Fellow students, I feel I must apologize for my behavior in the Kittredge Art Gallery on Nov. 14 during the Opening Reception. My behavior was inappropriate and I can assure you I will not repeat it. After spending this break reflecting on my actions, I can only hope that in explaining what lead me to pull the fire alarm that day, you will understand why I do not feel responsible for the loss of all those paintings and paper pieces that were a part of the installation. I also hope that after hearing all the facts you will join me in protesting the University’s vandalism punishments.
I haven’t had the easiest time here this semester. Back home in Colorado I’ve got a really tight-knit group of friends. I find I have so little in common with people from the Bay Area, it’s been difficult making close friends here. I went to the Opening Reception hoping to make closer friends with some of this school’s fine artists. I went looking for a place I could fit in. I was looking for myself, and I guess you could say I found him.
The various art pieces in the exhibit really spoke to me, unlike any art I had seen before. Each piece reflected some aspect of my own life. Casual connections with the pieces gave way to profound understandings of myself and of the life I have lived thus far. It all started with Dylan Harrington’s Legos Rule Everything. I remember my own childhood experiences, playing with Legos, the anger of my father when he stepped on a brick, and most importantly the 1×1 peg my older brother shoved in my nose. The one I had to get surgically removed after it made its way to my lungs.
In Ben Sample’s Garden of Eden I saw the clearcut forests that gave my family the money to build the new psychology building and indeed pay for my place here at the Puge. And in Louise Blake’s Azello I saw the woods I spent my early teens playing in, before Grandpapa had it bulldozed to make room for a strip mall.
Each piece probed the depths of my psyche ever further, unearthed pieces of my past I longed to forget—the jellyfish sting in Baja, California, the crab shack on the pier in Long Beach—but as I pushed further into the exhibit I found not just my past dug up, but my present as well.
Clay bowls like the ones I drunkenly stole from the art building over Thanksgiving, cotton plants like those my shirt was made from and Liam Horner’s Self Portrait, a wire mask so much like the dental headgear I was scheduled to receive that very afternoon. Your family can’t go on marrying its cousins forever, they say.
With that last piece I saw now that the art was peering into my very future. No longer just visions of the past but premonitions of the world to come, a power eluding man since time immemorial. And now, now I possessed that gift. All I needed was one last piece to show me what disaster could be coming, and what I could do to stop it.
There it was. Simple, erudite, beautiful. Ian Saad’s Grass, the rusted metal blades licking upward like so much flame in Grandmama’s pulp factory. A fire was coming. I knew it, I saw it when everyone else was blind. I had to act. And I did.
You see, now, why I had to pull the alarm, why I had to trigger the sprinklers. There was one, maybe two other people in the gallery, I couldn’t let them be put in harm’s way. I saved a life (maybe two) that day, even if the ‘fire department’ claims “there was no reason to suspect any possibility of conflagration.” What the hell does that even mean?
I hope that clears some things up, and that I can count on your support at the second-ever open hearing for the Student Honor Court.
Class of ‘16
The exhibit in Kittredge runs from Nov. 12 until Dec. 8, 2012