“In any form of creativity, self-expression, or art, you’re giving away a little part of yourself. You’re confessing and owning up to
insecurities, desires, ideas embarrassingly ambitious, ideas embarrassingly normal. You’re owning up to being a real person. Who wants to be one of those? It must take a superhuman to admit to being human.”
— Tavi Gevinson in Poetry’s July/August 2015 issue.
That’s why it hurt so much when one day an ersatz teacher had me place this icon up at the front of the class with everyone else’s icons for critique only to proclaim to the class that my icon was not an icon and pass on to the next work. This comment hurt me and it hurt her. It hurt my feelings and it exposed her lack of kindness and humility. As a former teacher we are trained to know that students learn best from teachers who provide gentle encouragement and positive reinforcement. I don’t know why this person chose to react to my work in this fashion on that day. I only know that after a time I needed to leave that fine community of students whom I still miss. Not everyone will always like your work. Even among wonderful artists there is and was disagreement. DaVinci, for example, always envied Michaelangelo’s talent and commission of the Sistine Chapel and so criticized his work to anyone who would listen. It is difficult enough to deal with one’s own self doubts and real failures. But denigration is a whole other thing. It is an ugly thing, redolent with pomposity and arrogance and, when done publicly reminds one of playground bullying. There is underlying hostility there. And so, if you have the misfortune to encounter someone who wishes to treat that “little part of yourself” with unkindness, my suggestion is to find another teacher. Even if you must work on your own, making successful steps a millimeter at a time — you will do so with with a peaceful mind and a peaceful heart.