The past few weeks have been a bit messy, but I’m more committed than ever to getting an ID degree. I’m leaning more towards a graduate degree than a BA given my recent experiences and advice from friends working on second degrees or that already have degrees.
“But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.” — Howard Waldrop, author and National Treasure.
One of the reasons, if not the main reason, I’m keeping an online journal of my path towards a degree in ID is to help other people know if this is the right path for them to take. You might be 17 and thinking about what you want to major in or you might be like me — 37 and thinking “wow, I wish I’d known about ID 20 years ago”.
If you’re 17, you’re going to have a very different time of it than us 37 year olds. I’m in class with people 20 years younger than me, and I’m feeling it. The people sitting next to me are mostly full-time students without jobs or significant responsibilities. Me, I’ve got a job that easily takes 45+ hours a week, debts, obligations, you name it.
If you’re in my shoes, you’re going to have to want it. You’re going to have to want it bad enough to give up on your hobbies, not see your friends as much, skip your vacations, eat your dinner while you work, and worst of all, compete with 17 year olds who have infinite time and energy.
What I’ve learned in the past few weeks is that I want it .
Ok, now that I’ve told you that story, I can tell you this story.
I originally signed up for 2.25 classes. 2 real classes (Art History of Asia, Drawing I) and a weekly credit/no-credit Intro-to-the-Arts class required of all incoming students. I didn’t get accepted until late, so I had to take what I could get in terms of classes and class-times. A drawing class at 0830 is not my idea of fun, but hey, I can’t draw for shit, so I’ll take what I can get. Art History of Asia might be a sandbag for me, given the amount of time I’ve spent in Asian History classes or reading history books on my own.
Day one: Drawing I
Dummy me, I thought Drawing I would be a class on learning how to draw. Not from Professor X it isn’t. Professor X pointed out that this was a “drawing class for artists” and that people who “just want to learn to draw” probably should take a different class. Professor X wears what some of my pals call “Berkeley Therapist” clothes. Professor X breaks the rules and wears them with socks and sandals. An art prof in socks and sandals? Unless they have a beret and are smoking Gitanes, uh, NO.
And from there, it only gets worse. (“Worse? Or better?” — Zim)
Professor X spent a good 20 minutes rambling about how important it is everyone votes, how Professor X’s kids are draft age and so is everyone in the room. Thanks for the civics lecture, can we learn to draw now?
Nope. Next we spend a fair amount of time talking about Professor X’s artwork, which is equal parts text and images with an emphasis on psychoanalytical issues. (At this point, I’m getting the fear, but I’ve had wacky art profs who taught me lots, so lemme just ride this out…)
Finally we get the assignment for the first class. No, not the list of drawing materials needed for the first class, the assignment for the first class. I’m going from memory here, but: Bring in an object that has special totemic or fetishistic value to you, and write an essay about what that object means to you.
I kid you not: First day of class will not be spent learning to draw, but will be spent in some sort of get-in-touch-with-your-feelings project.
After that, we had a class discussion about a poorly photographed surrealist drawing. I liked the drawing but the way Professor X led the discussion drove me apeshit and made me never want to look at the drawing again.
Professor X anthropomorphisized the drawing, and would say things like, “The drawing is not happy if you aren’t looking at it.” or “The drawing is sad and lonely if you’re looking at the floor.”
Professor X was proud that they’d photographed the drawing, but it was possibly one of the worst slides I’d seen of hung art since my craptastic efforts to photograph art when I was in high school. You could clearly make out the reflections in the glass over the drawing of the people standing around Professor X when the picture was taken. It looked like there were all these shadowy people in the drawing unless you (like me) had screwed up these photos on your own. People in the class would comment on the “figures in the drawing”, and Professor X would respond as if the drawing included those people. No, you moron! Those are reflections in the glass! It’s clearly obvious to several of us that it’s just a reflection in the glass over the picture! Don’t you even know what it is you’re showing us?
At the end of class, a few of us hung around to ask the typical first-day, special-favor questions: can I add this class, I’m going to miss these days how can I do the work ahead, etc etc.
Professor X was, in my opinion, extremely rude and dismissive of many of the students who had questions. Example: Freshman Goth Girl wanted permission to try and AP out of the class. News to me that one can AP out of a studio class, but hey, why not let people who can do the work skip the class? Freshman Goth Girl had a portfolio she could bring in, she’s been drawing since grade school, it’s all she cares about, and she’d just like the opportunity to show her portfolio. (Note that she didn’t demand to AP out, she just wanted the chance to show the prof her portfolio to see if her work was good enough.) Professor X never really looked her in the eye, but instead stared at the ceiling and went on about how she didn’t believe in placing out of classes and that “everyone can learn something from my class, even if you already know how to draw.” HELLO PROFESSOR X: YOU ARE TEACHING DRAWING I. THE PURPOSE OF THIS CLASS IS TO LEARN BASIC DRAWING SKILLS.
The second-to-last person to ask Professor X a question was confused by the handout listing what supplies were needed for the class. It turns out Professor X can’t even put together a simple materials list without typos that create major confusion. When the student asked the question, even Professor X couldn’t make sense of the materials list. After some going back and forth, Professor X declared that everything on the list was needed for class and left it at that. Uh, Professor X? You might want to contact the students and let them know they need a lot more supplies than they think they need. Oh wait, we’re not going to do any drawing in this class for awhile, so maybe it’s no big deal.
I dropped the class before the next meeting. A nutty professor is bad enough, but I had to leave the house at 0630 to make an 0830 class thanks to rush hour traffic and a lack of parking.
Day two: Art History of Asia
A required class, like Drawing I, but taught by a professor that actually plans on teaching something related to the class title. I thought I was going to sandbag this, but I was wrong. Turns out “Asia” includes India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a bunch of countries other than Japan and China. Whoops!
The other bits are actually pretty interesting, so I’m going to stick this one out. I don’t look forward to the group project with 3-5 freshman, but maybe I can hook up with the nihonjin in the class and we can do a group project on ukiyo-e or somesuch.
So, what’s next?
After a few online chats with some folks in ID, I’m still convinced that I need to learn to draw, to learn color theory, to learn all the other bits that are fundamentals in the art.
I found a local high school / adult ed program that has a Drawing I class for $100. No college credit, but at least I can learn enough of the basics in the next few weeks that a college-level Drawing I class will be much easier.
Most importantly, I realize now that I need to be in grad school, cost be damned.
Ok, so it’s a lot of fun hanging out with underage hotties who have ethical problems with bras, but that’s not going to move my career forward. Getting a second BA degree is going to be pretty time consuming, and time is one thing I’m short on. My goal now is to take classes that will help me build a portfolio that will get me into grad school. I don’t need to take all these classes for credit, I just need to have the chops to build a portfolio.
Taking a couple of college classes for grades will show that I can hack the academics after a 12 year break from school, so I’m going to stick out the Art History of Asia class and sign up for a couple of classes next semester. History of ID is obviously something I want to take, and maybe I’ll take a class in CAD or 3D visualization as well.
Cross your fingers for me, or as my Swedish office mate used to say, “Hold your thumb for me!” (Maybe some Swede out there can explain this one…)
 Exact names of classes and professors have been changed to protect my happy ass. One thing I’ve learned in the ~12 years I’ve been out of college is that you never know when someone important to your career’s spouse turns out to be the person you just complained about online.