My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Sun, 12 Jun, 2005

The Class of 1970

My high school reunion is over, and I have survived it. Despite my fears and dithering, I found that my old schoolmates not only remembered me fondly but even thought highly of me. Evidently, I was not the class goat but the class "art genius" in their opinion. My egotistic self was thrilled, though I wonder whether the distance of 35 years might have sweetened their memories. I'm glad for it no matter what.

I was amazed at how good my classmates of Dana Hall '70 looked.. Their fresh clear faces of 1970 had not deteriorated but mellowed, with touches of silver frosting their hair and a couple of laugh lines here and there. They were well-cared for, most of them with stable marriages and children now in their college years or just beyond them. My classmates all went into careers in human service, medicine, teaching, and the arts, at least the ones who came to Reunion. There wasn't a physicist among them, I'm sorry to say.
But then the ones who had the money and time and inclination to come to Reunion were the lucky ones, the successful ones, and the healthy ones. At least two of our number were prevented from coming by serious illness. Others had other commitments, like children graduating or sick parents to care for. And there were many whose addresses were now unknown, lost in the shifting mists of American women's life.

I had eleven pictures in the alumnae art show, which showed art, crafts, and writing from our year's group. After a lobster luncheon in the main cafeteria building (where I and the others reminisced about our most and least favorite institutional food) we attended the artists' reception in the little gallery. This was where I got to show off my work and I got more ego-feeding as the attendees from the various reunion classes complimented my art. Interestingly, they said that my work of the 2000's was clearly recognizable as mine even though they knew only my art from my high school days. Is my imagemaking really that consistent?

Summer has arrived in the Boston area, with tropical heat and humidity. This only stays around for a month or so, but this is the month. The gallery area was not air conditioned and the place was stifling even though there were fans set up to stir the air. Adding to this difficulty was a heavy exudation of pine pollen which drifted through the air from the groves of pine trees on campus, settling on surfaces and turning them yellow. Walking through the grass, I raised up clouds of pollen with every step and my black shoes turned yellow. But despite the pollen and the bad air we had an excellent turnout of gallery-goers. The show was the result of tireless efforts by one of our classmates, Sarah Rodman, and by Gene Scattergood, who has been a professor of art at Dana Hall for more than thirty years.

Then it was time for more feasting at an outdoor dinner held at one of the dormitories. I was a commuter to Dana and never had the privilege of living in a dormitory, even though I wanted to. The dormitory I visited was newly renovated and the rooms and bathrooms were much fresher and more spacious than I remember from my school days when I visited classmates in their dorms. There was a lot of noise as twenty to thirty ladies filled the yard and common-room with their conversations, sharing old gossip and new achievements, taking pictures with digital cameras and showing pictures of their children and nice houses in photo albums. Since I have neither children nor a nice house, I showed pictures of my art.

There were a few more serious moments as well, with reference to careers and failures, divorces and bouts with illness and depression, as well as the loss of family and friends. And there were also things which could not be talked about back in 1970, like the presence of gays among the faculty, or even more controversially, the matter of social class. One of my best friends among the class of 1970 was a girl from the "upper crust," from Greenwich, Connecticut. We drifted apart after graduation and she went to a college in the distant Midwest. Now, thirty-five years later, we have reunited, with all those years' perspective on our Dana years. Catching up on the decades, our talk turned to social class. I was well aware when I went to Dana that I was of a different class from most of the girls there. Our friendship was an unusual match. I did not have lots of money, or a summer house on the coast, nor did my father drive a fancy car. And yet I was able to move among the upper-class girls without experiencing snobbery. Throughout my whole Dana years, that was one problem I never encountered. In my family of artists, our belief and policy is that artists are able to move between classes, and are not tied to any single stratum. In my own experience, my art (and that of others) is appreciated (and bought!) by anyone from a biker or a maintenance man to a lofty professor of philosophy. Art, at least in the ideal, transcends class. And at least in my case, my art overcame my high school geek-ness, creating good memories instead of the bad ones that I had feared.

Posted at 3:15 am | link

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