digesting information in progress


A few days ago, I attended a two-day orientation for a residency that takes place in elementary schools. The residency program pretty much does everything I aspire to do for my home district, so I was super excited when I was first introduced. After the info session in… April, I think, I ended up applying for a shorter mentorship residency.

The first day of the orientation took place in the first studio space the program established in an old school. It was pretty cozy but I felt a bit out of place, like a kid who walked into the wrong classroom for much older students. I’m pretty much fresh out of school, and I haven’t been able to make any art for myself nor have a ‘practice’ just yet. I do have experience working with kids and I think I’m pretty good with everyone between the ages of 5-12, but that’s partially because they don’t see me as an adult.

The second day was at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is a familiar space. There were more people, including the artist who introduced me to the program and others I had met in April. It was a very long and informational session, and my brain felt extremely fried and packed full by the end. I admit, I wasn’t intentionally trying to be more adult-like or even just the whole acting-my-age thing. Or maybe I was just kind of inconsistent? I’m trying to reflect holistically and not resort to over-analyzing my past actions like I used to do. Anyway, I think certain parts of me might seem more adult-like than other parts, which is very normal, but I also have a baby-face, which makes a lot of my neutral habits appear childlike.

Then again, since I did study Art (at UofT especially), I am incredibly annoying and all aspects of my presentation are imbued with meaning. My graphic t-shirts imply that I am casual, approachable, sweaty, and cheap; my white sneakers and easy shorts point to my attempt at complete neutrality and flexibility; my beat-up notebook represents my omnipresent obessions and constantly-running brain; and so on and so forth. That whole thing is a joke, by the way. It was 27°C that day and the Skytrain was hot.

I mean, sure, I do have a lot of immature habits that make me seem more like a kid. During the break, I inhaled one of the small cinnamon rolls (the two-bite ones, like the brownies) and was chewing with a lot of concentration when someone decided to say hi. I could’ve eaten it like a normal, non-starving person! But no! And I’m afraid I might sound annoying when I contribute, since a lot of what my perspective on kids’ education comes from is the kid point of view. It’s not that I’m trying to think like a child or focusing too much on entertainment, I genuinely just think that having fun is one of the number 1 things in Life. That’s all I’m here for. All other basic needs aside, having fun is a priority.

When I was in elementary, I struggled a lot. I was either really good or really bad, and I had a lot of fears and feelings that I couldn’t put into words. No one considered getting me tested for ADHD or anything, and there was just not enough support for weird little girls. There wasn’t enough support for any weird little kids then, and to be honest, there isn’t enough support now. Public schools are crazy, man. I was just a kid who wanted to have fun, have friends, draw stuff, and get praised. I wanted to talk to adults, too, and I wanted to be listened to. All that is part of why I want to focus on elementary schools. To make up for when I was kid (you know, inner child healing), and to prevent the Stuff I experienced from occurring again.

I wrote “inner child” but it’s pretty much an outer child. I try to experience things with more of a childlike wonder (compared to teenage rejection and university-student criticism, or even adult derision) (those are generalizations, of course, but I find that often people’s first reactions to New things are like those descriptions), and greet people with compliments and fun observations. I talk a lot about video games and food, and I tend to describe things in the most simplest terms. I’m simultaneously more adult and more child at 23. Very cool.

At the end of the second day, we shared our closing thoughts in the circle. I appreciated everyone’s honest thoughts and the eloquency of the older artists, but when it came to my turn, I just said that my brain was too full and I needed to digest slowly, but thank you. Most people found that funny, and I really hope I wasn’t too disrespectful. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to do and I had a lot of fun. Also a lot of coffee. I’m not done with that digestion yet, and I don’t know if I’ll be ready by October, but it’s happening. Things are moving along.

Also, my brother says the classes haven’t been finalized yet. I don’t want to further stress everyone at his school out, so I’ll take it easy for another week before heading over to annoy the teachers there. I don’t think they’d actually be annoyed, but you never know. Anyway, see you later.

White Land / Treaty For?, Barbara Meneley, 2022. Detail. Photo taken by me at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *