Teacher’s Influence I

The following is a 4 part short story designed to demonstrate the influences a young, impressionable girl may feel in an art magnet class in her hometown.

Taking a step back from the easel, I reviewed my work. Something was still not right. This artistic challenge was proving to be tricky! 

The assignment called for choosing an idea or emotion. I settled on ‘Freedom’. To illustrate this idea, I drew a picture of a boy on a bicycle, his arms outspread taking in the limitless expanse of sky. Working from that drawing, I needed to convey ‘Freedom’ in an expressionist painting.

I carefully dabbed at the canvas, putting the bicyclist in the foreground as a bold flash of red. “So, this is freedom?” Ms. Ann asked from somewhere behind me. I turned to see her contemplating my work with her chin on her fist. “Why is the bicyclist red?” She asked, licking her red lips. Ms. Ann, my teacher, is an artist and the first art she did every morning was her face. She was a powdered tan sculpture with intense blue eyes rimmed in kohl.  “I thought red was expressive and fun,” I explained. “I put the smudge of red thicker on one side to convey movement.” Ms. Ann nodded, apparently satisfied with my explanation. As she moved on to the next student, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Not even a week ago, Ms. Ann had asked Brooke a similar question. Brooke had simply shrugged her shoulders.  Ms. Ann did not like that! She ripped Brooke’s entire painting apart, element by element, until Brooke fled the classroom crying.  Teachers weren’t supposed to rip into their students, but everyone knew that in order to get a good grade you had to please the teacher. In this, Ms. Ann was no different from all the others.  If I pleased Ms. Ann, she would help me get my art work in the best galleries. I needed to please her. Otherwise, my artistic career would end before it even began.

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