Art Project Fears

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There was an atmosphere of general excitement in Mrs. Michaelson’s English class when she announced that, instead of writing about the chapter the students had to read for homework, they would be drawing pictures to tell the story of the chapter. While most students were pleased to break their usual routine of tedious worksheets and paragraph analyses to participate in a tedious art project, one student suffered in silence.

“I heard the word ‘drawing’ and all of the light in my eyes disappeared,” reported senior Maria Hanover. “There’s nothing worse than graded art projects in non-art classes.”

To clarify, Hanover is not trying to bash Mrs. Michaelson’s assignment. “I get it, she’s trying to stimulate us creatively, and I totally respect that and think that’s great and all, but I just…” Hanover trails off, embarrassed. “I have the art skills of a left-handed fourth grader.”

Hanover was quiet for a moment, then, regaining composure, continued, “There, I said it. I couldn’t draw my way out of a wet paper bag. I’m eighteen years old. I pay taxes, drive a car, have the right to vote… and I still draw stick figures. There’s something wrong there. It’s like I never hit artwork puberty. And it’s not fair.”

Mrs. Michaelson, when asked about how the assignment can possibly be fair when all students have different levels of art ability, responded, “I’ll grade the assignment based on effort, not skill. If I see that you tried, that’s all that matters.”

High school students unknowingly creating things that will later make Maria Hanover feel insecure

High school students unknowingly creating things that will later make Maria Hanover feel insecure about her own art skills

Hanover, hearing Michaelson’s response, chirped, “That’s the thing! My drawings are so bad that they look like I didn’t put any effort into them. They look like I literally drew them in the senior lounge ten minutes before class. But, in reality, I spent an hour at my kitchen table with a stupid dull crayon, surrounded by crumpled paper, crying a little, wondering why I’ve been cursed with the ability to attempt to draw a hand and have it come out looking like an eggplant.”

The worst part, though, is not the assignment itself. The worst part, Hanover conceded, is the day the students have to share their drawings. “The teachers always make you do that: put your piece under that stupid overhead projector at their desk. And, naturally, the artistically talented kids will share theirs first, just to ensure that I feel as bad as possible when I eventually end up sharing. And everyone will say, ‘Wow! That’s so good! How long did it take you?’ And the junior Picasso up at the projector will laugh and say, ‘Oh, only about ten minutes!’ And I’ll think, ‘What? Ten minutes to break into the Louvre and steal that masterpiece?’”

This cycle, Hanover said, repeats and repeats, until finally it’s her turn to share. “I always hope the teacher will forget about me. They never do, though. So I come up there with this hideous thing and put it under the projector and everyone is laughing, and I just kind of have to laugh along, pretending I did it that bad on purpose to be funny, but it’s killing me inside.”

Hanover, when asked if this is the thing she is most excited about leaving behind when she graduates this June, replied enthusiastically, “Yes! Sure, I’ll be making new friends and going to college and moving away, but all of that pales in comparison to the fact that I will never, ever have to share a drawing with a classroom full of judgemental teenagers ever again in my mortal life. There’s nothing that I want more.”