This is a true story.
During my final year of university, I took up a summer school unit in January to lighten my load during the rest of the year. The unit was called “Imagination, Creativity and Design” and it was a compulsory unit for all students going through the Bachelor of Education course in order to become a teacher.
I considered it a throwaway unit, it was not worth wasting my time on it during one of the longer semesters and this is ultimately the reason why I chose to take the unit during summer school.
For the final assessment of the unit, we had a simple task, to create a piece of art in whatever form we chose. This ranged from the obvious painting to the design and creation of a dress to models of structures and multi/cross media projects.
With over 100+ students all taking the unit during summer school, we all showed off our “imagination, creativity and design” in a kind of art exhibition in one of the newer buildings of the university.
The final assessment was given to us on the first day that we started the unit and we were given three weeks to create our art pieces for the exhibition.
I created my piece the night before.
I used a single sheet of A4 office paper and a HB pencil, oh, and some Blu-Tack on the back so I could stick it to the wall to present it at the exhibition.
The image I drew on the A4 paper were simple shapes representing people, a small circle with an oval underneath it to represent each person, each about a half a centimetre tall. I drew a single person on the centre of the page and around that person, I created a circle of blank white space using the rest of the people that filled the rest of the page up to the very corners. The crowd of people was dense except for that large circle that separated the single person in the centre.
It was a throwaway unit, I had drawn my art piece the night before and because I had to also present evidence that I had thought about it over the course of three weeks and had drawn concept designs and referenced other artists that had inspired me in the creation of my piece, I faked it. I drew conceptual designs after I had drawn my art piece and took photos of them with my phone as evidence. I threw them into a word document along with a short essay about a number of artists I supposedly took inspiration from that took only 10 minutes of a Google search to find.
On the day of the exhibition, I came into the building that was being used as the exhibition hall, expecting to be one of the first people there. Most of the 100+ students were already there before me, coming earlier than the time stated on the assignment sheet and they all looked so proud of what they had achieved over the last three weeks.
It was amazing what some of these people actually achieved in the course of three weeks and how much effort was put into the creation of these pieces. Some of them were truly stunning and the sheer talent behind them blew me away.
I started to feel out of place, small amongst everyone else who had put so much effort into their works. After one of the teachers of the unit handed me a feedback sheet, I quickly found a spot to stick my A4 sheet of paper, a strategic spot I chose between three of the largest and most outrageous pieces of art in the entire exhibition. I stuck the A4 paper about 6 feet from the ground, above the height of my head. The sheet of paper was white with light grey markings upon a white wall.
I hoped no one would notice it.
I placed the feedback sheet down on a chair underneath my piece, turned on my digital media player and put my headphones on. With this, I walked away from my piece and around the rest of the exhibition to view the other students’ works.
I spent two hours in the exhibition, walking around and looking at all the great things people had created. I ironically took the poses you see people take in movies when they are viewing art in galleries. I made the same faces the people made in those movies and I nodded my head in fake understanding of what these pieces represented. I even wrote down complements on some of the feedback sheets for the art pieces that other people had spent so much time and effort to create.
Eventually during these two hours of constant music that washed out the rest of the world, I noticed out of the corner of my eye as I walk by, a number of people were standing in the corner where I had placed my A4 sheet of paper. Out of curiosity, I moved closer to this group and realised it was the five university teachers for the unit and they appeared to be staring at the wall, at my piece.
Before I had a chance to retreat, two of them spotted me and waved me over. I reluctantly walked over to them, they started complementing me on my work, and asked me questions about it. One of the teachers, who seemed to be stuck in a trance, staring at my piece, seemed to be moved to tears.
He told me that he had almost passed right by my piece, he said that he had initially dismissed it as the only “non-effort” amongst the entire exhibition, but he stopped and took a closer look and he was transfixed. He had been standing there as the other university teachers gathered around him and started to discuss the piece as being the representation of a true piece of art in the entire exhibition.
They all thanked me for creating it.
At the end of the two and a half hour exhibition, I looked at the feedback sheet for my piece and it was filled completely on the front and back (which was blank) with people complementing my piece and what they felt when they saw it. Apparently, it was the most talked about piece in the entire exhibition and I only realised this once I had turned off the music after the university teachers had called me over to them.
They gave me a perfect score for the unit.
To this day, I am utterly confused by that entire experience. Where I thought I had demonstrated a completed lack of imagination, creativity and design, the very teachers of the unit thought it to be the best representation of the entire concept.
I still do not understand this world or the people who inhabit it. I will always be apart from it.
And through this entire story, I have no proof that this ever took place. I did not keep the art piece I created or the feedback sheet filled with the thoughts and feelings of everyone who viewed my art piece.
I threw them both away.
I did not even take a picture of the art piece to remember it in some capacity, I just, simply, threw it away.
Do you believe this story?