Monday, January 25, 2010
Stranger in a strange land.
Let me began by explaining that growing up in the Town of Tonawanda didn't provide me with much multi-cultural experiences. In the' hood we were all pretty much
Comfortable Blue Collar Catholics. I had plenty of Jewish friends who lived in the slightly more affluent neighboring suburb of Kenmore but I had never even heard of a Mormon until I started teaching at Mountain View High School. I seriously thought they would be wearing bonnets and long dresses and traveling by horse and buggy (not unlike the sister wives depicted in Big Love).
Mountain View High was probably close to 75% Mormon in the late '70s. They were typical white American teenagers without the drug habits. (at least in theory).
It was a pretty squeaky clean environment for the most part and I put all my energies into my new real job. My mimeographs (the purple inked and toxic smelling hand-outs) were embellished with happy little star figures and I even invented a Monopoly inspired board game for the students to play which taught photography terminology. In my spare time, I scoured the Time/Life series of photography books for information and ideas to present to my students. The first year I taught five periods of beginning photography, my head swimming with f/stops and shutters speeds.
I began to attract the alternative crowd over the next few years. The art students that didn't quite fit the typical demographic- the post-hippies, punk rockers and generally “too cool for school” kids. We formed an after school organization called “The Click Club” and wound up beating the larger clubs out of the Best Club trophy three years in a row.
A few years back, I ran into former alumnus of said club, Fort Guerin, at the opening of his exhibit at G2 gallery in Scottsdale. It was an Oh My God experience and when I expressed admiration for one of his pieces he took it off the wall and handed it to me. When I protested he said, “ You were my first art teacher, how could I not give it to you?”
Moments like that remind you why you teach.
Thank you, Fort.