Last week, my students in English 1A, a transfer Reading and Composition class at the community college where I teach, read my blog. The assignment required them to first read my initial post “Why Horseshoe Crabs?,” which discusses my reasons for starting the blog, and then choose four other posts to read. Finally, they were to make a pretend Comment on each of the four for homework.
It was fun finding out who was attracted to what. Some searched for visuals: images, photos, or artwork. Some were drawn to the titles of the posts. A few commented on the video. One read my one and only posted poem. I loved the spontaneity and the realness of the students’ Comments and was touched by their words, their sincerity and their empathy. How fortunate I am to have such caring, thoughtful and intelligent students.
One thing though momentarily threw me. Upon entering my afternoon class, I noticed one of my images from my blog drawn onto the white board with a dry erase marker. This picture was uncannily similar to my own but ten times larger. Indeed, it seemed like a virtual blowup of my smaller image. At first I felt uncomfortable: The artwork was not signed and no one was taking responsibility. But then, I felt honored because someone had taken the time to carefully reproduce an image that meant a lot to me. Pretty soon, a student pointed to the copier, outing him. I laughed and left the image on the board as a gesture of reaching out—one artist to another.
Sharing work publicly requires guts and foolhardiness. Anyone can Comment on your blogposts and artwork. Anyone can read your thoughts and ideas. Which is exactly the point. Writers write to be read. Artists draw pictures in order to be seen. As a writer and a visual artist, I express myself for the wonderful feeling of freedom and the self-discovery that result. As important is the connection to others. I think now of Audre Lorde’s words:
. . . the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. . . . but most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live. . . . And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.
–excerpted from A Burst of Light