d been our “teacher” for 20 weeks. That afternoon, with only a cursory viewing he had summarily evaluated every piece up until that moment without ever knowing the artist student. I looked him in the eye and cocked my head a bit, nodding.

He said, “I don’t know if it was an accident or not, but they are quite good.”

He left the room then, and I have not seen him since. I don’t even remember his name.

continues on page 10, Working Powerfully