The walnut double doors opened with a friendly squeal. The sweet smell of pencil shavings mixed with paint chemicals greeted me as I bounded into the art room, a magical place of creativity and creation. I breathed in a sigh of relief- I was safe.
The front board was a mosaic of paintings tacked to the board awaiting critique. I pulled up a stool in the back of the room behind the protective wall of three or so friends. And the critique began. Students stood up and down with their artworks creating a sort of synchronized dance. I remained silent in the back, speaking up only to support the views of my friends. Finally, the last piece was up for critique. The red and black spray painted face of a stenciled lady grimaced down at me, her shiny black eye glaring into my own.
I acted before I could think. My hand shot into the air so fast that I almost toppled off of my wobbly stool. My teacher, surprised by my uncharacteristic enthusiasm called on me with her eyebrows raised. Words flowed from my mouth uninhibited for once, rising and falling in a sort of song. Those eyes, those colors, the symbolism, the technique. Finally I closed my mouth, slightly out of breath. The room was silent. I widened my eyes in horror at what I had just done. What if they think I’m crazy? What if they think I’m stupid? What are they thinking about me? I sat there in silent terror unsure of what would happen.
Suddenly, three, four, six hands shot into the air. The first one- agreeing with me; the second- praising my observation. The class broke into a frenzy of conversation and I was astonished by what I had just caused.