Mixed Media Artist

Stories

These are stories about my art and the insane happenstances that surround it.

"The Plight of a High School Art Teacher"

Prologue:

How does an artist fail at Art class? With style and grace, apparently. Some kids just learn differently and some teachers are just not equipped to handle the nuances of alternate learning. Others, like me, just like taking the piss out of teachers. Oppositional Defiance Order (O.D.D.) they call it, and I had a terminal case of it. I was so unmanageable as a kid that my mother almost used it as an excuse for birth control. "We didn't want another after you - there was a darkness in your eyes."

"The Plight of a High School Art Teacher"

In High School, I had a teacher drawn straight out of a comic book villain. Wait, let me start this tale a different way: there are many teachers out there who are killing themselves to do the best possible job teaching kids in subhuman circumstances. Then, there are those who are just phoning it in; complacent, compromised, and bitter. That was my teacher. She must have held the record for the longest scowl ever seen on anyone’s face. I’ve seen Chernobyl victims who had more cheer. Needless to say, she wasn’t warm, encouraging, or even an artist.

Fast forward to an entire year of back and forths between us, arguing over assignments, technique, and me shouting young punk phrases like, “ You can’t teach style you ol’ slag!!”. But the laughs and random penis drawings couldn’t last forever. Graduation was coming and it was time to get serious. My teacher eventually sat me down and said, “ You have one last chance to finish an assignment on time or I will fail you.” Watching that scowl twist into smile…..I knew she was serious. Despite my innate proclivities, these were the rules of the school, and I had to play the game. I worked like a beaver on coca leaves trying to finish that damn painting. I ended up completing it in the wee hours of the morning, That next day I was walking so tall and confident that I had done it, I had met the challenge and conquered. But amidst the patting myself on the back, I forgot a keep component to the assignment: it had to be turned in that morning and not during my class period!. I scrambled to turn it in and cleverly placed it amongst the other assignments hoping she wouldn’t notice. She did notice.

“Rene, I am sorry to inform you that your assignment is late and you will not pass art class.” I said, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!I” in that Vader prequel kind of way. I was panicked. How can I fail art? What would I tell my mother? How dare they fail me and then let Pasquale (who obviously traced over a photograph of a bird for his final) pass the class. Oh, because he turns everything in on time…that’s right…conformity. I was depressed for a week, sadly kicking cans, long stares out windows, and filling the pain in my heart with burgers. My life was over.

A few days later my friend said, " Hey man, I love your Vietnamese woman hanging in the library". I said, “ Whaaaaaaaaa……come again now?” I ran to the library and there it was, with a ribbon on it saying, " Best in Show". That teacher, who had not accepted my assignment, still managed to enter it into a regional competition. I stood there looking at that best in show ribbon swelling with rage. The rage soon subsided, and a new emotion sank in - pure ecstasy. I had her. This was checkmate. With a smug smirk on my face and the filth of my teacher's unethical ways, I marched into that principal's office and demanded that I graduate. He agreed. As I walked past that teacher during graduation with my diploma in hand and the confidence of a Prom Queen, I felt a sense of empathy for her; and so I whispered to myself, " See ol' slag, I told you, you can't teach style."

 

Rene Martinez