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  • Emily Passman

Early Art Education

I have practically no memories at all of art as an activity in Elementary, Junior-, or High school. I do remember Miss Clark, an elementary school art teacher. She had blue hair. I have no recollection of anything I drew, created or any memory of the art room. In high school I unfortunately avoided the kids who were painting sets for theater, hanging around the art room, and generally immersing themselves in a creative environment.

I was not a good student academically due to impatience, distractedness, and “day dreaming”. The word nowadays is ADD. I am certainly afflicted with this syndrome yet it works beautifully for an artist! Mostly. If I dont fight it with my “shoulds”: The studio “should” be neater before starting to paint today, I “should” be painting in a far looser way, I “should” be painting in a tighter more realistic style, I “should” be a way better painter by now.

Somehow it was not cool. And I thought I was? If only I could go back. I became apathetic, angry and rebellious. I flunked out of school my senior year at Newton South High School. I was sent to an alternative high school in Kenmore Square. The Center for Alternative Education. A life changer. It was what they used to call a “Head School” in the 70’s. Everything was discussed openly and as a community; the graffiti found in the bathroom stall, whether we could smoke inside the classrooms, and sometimes even academia. Less of that. The school was based on William Glasser’s Book, ‘Reality Therapy'. I guess I needed a case of reality. I had art class there and proceeded to get fully immersed in a series, as I see it now, of drawing mandalas and very intricate doodles. I loved using Rapidograph Pens. I easily was addicted to the flow of ink. My art teacher was named Gaetano Alebrandi. He was an early advocate of mine and told me that he saw these mandalas as extremely important in terms of me as an artist. His words became the first ones of any encouragement that I had something I ought to work with.

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