Tag Archives: gratitude

Thank a Teacher : The Crucified Luke Skywalker Story

6 Jul


bracelet

I believe in acknowledging & appreciating the journey it takes to get to this day in my life. Today I saw a Facebook post about my old Metals professor Rachelle Thiewes, who is retiring from my undergrad alma mater, the University of Texas at El Paso. I am so grateful for her effect on my creative life.

My first personal-statement-art-work I made was in a metalsmithing class circa 1989-90ish. The assignment was to use anodized titanium in a piece. I wanted to do something really radical; I was going to make a “gay” piece. I was just accepting myself as gay and influenced by the AIDS crisis which had hit with friends and family. My titanium piece was a cross made out of pink triangles (very Silence=Death) that I crucified a Luke Skywalker figure upon (my symbol for childhood, identity, masculinity, etc).

In all honesty, the piece came out a bit shoddy. It was hard to get titanium to turn pink evenly and my Luke Skywalker was my readymade, and just didn’t fit quite well. Critique time came & I was nervous. This was my big art-school coming out moment, although I was already “out”, I hadn’t really incorporated it so blatantly in my art work & 99% of my classes were straights. Ok, it was only about 12 other students but I felt very vulnerable (obviously because I still remember this 25 years later). What happened was I didn’t say much about the piece… I wussed out. What also happened was that my professor, Rachelle Thiewes, made some sort of acknowledgement that she “got it”. I don’t remember what, but I remember feeling relieved, happy & empowered that I was able to communicate my message.

I had some truly great instructors at UTEP who went above & beyond the requirements of an average education (like my painting prof. Jim Quinnan- shout out), but Rachelle and I became friends & keep in contact. A few years back she even invited me to speak to her class a few times. I was able to share how art is still part of my life even if it’s not in a gallery. To give a talk at my alma mater has been a great symbol of achievement & gratitude in my life.

Rachelle’s influence on me in art school was impactful. She was the first person I knew to actually wear cool designers like Besty Johnson (which was big time in 1990 El Paso), and to be an “adult” with pink hair made her all the more cool. Her art is not only beautiful, it’s absolutely brilliant… & wearable. Today I thank my teacher Rachelle Thiewes & wish her well in retirement.

Take a look at a recent article on her:

http://theartave.com/?p=3943&fb_action_ids=10203135489087192&fb_action_types=og.likes

Rachelle

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