Thank You, 6th Grade Summer School Art Teacher

teachers_dayWhen I was between sixth and seventh grade in school. I was forced to go to summer school “to improve my math skills”. As a kid, having to attend summer school was like being given the death sentence. I was stuck in school for half the day, when I should have been free to enjoy the summer like all my friends.

But, for the first time in my academic career I was allowed an elective course to fill up the morning. I don’t remember what the choices were, but I elected to take an art class. I’ve always loved art class in school. Maybe it’s because my Mom used to sit me down with paper and crayons to do some drawings, (which was actually a good way to keep me occupied as she went about her housework.) I don’t remember much about the class. The teacher was a nice woman and I really enjoyed the class.

 Copyrighted This image is of a drawing, painting, print, or other two-dimensional work of art, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, the person who commissioned the work, or their heirs. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of works of art for critical commentary on the work in question, the artistic genre or technique of the work of art or the school to which the artist belongs on the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law. Any other uses of this image, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, might be copyright infringement. See Wikipedia:Non-free content for more information.
Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 13″ (24.1 x 33 cm). © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph taken in 2004.

But one thing has stayed with me all my life: My art teacher showed me a book of paintings by Salvadore Dali. The thing that struck me about Dali’s work was that, if I could learn to draw and paint realistically, I could depict anything I could dream up. To me, this represents the only way to be truly free. The unbounded imagination is the only absolute freedom we can experience in life.

You would think maybe that flying an airplane is a way to experience freedom, but air flight is highly regulated. You can’t just fly anywhere, any time you like. You have to file your flight plan with the authorities. There are restricted air spaces. You have to have a license, etc. Because of all these restraints, you’re not truly free even if you fly a plane, or drive a car or boat.

I can’t think of any area in life where one can be as free as in the creative arts. And I’m grateful to that one teacher who made a difference in my life by showing me something at an early age that has stayed with me all my life.
What do you think about freedom, and what does it mean to you?

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