Teacher’s Influence (2 of 4)

The principal and Ms. Ann met with Brooke’s parents, but no one knows what came of it. All I know is that Brooke transferred out and Ms. Ann was still here.

“These are bold, confident strokes!” Ms Ann said, coming up behind me with a smile. “It looks very good, Eugenia.” Suddenly her expression turned thoughtful. “Eugenia,” she repeated my name slowly. “Do you mind if I call you Gene?”

“Gene,” I swallowed, “is fine.” I hated the abbreviated version of my name, but somehow I could’t stop myself from allowing Ms. Ann to use it. 

She beamed at me.

Then she turned to the entire class.

“Gene has done something amazing here, people. She is challenging you, her audience, to identify with a feeling. What feeling do you see in these bold strokes?” She asked.

My stomach sank. My peers are nice, for the most part, but some of them liked to criticize.

“That red smudge looks like anger,” Isabel said, scratching her nose. “Is anger what you’re going for, Gene?”

Ms. Ann raised her hand to stop all further comment. “It’s very hard to get an emotion from these modern pieces. The interpretation must come from inside you.”

“Isabel is very angry inside,” Gavin said, agreeably. I smiled at him, appreciating his humor.

“These strokes are masculine and bold,” Ms. Ann interrupted, clapping her hands. “Only Gene has conveyed strength and boldness with a single stroke.” She sniffed, and her eyes rested on Gavin until he looked down, betraying his discomfort. Yesterday she had accused him of lazy thinking and sloppy execution.

“It’s not easy to challenge the status quo,” Ms. Ann continued, her hands curling into fists, “but as artists you must challenge! Challenge people, challenge ideas, challenge beliefs — that’s how you get a reaction! That’s how you get people to think!”

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