“Ms. Jennifer Harrington Jones, I assume you will tell me who Artemisia Gentileschi is in this paper.”
Jennifer broke into a smile. Richard Freeman PhD. was a know-it-all who habitually walked as if with stiletto heels over any high achieving student. Jennifer had already introduced him to Judy Chicago and The Dinner Party – all those vaginas on plates! Properzia de’ Rossi, was an Italian Renaissance sculptor whose mentors were the Medicis. And Faith Ringgold’s Over 100 Pounds Weight Loss – Performance Story Quilt was an “up yours,” an African-American woman’s take on female body image in the U.S. Perfectly researched and sourced, her papers had all gotten A’s.
“Yes, Professor Freeman. It’s all there in black and white, the whorehouses, creative embarrassments, and trials of a young artist working in the studios of Titan.” Her smile almost made her teeth hurt.
The salt and pepper haired man at the front of the auditorium peered over his glasses at the seventy odd students, into the mass of earnest, egotistic, and often callous questers of Art. Hoping to find Jennifer and pierce her bubble of satisfaction with his gaze. But Jennifer had switched her seat after her comment to Freeman, to sit with Jillian, her roommate, and trade tidbits about Peter.
The two art students walked out of the lecture hall together; Jennifer to the clay studio, Jillian to Life Drawing. In her workshop cubicle she was building vessels out of thrown pieces of clay. Pinching closed the end of large cylinders, cutting a two-inch diameter hole in the side, and attaching thrown, spouted throats. Clay loops were attached on each end so they could hang from a rope handle. It was based on a side ways bottle Jennifer had seen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Greek artifact collection, in the basement where her uncle had once worked. When she was interested in some epoch or artist, Uncle Jack inevitably knew where in the museum she had to visit.
At the end of her studio session, she needed to wedge up two hundred pounds of clay for the rest of the week’s experiments and no massages from Peter were in sight. That night, when she went home, it would be at least three more hours painting the second banner.
Expending more energy for what? After all their planning and costs over five months, who would attend? Would the demonstration go off well? Would the media coverage be enough in Western New York? Or would it go national? What will my father say if I’m caught and arrested? I won’t take his help. After all, I put myself through art school by working three jobs in Pittsburgh, in one year, to sock away money to finish my education the way I wanted to.
But back to the point, I need to get in touch with Helen in Olympia, Washington, from our sister organization Crab Shell Alliance. She’ll monitor all news about our Clam Shell protest for our joint records and communicate during the organization process. About now I should be giving her daily updates on supplies, props, and legal help.
Jennifer trudged home, the still wet clay slop on her jeans stinging cold in the late October north wind. Her concerns about the demonstration were dispelled by practicalities. Once changed into dry old clothes, she took a portable heater down to the basement. Part of her handiwork lay draped over a clothesline dried and ready. The second banner was painted half way. As Jennifer plugged in and positioned the heater she decided to make some coffee. With a ten a.m. engineering class tomorrow and one p.m. critique, she could sleep in if she got too involved.
Anne came down the steps about two hours later to say she was going to bed, “Would you like another cup of coffeeJennifer considered and decided not to add a third cup to her system. She never had trouble sleeping, but now was not the time to check it out. She would finish this sign tonight and then it would be good and ready for the coming weekend. Writing a note to call Helen to report the latest updates must be done before bed. But she wanted to be sharp for her critique tomorrow. It was one of her favorite classes. She always left with some insight or technique to achieve more of what she intended.
Jennifer awoke with anticipation of a Materials Science class on Noble Gas properties and a studio critique of her eight, hanging urns with copper, feldspathic, matte glaze. In the display cubicles used for student’s critiques, Jennifer had arranged her pieces and worked on her statement about its link to her other work that year. Wayne Higby was her design professor this semester and since his familiarity with ceramics was only low-fire raku, she doubted he would appreciate the quality of her glazes. It was his artist’s eye she wanted, insight into the design process.
Jillian was cutting onions when Jennifer arrived home that evening, “Did Wayne cut you to the bone, like he usually does with undergrads?”
“Yeah, but I know what his “MO” is and it doesn’t bother me like some of the other students. I wanted him because he “takes no prisoners.” I want a super critical eye. I’m not going to school here so I can be complimented. I want info, answers, and ideas.”
Jillian rolled her eyes, “ Well that’s you, not me.”
Jennifer shrugged her shoulders and walked to the telephone in the living room to call her friend in Olympia before it got too late. It was already eight o’clock on the West Coast.
“Hey there Helen. How’s the protest going?”
“Well, I wish we had your artistry. Our signs might not be as pretty as yours.”
“If they’re clear and big, it doesn’t matter if they’re professional. How large are you making them?”
“Fifty feet long and four feet wide.”
“Sound like they’ll work. Letters? How big?”
About eighteen inches tall.”
“You’ll be fine. Besides, I plan on relocating out there after I graduate. Set up a studio in Olympia.”
“We all miss you. And some will be happy to have a great worker back here to renew our energy.”
“Thanks Helen. I miss the West too.”
“Our legal help is a pre-law student from Columbia, whose father works for the ACLU in Washington D.C. She has a connection in Seattle who’s interested in your work. He’s a consultant for lobbyists, Steve Tasawitz. He’s in the phone book. Often comes down to Olympia too, for State business. That’s T-a-s-a-w-i-t-z.”
“Thanks! But he works for lobbyists? How do you know he’s on our side?”
“Relax, that’s his day job. He’s a very committed political environmentalist and donates his skills to a few non-profits, of which you would approve. I’ll mail my report and I look forward to receiving yours for the scrapbook. “