Monthly Archives: November 2019

Art or Tums?

My sculpture professor came to me several times trying to encourage me to sculpt a block of marble. In my senior year in college, earning a Fine Arts degree, I took two sculpture classes. I had scultped a fifty pound marble sculpture in Sculpture I, the previous quarter. We were within four weeks into the quarter of Sculpture II and I was failing miserably at a cedar wood carving. (Or maybe it was my welded sculpture… too much math involved in measuring the right amounts of acetylene and oxygen, while holding a blow torch.) Either way, time was running out for the assignment; three sculptures by the end of the ten week quarter. Or two sculptures, if you carved a large piece of marble that would count for two grades.

The first time Mr. Barnett approached me, I couldn’t believe he was even suggesting it. He was going to entrust me with a 300lb block of marble after the 10lb “Two Slugs Making Love” fiasco from the previous quarter? First of all, it was not intended to be slugs at all. Let alone slugs having sex! Second, it was not supposed to be ten pounds. We were supposed to hollow out the inside. I failed miserably at that. The whole class was making bronze sculptures. Do you know in order to do that, you have to make a cast from a very sticky wax material? Did I mention how sticky this stuff was? When you see all those crude bronze sculpture of weird figures, now you know why they are weird looking. When you see Brancusi’s “Bird in Space” you should be filled with awe and reverence for his skill.

Well, I made a sketch. (Please don’t ask me, I have no recollection of what it was really supposed to be. I’m actually still embarrassed by it.) But I do know it was not slugs… making love. We were supposed to have our designs approved and I missed the deadline to turn mine in, but Mr. Barnett told me, “You’re really good. I trust you.” (Famous last words.)

Our class met one night on the patio outside our studio for the big melting and pouring of the bronze. Our wax prototypes were cast in plaster with holes reaching down to the sculpture. The wax was melted out and the hot liquid bronze poured in. Thankfully, we got to take our molds home with us and work on polishing with Dremel tools. I had dreams of mine being smooth like “Bird in Space” (my favorite sculpture even to this day.) Hahaha. That didn’t happen. Critique Day was fast approaching and there really was no hope for mine. At the big reveal, Mr. Barnett, I could tell, was trying not to laugh. He said, “What is this? Two slugs making love?” (I returned it to the fire after receiving my grade of a C.)

“Bird in Space” by Brancusi

I couldn’t understand how he still had faith in me to not make a disaster of the marble he had saved from being delivered to the Tums factory. After a couple more times of trying to convince me, I reluctantly said yes. And I was given the block that another classmate had abandoned. I worked on it, using the power chisel for a few classes thinking of one thing and I was about to start a split to separate two sides, when a flash of a girl with long hair sitting holding her knees while laying her head down, flashed into my mind. Whoa! God showed me what lay inside the stone! Maybe that’s how it happened for Michaelangelo. It was amazing! I quickly got some modeling clay and fashioned the figure I saw in the vision and then began to round out the stone until the girl was free. It took six weeks. And every time I was out there on the patio, a campus security guard lady would drive by to see me working on it. I was asked a couple of times to turn off the power tool because classes were going on and I had to pull out my hand tools. By Critique Day it was complete, all except fingers on her hands, where I had run out of time. I wasn’t sure what my grade would be. But I shouldn’t have been. I received a double A.

Before the completion of the sculpture. 1992
The only picture I can find that is not in ‘the cloud’ of final product.
“Be Still and Know” by Victoria L. Thurman

Brace Yourself

It was a Saturday afternoon in October 1980, when I went for a bike ride with two of the neighborhood girls my age. I think they were trying to ‘lose me’ and I was trying to catch up, so I was pedaling as fast as I could, when my front bike tire hit a patch of dense sand in the road. The wheel turned sideways causing the bike to stop abruptly, but because of a little thing called inertia, I kept going. Flying over the handle bars and landing face first into the gravel on my street.

When I lifted my head up I saw a circle of multiple shoes surrounding me. I remembered seeing briefly before the crash, a group of Boy Scouts having a meeting in the front yard of the house where I landed. A couple boys helped me up and I saw my friends riding back to see what happened. Of course, I was a bloody, crying mess.

The troop leader instructed a couple boys to walk my bike and me ‘home’. My friend Dee’s house was the closest and she said her mom could take me home. All five of us walked to her house. Her mom took one horrified look at me and ran to get her car keys. I remember something like a small pebble in my mouth and I spit it out.

