Stitched Together

I’m finding myself thinking back to the Academy of Arts a lot these days. My time there, however brief, taught me lessons that I’m only now taking to heart.
Model in black and white face paint


The first and most obvious lesson was that being the most artistic of your senior class in a dusty ag town doesn’t amount to much at all when you’ve got students from all over the world sharing space with you. It’s the same shock to the system every student feels when they head off to college, that little fish big pond effect. You either rebound from it and rise to the occasion or you find reasons to drop out and get a BA in English that never gets used instead.

Obviously, I took the easy way out, but not before ingraining memories that have haunted me ever since.

There was one student in particular. He sort of came home with me even though he doesn’t realize it. I never met him. I don’t know his name. I just have an image of him in my head, this charismatic white kid fresh off an Abercrombie poster. He had this tussled mop of sandy hair atop his head. The kind of guy that you either love because you want to be just like him or hate … because you want to be just like him.

I hated him.

I hated that every time I went into a lab to work he was already there. I hated that when I left he was still there. I hated his stupid amazing projects. I hated that he could clearly be friends with whomever he wanted yet chose his art instead. Most of all I hated myself for not embracing the example he’d set forth.

Fifteen years later he’s still there, engulfed in shadow, his face lit by an eerie monitor glowing in front of him as all the other monitors blink out. He doesn’t look at me, never says a word, but every time I start to pack my bags and reach for the ‘export’ button so that I can get out a batch of work quickly, his monitor flickers, reminding me that he’s still there, still working.

The same image is on his screen that was there when I started. I look at my batch of decent work then back to his one frame. It’s amazing, and in that moment I know that it doesn’t matter how many decent images I flood my instructor with, his one frame will rise above it all and float upon the surface of my mediocrity.

I set my bag down, tap ‘ESC’, and take a seat across from him. “I hate you,” I say as I pull up my one image.

He doesn’t reply, doesn’t even look at me, just keeps working, but I swear that eerie monitor glow now wraps around a smile.

Model and MUA: Crystal Marie
Photography and Retouching: David Noceti