Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pretty Girls

The other day a lady stopped by from the area to purchase a wedding gift. We ended up spending some time together talking about our history, where we were from, etc. and she mentioned that she used to perform with "Up with People".  I knew all about the 70's dance and song group, they used to come to my high school in Palm Springs, California and perform. As a kid, I loved this group, their dancing and singing and the pretty girls. I thought about "Up with People" during my adult years and realized they must have been a right leaning propaganda machine in the guise of entertainment.  All I remember were the pretty girls.

Speaking of pretty girls, during those same years, I had a teacher (2nd or 3rd grade?) that used to read books to the class. She sat on a stool while she read and would remove one of her high heel spikey shoes and rub her ankle and back of her calf with her bare or stockinged foot. Sitting on the floor at foot and knee level, I didn't pay attention to the story she was reading, just that there was something going on down below with that foot. I was too young to know, but I remember getting that "feeling" that I recognize all to well now.

I write about this because last week, Peter Stempel from Stempel Form Architecural Firm brought over his summer interns for a studio tour and discussion. During their visit the foot fetish story formed in my mind for the first time. It has always been lurking in the back of my mind but more as an impression and feeling. I spoke about this then in the context of discussing my sculpture. I mentioned that in almost every animal that I make, especially the hare, I cross the hind legs in a way that reminds me of the way my teacher would rub her calf muscle with her other foot.

A few years ago, I was attending a parent teacher conference for one of my kids. The teacher was new, young and right out of college. She dressed provocatively with a short skirt and high heel boots and do you think I remember much of what she said? I do of course, (she was a bad teacher ie, on line shopping when she should have been teaching) but I wonder if there are little boys in her class that have tuned out her words in favor of how she dresses.

Up with People, pretty girls. My elementary school teacher. My kid's teacher. Living in such a conservative state, Lori and I worry about the right wing religious messages our kids are getting. It occurs to me that the worry is unfounded. Based on my experience, it doesn't sink in and may even serve as jewels to be mined for art.

There are other influences as well and as they wriggle their way into consciousness, I'll post.


Nick Wilkes said...

If I wanted to explain to someone why I like you, I could just send them this reflection instead. Nice work, professor. Reminds me of Miss O'Mara, my 3rd grade reading teacher. Mmmmmm.

Maya has been meeting some very fun people whilst cutting their hair lately. This morning, she gave me the card of a sculptor I thought you should know about, if you don't already. I am most impressed with his steaming hot human tea sculptures, but he also shares your fondness for rabbits.



Russell Wrankle said...

Thanks Nick. I've been hearing from folks that this latest blog post reminds them of some past teacher. I guess I wasn't the only kid in my class that noticed my teachers legs.

Mitchell Curwen said...

After reading this it went from 6 to 12 real fast. For me it was a typing teacher in 9th grade I would tend to hover above the keys and she would always place a hand on mine to remind me to keep them planted on the keyboard. I'm often a fast learner but not in that class.

Cooper said...

Now i understand why you like my shoes. Remind me never to come to class bare foot.