Looking back on my college career I have come across a lot of different experiences in the classroom. One particular classroom experience that stands out to me the most was an art class I had taken at Illinois Central College, the community college I had attended before Bradley.
In preparation for my departure from Illinois Central College (ICC) and looking onwards to Bradley, I took up this art class to get ahead in Bradley’s curriculum to ensure that I would complete college in four years. I took this class because it was a prerequisite to another class and figured it might be slightly easier at ICC than it would be at Bradley. This class was your traditional art class where all we did was paint. I took art all throughout grade school and high school, but I was never a great painter. As a result, this made me panic that I was going to get horrible grades. The class started and immediately demanded a lot of supplies, which already aggravated me. We were also required to carry around these huge portfolio bags to hold our huge notepad of paper that we used to paint on. Everything was just so awkward and I already hated it.
The semester started out pretty slow and easy, but then it just got crazy. My professor would assign multiple projects at once to be due at the same time and there went my life. I literally spent every weekend painting. I did not have time to do anything else. I squeezed in some time to hangout with my boyfriend at the time, but that was it. I was always cranky because all I did was paint. Even though this class took over my life I was not getting the grades I wanted. My professor would always give me a “B” and nothing more. This made me really angry because of how much time I dedicated to each project. At one point there was a string of projects that utilized the same abstract drawing that we had come up with. One week we had two of those abstract paintings due, and the next project required a third version. On the first two versions I had gotten “B’s” which really made me angry because I thought I did a really good job on them. This pushed me to go up to her and blatantly ask her what exactly was wrong with those versions and what did I need to do to get an “A” on the next one. She explained to me what I need to do and I did exactly what she told me to do. Thankfully, when I got the project back I actually did get an “A,” which I was so ecstatic about. The painting also ended up hanging in the student gallery for a bit, which was the cherry on top.
From then on it was still an uphill battle with my professor. She still gave me “B’s” on everything and during critiques she would verbally rip my project apart. Towards the end of the semester I started to take it personally and at one point cried during class because it was just too much for me to handle. I have no idea why my professor seemed to be picking on me because as far as I was concerned I was one of the few students that was actually putting out some quality work. I felt that she went easy on those who obviously did not care as much as I did and who obviously still had a life.
Finally, the last projects were assigned. Finally, some light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel was still long, but at least I knew there was an end to it all, an end to all my misery. One of the projects was an Andy Warhol inspired painting in which we got to choose the celebrity and we had to paint essentially four paintings in one using different color schemes outlined by her. Each painting was a full sheet of regular print paper. It took my half a day for each square, so basically it took two whole days to paint this. I was really inspired by this concept and told myself that I would make an appropriate ode to Warhol’s unique style. I was nervous once the critique rolled around because I thought what I had done was really well done, but I just knew she was going to have something bad to say about it.
So, on the day of the critique everyone hangs up their paintings and the critique begins. We finally get to my painting and I explain what I had done. After my explanation, my professor simply says, “This is really great work Lisa. This is the best thing you’ve ever painted this semester.” I literally wanted to fall to my knees and cry. That was what I was waiting to hear all semester. I was so gratified, so happy and in such disbelief that she actually had said that to me.
I ended up getting an “A” in the class even after all of the “B’s” that I had gotten throughout the semester. When I talked to people about it shortly after the class ended, I got some insight about her reasoning. People have told me that she probably thought I had it in me all along and that she was pushing me to do better because she saw the potential in me. I like to think that was why she put me through such misery for a few months. I guess this class was the most influential to me because I have never been so out of my element, yet so determined to make things work out the way I wanted. It just really shows how inspiring it is for someone to have some faith in you to push you to your limits and beyond so that you can feel a sense of real gratification.
Moral of the story: keep on keepin’ on and you will get what you deserve.
‘Til next time!