By Susan Bernard
For much of my professional life, I have been a writer. And, while I have taken many avocational classes in different disciplines, I had never thought of pursuing the visual arts because as an adult, my drawing skills–which I equated with artistic ability–were childlike, and I didn’t enjoy taking classes in which I didn’t excel.
However, just prior to my 60th birthday, I experienced an epiphany of sorts, and realized that my ego was strong enough to pursue interests in which I might be average. So, when I looked through the Continuing Education brochure, and Suzanne Temp’s collage class jumped out at me, I signed up. Suzanne was a great teacher, and I finally learned that an inability to draw didn’t preclude me from creating inventive collages.
Four years later, after pursuing a wide array of wonderful art and craft classes and workshops, at SMC and elsewhere, I signed up for Carmelo Fiannaca’s mosaic class. I not only was stunned by the possibilities of this art form, but found Carmelo to be a kindred spirit, a terrific teacher, and a very supportive advocate of my latent talent. So when he asked me to submit my mixed-media violin to the first ever Continuing Education Art Exhibit at the Bundy campus, I agreed.
I was pleased when the violin was accepted, but at the time I thought I was participating solely as a tribute to Carmelo because as a writer, and later an author, I had learned to pursue my craft for years at a time without a lot of external validation. Once my piece was in the exhibit, I truly was surprised how much pleasure it gave me.
As I said to my contact Alice Meyering, who is the program coordinator for Community and Contract Education and was instrumental in developing the exhibit and overseeing it, “As a newbie artist, I had no idea how motivational and inspirational my inclusion in the show would be. And, I am so grateful to you – and everyone else who was involved – for making this happen.”
Last week, when I arrived at the community education office to pick up my violin, which had been displayed for five months–I was delighted to meet Michelle King, the director of the department, and Jocelyn Winn, a staff member. Their enthusiasm and Alice’s about the response to my violin, and the success of the exhibit was so gratifying.
Before I left, I learned that the new exhibit officially will be unveiled on September 2, thefirst day of the fall semester. As I walked to my car, I hoped that the participating artists will have as wonderful an experience as I have had. And, I also hope that at least a few self-identified non-artists who view this exhibit will have a transformational experience, realize that every one of us can produce art, and sign up for a class, which just might change their lives.