Before I became a student at ArtCenter College of Design, I had worked as an attorney for twenty years. This often felt strange. I spent much of my childhood drawing, painting and creating my own projects, and I always assume that as an adult I’d be able to continue creating art. As an attorney, this no longer seemed possible.
At age 50 I made a life-changing decision: as soon as my youngest child was old enough to drive, I would go back to school.
I started with night classes. Going back to school felt strange, but in a good way – I felt young again, enlivened by possibility. Throughout my first few weeks I was still adjusting and getting a feel for the place, but the sensation of stepping onto that ArtCenter campus for the first time is one that has never left me.
After I managed to settle into a routine, a funny thing happened. I noticed that I was (usually) the oldest person in all my classes. By at least twenty years! My peers, in many cases, were young enough to be my children.
You’d think there would be some problems when dealing with an age gap this substantial – at the very least, some fundamental difference in how we see the world. The truth, though, is more complex. Working alongside young people who were so impassioned about creating blessed me with a different point of view. I learned as much from them as they hopefully did from me. And they accepted me as just another student, which was great. Throughout the years, we’ve stayed in touch: sometimes we have dinner in the backyard, or we meet at the theater or a museum, or we work on art projects together.
These people are my ArtCenter family. I don’t see my relationships with my ArtCenter peers as "guidance" or some kind of mentor/mentee relationship. Together, we all learn from each other. It’s the classic "power in numbers" maxim: combine your resources, double up, and work together to make the best result possible. Each of us encourages the other to operate at the peak of our abilities. If one person burns out, we shoulder their work because we know they would do the same for us. It’s a special kind of energy – a familial energy.
Every year, I host a dinner for my rotating ArtCenter family at the Berlin apartment I share with my husband. The dinner coincides with the study abroad program. Berlin is more than just a city with a diverse and thriving arts scene: it’s a place for people with different backgrounds to get together, shed our daily concerns, and enjoy home-cooked food, good company, and a vibrant fun city.
My recent endowment gift to the school’s study abroad program was motivated by the hope that I could help foster the sense of community I found at ArtCenter and help others have the type of novel experiences I had at school. I value the opportunity to continue to help forge powerful and long-lasting bonds with my new and old ArtCenter friends and to create and sustain an ArtCenter family.
BFA 2014 Fine Art