When I was in college I took a three-dimensional design class. It’s been quite a few years since then so I barely remember the teacher, much less his name, but what I do remember was thinking that he was odd. One afternoon he began to explain as he called it his”glove fetish”. He had the opportunity to design one of the school windows in way of showing what the school was about. He used his glove collection. By way of explanation he told us a story about finding a glove on the street. It was apparently a very elegant glove. He spoke of his fantasy about the owner of the glove, wondering what kind of woman she was, and proceeded to tell us of the imaginary woman he had created in his mind, all from a single glove. I was twenty at the time and came home to tell my family that my teacher was, in my young words, “a major league weirdo”. As time went on he only cemented my opinion. In grading my work he spoke of my “cosmic” design sense, or would fixate on one particular element and in his own mind decide it was something that I had never envisioned. Of course I never argued, I agreed, I wanted the grade. On one project in particular we had to create in clay. I’m allergic, so in rummaging around the storage in the art department I found a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, I used it to cut out as many leaves as I could in the time allotted. I was jokingly referring to it as “Gilligan’s Hut” (if you are too young…Google it). When it came time for grading this teacher was gushing with praise for my “organic” creation. I of course played along, telling him that I too loved the “organic” creation I came up with.
I guess now that I am older I understand just a little bit of that teacher’s way of thinking. Unlike him I’m not drawn by single objects, but I am drawn to singular figures. I look at these people and in my mind I imagine who they are, wonder why they are alone, and hope that they have someone in their life. My Dad always says that there is no disease as bad as loneliness, wise words that I agree with. A few months ago it was the man with the umbrella at a bus stop in Chicago who grabbed my attention in a fleeting moment at a red light, just weeks ago the portrait of a lonely woman, and the oil painting still in progress of the young woman whose back was turned to me at Starbucks. Last week there was a photo in the New York Times that really drew me in. It is of a woman with her back to the camera. I can’t really put my finger on why these individuals appeal to me. Sometimes I think it is a reflection of myself. I can still be quite shy, and have many times in my life felt alone or lonely. I wonder if maybe its the empathy I feel for singular lonely souls. The watercolor I did tonight is loosely based on the photo. There was a profile of a man to the left of this woman, he could have been with her, I can’t be sure, but he wasn’t important in the feeling I had about her. You will also see to the right just the silhouette of a man. The man on the right was engaged in conversation with someone else not relating to the woman, but I wanted to add his silhouette as a way of making her even more singular, but it was the woman I was interested in. In my imagination she is quietly listening. She is hesitant, she is older in how the world perceives her, but inside she is young and full of life. She is in my mind someone who lives alone, she is successful, she has friends, but none that know her as well as they think, and maybe, just maybe, she is holding an elegant pair of gloves in her hands.