Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

I was asked: Would you mind elaborating on what you mean in "I had discovered people who processed thought exactly as I did?" 

I thought I would be right back to answer this question within a few hours. Instead, I got a poison ivy rash that lasted for three weeks. Just getting over that, I was bitten by my friendly, passive pet cat. The cat bite on my ankle quickly infected overnight, and I spent July 3rd and 4th at the Emergency Room being treated for a serious cat bite infection. Now on my ninth day of antibiotics, I am back to answer the question.

When I was in high school, my teenage peers always thought I marched to the tune of a different drummer. I attended a very small high school. There were 50 of us who went from 1st grade all the way through 12th grade together. Many of us became close friends and knew each other well. I can probably count on one hand those of us who had an interest in art and design. No classes were offered in either subject in that small Texas school where the emphasis was on sports, teamwork and winning. The only elective that came even close to the arts was the high school marching band which evolved into an orchestra after football season. I lived for that time to make music. One teacher in all my 12 years of school stands out in my memory as encouraging my interest in art. That was Ms. Nellie Mae Williams, the redheaded 5th grade teacher, or was it 6th grade, who could draw. I remember a Christmas mural she had the class create along one wall on the chalk board. I remember thinking that Rodney Davis could draw better than anyone I had ever seen. I don't know whatever happened to that boy. Because art wasn't offered in the small school district, my mother enrolled me in oil painting classes when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Every summer I would draw and paint. After graduation I continued painting and began to take portrait classes from an independent art instructor. I continued to paint all through the years of a marriage, children, a divorce, and a second marriage.

Through it all, I felt that I saw the world with different eyes. It's difficult to explain but if you see the world through an artist's eyes, you see beauty where there is none for most of the people. You see color where others don't see it. You see the blues and the reds in the midnight black fur of a cat. You see oranges and greens and blues in the skin of a person. You recognize composition in nature or in buildings or in groups of people or in dirty laundry or in clothes hanging on a closet rod or a pile of shoes. In general, you march to the tune of a different drummer. And when you try to represent this in paint on a canvas, people think you've maybe gone a little off your rocker because they don't see the beauty in an old man or woman, the bright colors in the mundane, or the perfect compositions of daily life. You do. You are an artist.

If you also like math, geometry and physics alongside the above, then architecture is your calling. You always loved following the circulation and layout in house plans you found in magazines. In bookstores, you gravitated to the Architecture section. You loved the smell of lumber or the pattern of laid bricks. As a child you played for hours with erector sets or Lincoln logs which, by the way, were created by Frank Lloyd Wright's son. You want to build a better world. Architecture is your calling.

I thought differently all my life. When I entered architecture studio, I found other people who thought differently in the same way that I did, yet through the five year course of study, we each came up with our individual way of thinking outside of the box. The study of Architecture prepares one for much more than designing buildings. It prepares one for facing challenges and finding answers. It prepares one for living a life.