not from this world I had been taking print classes at the Cornish College of the Arts and gotten pretty good (I thought) at print. But there was more - Cornish had a 5th year program - designed to train you to be an artist for real- and this prestigious program wasn't anything you could just sign up for. You were to go an plead your case to the entire art faculty in a closed door session - read trial. No one was allowed in - just you and the faculty. Completely confidant, I went in and spoke with the faculty. A week later I got a letter saying Dear Chris...
(it's CHRISTOPHER~! I growled to myself.)

Dear Chris we feel that you are not passionate about your work. We will re-review you work at the end of Summer. (And then say No.)

It didn't actually say "and then say no" - but I could see it there as plain as day. I was astonished. One of my colleagues was accepted after showing them smiley faces on light bulbs. That was the stellar work that got him in? Not to be needlessly competitive, but what was wrong with my work? It was careful, very decent print work depicting scenes from various races - the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio, and Le Mans itself. Print work in it;s very nature is lengthy & often tedious. Hours and hours and HOURS are spent working and working just to make a very few prints. Surely it was obvious how hard I had worked.

I set my jaw and determined to get to work. It was true that they weren't MY photographs, so I made some new prints using photographs I had taken myself - and these new prints were even better, but in truth didn't represent any real progress, and I knew it. I messed with this and that - and May slipped into June. I was spending lots of time in the print studio. Then in a twinkling of the eye it was July. I had nothing new and beginning to feel the awful truth closing in that I would not be taken seriously as an artist. In desperation I called my advisor Kathleen Rabel, a print professor & a superb print artist herself. I'm goin' down I said I got nothin'.

I have nothing exciting and new to show the faculty at re-review.

Lets have coffee she said - no lets have breakfast.

So the next day I trailed down to the Market, to Cafe Sport. It was swanky place where people wearing ties have breakfast. She walked in, and her husband Steven Hazel came in with her. I had never met him, I the only thing I knew about him was that he was also an artist. We sat in a booth- the two of them across from me.

A major turning point was just about to happen.
But I didn't realize it until months later.

They were opposites - she was tall, he was not. She was beautiful, he was rough. She had an omelette. He had a whiskey. He wore a backwards baseball hat and mirror sunglasses like Clint Eastwood.

I had the letter from the faculty in my hand - and I said "well I'm concern--

fuck em! - dun't mean dick !
he barked in an abrupt snarl.

(That's D-U-N-apostrophe-T) - - I hadn't even gotten the D in concerned out...

Everyone was now looking at us. OK --I said... and put my letter down. She didn't pay any attention to him - or anyone else. She said

"don't worry - just WORK. - and don't be careful. "

Fireworks to be sure. But I didn't have the feeling that I was taking anything useful away from that meeting. With no thought, and no new hope I went into the empty studios at school. Remember it is July. I took four big sheets of paper (Arches Cover) and taped them together.

I drew the first thing that came into my head. It was Blue Figures. I drew and drew - and the radio was blasting. The paper was close to my face, and I moved back and forth, drawing like mad. This is my favorite part of Art making - where you let it pour out of you. I was also drinking a huge thing of coffee. Eventually I had to go visit the boys room. The empty building echoed as I came back in, the door closing behind me. And to my shock I saw something I had never seen before. : THIS.

I hadn't seen it until this moment - it wasn't as though I had drawn it myself - it was as though I had FOUND IT there. It was like a magic trick - I was struck by it and stood there for a few moments. Excited, and again slightly mystified, I did a second and third piece. And then I decided that there needed to be a mama; a big piece that was like the mother of these three.

For my re-review I took only these three new pieces. Unlike the previous time I was very nervous, and my throat seemed to be drying up like mad. I was holding a can of Mountain Dew, but it didn't seem to do any good. The faculty gazed at me, and as I spoke I had no idea what I was saying - I could hear my mouth speaking. And it sounded awful. It sounded like blather - and I broke down and said:

ya know , I - -- - - ...I don't know what I am supposed to be saying - I don't know what you want - and ... well, look- there is this place that I've been to - ok? It is a race in France - and it is 24 hours long - and you try to stay awake for the whole thing - ....and at 4:30 in the morning when it isn't dark anymore, but it's not light yet, there is this spooky glow - a weird glow

- and it's not from this world. It's from some other world -
and I can't describe it with words - and that's the voice I'm trying to speak with...

And I stood there feeling hopeless.

The head of the Art Department said that's it you're in. I said what ? Then they all clapped, which I was not expecting. And then they all got up and shook my hand. I was of course relieved, and then thrilled, privately. But I was still sort of not quite sure what had just happened.





those first four big pieces


©2010 SIEGE