My face, my teeth, my hands, and knees hurt and stung with pain from the fall. We drove up the hill to my house and my oldest sister, Rebecca, was the first to see me. She rushed me to our parents’ bedroom where our mother was trying to take a much-needed nap. No rest for the weary. Sorry, Mom.

In the bathroom, I sat on the toilet as my mom applied first aid. I saw myself in the mirror. I had a deep scrape across my forehead, one above my right eyebrow, and one under my right eye. There was a gash in my upper lip and a scrape on my chin. But what hurt the worst was my left front tooth, which was broken.

At dinner that night I had to drink out of a straw and try to eat on one side of my mouth. It was Saturday night and I could not go to the dentist until Monday morning. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. And then it hurt some more.

Monday morning at the dentist, he asked if I had the piece of tooth that had broken off. He could have pieced it back together if I had, but what ten-year-old would know that? I remembered the ‘pebble’ I spit out in my friend’s yard. That must have been my tooth. C’est la vie, old friend.

The dentist bonded a piece to the corner of my broken tooth and told us when I was fifteen I would need to come back and get it replaced and I would also, since we were talking about my mouth, need to get braces. I think I got the bonding re-done, but never got braces due to lack of funds.

I never forgot about the need for braces; my jaw was always clicking and popping. When I was thirty-three I worked for an orthodontist. He looked at my mouth, agreeing I did need braces, but then he told me he would have to break my jaw in order for braces to work on me. I had no idea what that really meant, but he was the professional, so I never questioned him. And since my friend Kevin had a broken jaw in high school from a car accident and had to have his mouth wired shut, there was no way in hell I was breaking my jaw on purpose. I never thought about it again. I guess I would be stuck with an uneven mouth forever.

Last summer, my dentist asked me if I ever considered getting braces. “Do you ever think about closing the gap between your two front teeth?” YES!! ALL the time!! I did/do NOT like that gap. But I mentioned that I was told my jaw would have to be broken in order to get braces and that I would only be able to get the metal kind, not Invisalign. He looked at me and said that orthodontist didn’t know what he was talking about. I would not need to have my jaw broken. So, two months ago I went to a new (smarter) orthodontist for a consultation.

I was told that not only could I get braces without breaking my jaw, but I could get Invisalign! In December after decades of waiting, I will finally get my braces.

God Helped Me Cheat

“Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and society. It works by asking very basic questions about the nature of human thought, the nature of the universe, and the connections between them. The ideas in philosophy are often general and abstract. But this does not mean that philosophy is not about the real world. Ethics, for example, asks about how to be good in our day to day lives. Metaphysics asks about how the world works and what it is made of. Sometimes people talk about how they have a ‘personal philosophy’, which means the way a person thinks about the world.” (from Wikipedia)

My senior or junior year in college, I took Philosophy. During that time in my life I was Miss Christian and did not have an open mind to discussing or learning about Philosophy outside of my own view of the world. (I have grown a lot since then.) I didn’t understand philosophy and was very confused by it all. We were told there would be a ten-question quiz at the beginning of the next class. Oh no!!!

I studied. And studied. I had no idea what questions would be on the test, so I started reading the Bible and praying. Then it was time for class. I was sweating. I felt sick to my stomach. I was already doing badly in that class. This test score would just send me further into a D.

I sat in my seat in class. I looked down at the questions. (I would write examples of the questions here, but I could never, in a thousand years remember them.) As I read over them, I felt such defeat. I mean… I did not know the answer to even ONE and they were all multiple choice! I mean, at least try an educated guess, Victoria!

I wanted to double over in pain and shame. I felt so sick. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away, out the door and never go back. What was I going to do?!! I squirmed in my chair debating and staring at the page. Do something! Guess!

“A.” A voice inside me calmly said. It startled me immensely. What?!

“What if it’s wrong?” I asked back, inside my head.

“What if it’s right?” The voice told me.

So I circled A. Well, that was one down. Now what?

“C.” The voice told me the next one.

I circled it. Then the voice told me the rest of the answers.

In the next class, we received our papers back with the grade. I sat in my chair absolutely stunned. I had made a 100. Not one answer had been wrong. I had listened without doubt and I was led to victory. I have no idea what my Philosophy professor thought of this new development. Did he think I cheated off someone’s paper? I guess it didn’t matter. I guess the lesson there was to listen to your inner voice, or God, or your Spirit Guide. I’m not sure exactly who gave me the answers. I just call him God.

Whenever I am up against self-doubt, I think about what I was told back then and me saying “What if it’s wrong?” And the voice replying with… “What if it’s right?”

You never know about things if you don’t take a chance.