The economy was in the tank and the trickle effect had already moved into a full pour, a borderline flood. Jobs were washing away, taking benefits, retirement, and budgets along with it. Although I did see this reflected in my paycheck and low supply cabinet, I could hardly care because I sill had a job. I was one of the lucky ones…
I had a job, but my department wasn’t left untouched. For years my school had been a two teacher art program. For the two years I worked there I always had a fellow art teacher to bounce ideas off of, vent to, and visit during breaks. As my second year began to wind down it was becoming more and more apparent that the two teacher system might not exist once this school year ended.
It turned out 12 positions were being cut. The news was announced and the administrators explained they would be meeting with the teachers being let go in the next week. Although I felt secure in my position, after all I had one year of seniority over Morgan, my wonderful co-worker, I couldn’t help but notice the pit forming in my stomach. What if it was me? What if it was her? What would our program look like? Our classes were already overflowing, they couldn’t take one of us away. It wasn’t possible… But with 12 positions being removed from an already small high school… anything was possible.
One day the following week I made my daily trek to check my mailbox and I saw ominous looking letters sticking out of a handful of teacher boxes. I couldn’t help myself, I studied the names on the boxes, taking note of what department they were in, observing the weight the single piece of paper seemed to have.
One teacher per department and multiple teachers in the non-core departments had these sheets sitting in their mailbox. It was obvious to everyone who saw it what these sheets of paper meant. They were a simple invitation to meet with our principal, seemingly harmless, but between the lines of each letter laid the future of a career, and one was waiting for Morgan.
I saw her the morning of the single-sheet-of-paper meeting. We both knew, we both discussed the possibilities, her options of what to do next. Despite all the prep I know it was still hard to go into that meeting and hear the words “I’m sorry, but despite your hard work, your amazing teaching ability, and how much the students love you, we have to let you go”. No matter how many niceties are crammed into that sentence, at the end you are still left without a job. To make matters worse after this ominous sentence was uttered our principle immediately offered Morgan a box of tissues, expecting her to break down, which of course caused her to do just that.
I was heartbroken. I was selfish at first, wondering what I was supposed to do. How would I run an entire department by myself? There was so much to do between art shows, art club, classes, and needing a shoulder to lean on. Eventually my selfishness subsided as I began thinking of Morgan. She just got her first job, went through the interview, thought she was set, only to find she wasn’t. What now?
Morgan is one of those people that despite unfortunate circumstances is able to plan ahead, persevere, and look on the bright side. Before the infamous meetings began she had already been job searching. Interviews were lined up, her resume was updated, she was ready to move forward.
She ended up landing a job nearby, closer to home, at an elementary school. She was excited and optimistic despite the daunting task of starting over. I was happy for her, but as the end of the school year came it was bittersweet. She packed up her room, her personal items made their way home, her room was left empty and lonely.
I couldn’t help the selfishness creeping back in, what was I going to do next year? It was official, I was all alone. Even before the school year ended I felt it. I was already lonely…
- Visual journal
- Rubber cement
- Printed image
- Packaging tape
In order to create this visual journal page I had to find the perfect image, which I think I did. I knew I needed to make a page about this event, it was so important in both of our lives, it signified big change for both of us and a step backward for our department. While flipping through a magazine one day I found this image, a parody of the very famous painting, American Gothic, by Grant Wood. However in place of the original husband and wife is a brunette and a blond, a Whitney and a Morgan.
When I started working at my school my co-art teacher was a tall, beautiful blond. When she left she was replaced by another tall, beautiful blond. I like the yin yang we produce. The shorter, quirky brunette with the model potential blonds. This juxtaposition was unbelievably, perfectly reproduced in this image; and better yet the brunette and blond were set in a famous painting. It couldn’t have been more perfect for two heart broken art teachers.
For this image I knew I wanted to keep the two girls bold agains the background. To achieve this look I cut them out of the original painting and set them aside. I then took the background of the magazine image and did a tape transfer to create the semi transparent look. I then taped the tape directly onto the page (to read more about the process of doing a tape transfer go here). If the tape is no longer sticky enough to stick to the book page use Elmer’s glue or more tape to adhere it to your page. If rubber cement is applied to the tape an odd reaction occurs and causes the ink to smear off of the tape.
Once the background of the painting was set I used rubber cement to glue the girls back in their original position in the painting. I decided it didn’t look finished, it needed a golden, gilded frame around it to complete the look. I did an internet search until I found the perfect one, resized it to fit around the painting, completed another tape transfer, and taped it in.
To finish off the page, and add interest to the left side page, I created a space to write my words by making book page tape transfers. All I did was take strips of tape, stuck it to old, discolored book pages, and quickly ripped them back up. This technique causes the ink from the print and a little bit of the paper coloring to stick to the tape, creating a semi transparent look. I then taped them on the left side page, leaving a space in the center to write the words. I used pencil first, and planned to go back in with sharpie, but after writing the words I decided I liked having a more toned down look, and left it as is.
Use the book page or newspaper tape transfer in your next visual journal page. Use packaging tape and either old books or newspapers to create your semi-transparent word transfers!
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