Teaching art uphill both ways

You can just check out right now with an x in this box [   ].
This post is a nightmare.

D'you have "Don't tell me what you dreamed last night!" tattooed on your neck right behind your ear? You can order the t-shirts, hoodies, and bumper stickers on-line.

I'm not saying I've got a technicolor dreamcoat, but all of a sudden the dream struggles teaching art became the real-life nightmare of managing the refugee crisis. My old counselor would advise the dream is never about Them. Dreams are always about You. For the moment, this dream meaning is the uphill struggle of the refugee crisis, and not so much about whether I am symbolically cleaning the paintbrushes of my life.

My teaching dreams often tumble from an almost-manageable classroom to an overwhelming slanted situation. I'm instructing from the pit of a sloped lecture hall, but more and more students keep arriving tardy through the doors at the top of the hall. They are unruly and loud, but the problem is my lack of amplification to deliver the art project instructions. We will be painting with poster paints and cheap brushes with the bristles all worn down. There's no way to distribute the papers and paints and brushes, especially with the continuing influx of students. We don't have enough tables, and the crowded children are beginning to bicker and wrestle. There's no time to explain the choices the students must make outlining shapes in their compositions. There's no procedure for cleaning the brushes or putting art in the drying racks, especially not before the school bus schedule begins. I didn't even have enough art smocks for all the kids. Nobody writes their name on their paper. I can smell the powdered tempera paints and the crumbling, faded construction paper. The sink is clogged again.

Oh, Lordy, we's all a gonna die. And, yes, we all are. That we ever get to make art or express ourselves is a miracle.

The refugee crisis is a recurring nightmare nearly as ancient as mankind. We are never prepared, supplied, able to communicate, or to handle the clean-up. We can't decide how to outline the shapes in dripping black with worn-out brushes.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder


seana graham said...

Wow. My work dreams were always about excessively complicated problems at the cash register. Not quite on the same scale.

As I think you're tapping into the collective unconscious, I think the mantra would be, "We have enough. We have enough." With 40% food waste in this country every year, I think this isn't just wishful thinking.

Not sure about the craft supplies, though. Maybe they could be made out of oakum?

Kathleen said...

Nightmare indeed. Sometimes I dream that way, too, entwining the personal and local with the international and universal...in scary ways, yes, but probably internally wise ways, as well. Last night I dreamt of partner dance competition. Hmmm.