Conformity ran rampant in my Catholic school upbringing. Even in art, my teachers were against any notion of self-expression. In eighth grade, I was given an assignment to draw the Flat Iron Building using pastels. Vigorously, I plugged away capturing every aspect of the legendary New York icon.
However, my teacher hated my approach to drawing. Skeletor, as I like to call her insisted that the picture did not look like an exact replica of the Flat Iron. I argued, that it was my artistic interpretation. She made me change the picture, but I revolted, resulting in a low art grade.
Although, my parents were conservative, they loved my rebellious nature at times. When I brought home, my Flat Iron building picture. My mom took one look at it and said, “your bitch teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” The next day, my dad bought a frame for it and displayed my work of art in their bedroom.
Growing into adulthood, everything I was taught about art was wrong sans the biographies of famous painters. I was fortunate enough to have visited many museums around the world from Paris’ Musee Orsay to Roppongi Hills’ Mori Art gallery center in Tokyo. It opened my eyes to the notion/cliché that art is really in the eye of the beholder. No museum better exemplifies this than the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
MOMA (as it’s often referred to) is one of my favorite slices of Midtown. I wander each level with sense of curiosity. The most recent exhibits have challenged what I was taught in school.
A crumbled map, toy collections from Russia and the set of Peewee’s Playhouse were being examined like a grand Vincent Van Gough painting. Even the surrealism of Salvador Dali would take art enthusiasts time to translate the meaning.
It harkened me back to the days were my modest art was persecuted by the institution. I thought to myself ”if a crumpled up map and pictures of trailer park constitutes art, then my Flat Iron drawing can fall in the same category.”
After rebelling against my very conservative Catholic school, I found myself fighting to express myself both socially and creatively. Although, I was told that my expression was wrong, it never detoured me from mastering the art of breaking the rules. I loved every moment.