Last week I said goodbye to the most recent crop of graduating seniors in painting. This is the card for their show, featuring Tyrone's chipped tooth. I'm usually fairly dispassionate about the comings and goings of art majors and, truth be told, more often than not I'm glad to see them go. After all, art is a much more personal endeavor than, say, marketing. By the time I've spent upwards of six semesters with them, I know too much about the vagaries of their personal lives and I'm ready for September's clean slate.
For some reason, May 2009 is a different story. This group of students challenged me in a hundred little ways that made me a better teacher, and I want to take a moment to thank them here:
Rachel, thank you for never letting me get away with a damn thing. Every day you managed to remind me of my own disorganization, and you made me answer all of your questions thoroughly. If I was ever tempted to dance around an issue, you brought me up short with the kind of raised eyebrow that is the province of the President's scholar.
AJ, you argued long and well about the differences (or lack thereof) between painting and digital painting and, what's more, you enjoy arguing almost as much as I do. You created a final exhibition that was rich in both form and content and I hope you feel, as I do, that our disagreements played a part in making it what it was.
Jackie, thank you for creating work that left me speechless on numerous occasions; we all know that's not easy to do. You challenged me to think in new ways about style, genre, and technique, and while I don't have any plans on building my collection of fantasy art any time soon, you showed me that my way wasn't the only way. Thank you, finally, for humoring me.
Tyrone, you took so long to get your BFA I considered adopting you. Thank you for letting me be a witness to the transformation of a shy kid into an artist with talent, drive, and conviction. You have a lot to say and a way of saying it that is purely your own. You'll be the one, someday, to endow that new painting studio I keep talking about.
Corey, you are fearless. Thank you for showing me that there are still students willing and able to challenge themselves every day to be better. You are one of those rare people who says "yes" far more than "no" -- in other words, an artist.
I'm going to miss you all. Go out in the world and paint well.