Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspiration Avenue: Fear

Today is Friday, the day of the week I have designated for my Inspiration Avenue challenge. Sweet Lisa, the Priti one, saw a sign that advertised "What are you afraid of?" and issued this FEAR challenge.



I began by laying down dressmaker tissue on a block of 1" thick wood, over which I painted gesso mixed with violet Golden Fluid Acrylic. At this point I wasn't sure where this was going, but I knew I wanted to create something close to my heart. Something artistic about fear, although it was not for or about myself, but for the young people in this world who are being bullied.


I started with these six colors because they were mostly dark, and therefore colors I associate with fear.


Now I'm not a person who can draw a pretty picture, relying more on mixed media and magazine images. And I'm also not very good with abstract art. But I wanted this to be something dark, going into the light. As I worked on the piece, I saw a tornado emerging. I certainly knew about tornadoes, having been in five before the age of 15.


I continued to work on the tornado image and remembered the one and only time I was bullied through teasing. I began attending a new school in the 6th grade, after attending a different one, one that was all ground level, for my first five grades. The school I was now going to was old and the upper classes (5th and 6th grades) were on the top floor.

Not too long into the first semester, we had a fire drill. We had to go out very tall cast iron lattice see-through stairs and I made the mistake of looking down. I froze. I could live through tornadoes, but not those stairs.

The teacher, who was supposed to protect me, was also no help. In fact, she made matters worse by trying to force and push me off the top stair landing and down the steps. After all, I was holding up the line which had to keep going. Clearly, this type of behavior had never happened before! Afterward, I was called all kinds of names, mostly by boys (at least to my face), including "scardy-cat" and "wimp." Thankfully, my grandparents (who raised me and were my rock) stepped in (something kids these days seem to resist) and spoke to both the teacher and the principal. After that, I was allowed to be the last person down the stairs, with the teacher at my side. I'm not sure what would have happened had there been a real fire.

Eventually, the kids forgot what a wimp I was, mainly because I went to a new school (what we called Junior High) the next year. At that time, I was reunited with my friends from K through 5th grades, had a good support system, and was once again on a ground level floor.


I tried to show the texture at this angle, but my camera doesn't take decent photos this close.

Unlike kids today, who have social networks via the internet, I was lucky. My friends were close at hand and I no longer felt the humiliation of being singled out. Nor did we try to single out and bully any students like the mean kids did. I was a big part of Junior High and High School because I loved school. I became active in many extra-curricular activities and took part in as many as I could fit into my schedule.

I also had very supportive grandparents, who would have gone to hell and back to make sure I was safe from harm. You have NO idea how innocent and sheltered I (and my friends) were. Young people nowadays don't feel like they have that option, especially since many bullying problems happen on buses, something we didn't have in our small town of a little more than 4000. Young people also don't believe they can talk to their teachers, and when they do, they are told to "buck up" just like I was told that day back in 6th grade.

Although my fear of being bullied soon passed, my fear of heights remains present to this day. I can't seem to climb on anything higher than a two-step step stool and my legs shake like crazy when I reach the second step. As for being called names, I believe it made me stronger, more easy going, and more empathetic.


I could have called this piece "Eye of the Storm," but decided to call it "The Bully Pulpit" instead. It is truly a different looking piece on my scanner.

I hope each person who reads this will become an advocate for young people, people who have been bullied, as well as those who bully (because these bullies are often either bullied or ignored at home). October is Bully Awareness Month and bullying could truly be one of our young friends worst fears. It is up to adults to see to it that youngsters are safe from internet violence, from school bus violence, from being picked on in class or in gym, and from vicious life-changing name calling. After all, this is the next generation we are talking about.

Thank you Lisa for this really thought provoking challenge. And if you have something you are fearful of or wish to share, please visit Inspiration Avenue where you can voice your fears and see others' fears.

23 thoughtful remarks:

Yvonne said...

Fabulous and thought provoking!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Beautiful post and painting! I was bullied in junior high school which was even more difficult combined with the trials of that age, so I understand and have no tolerance for bullies.

I completely missed this one as it has been such a busy week & the post didn't show up in my feeds for some reason. I hope to be back on track next week.

Dianne said...

a magnificent piece and marvelous post. you are so right to point out that bullies are often victims themselves, or trying to cover for their own insecurities. advocating for young people is truly important and can even save lives. Your interpretation of the theme is very original!

Dianne said...

well dear E, the page said "0 remarks" when I clicked to leave a comment, but I found two comments before mine! don't know what's up with blogger but so frustrating when it acts weird...and hoping you get email back soon!

La Dolce Vita said...

we never forget those moments when we were bullied... I wonder... do the bullies remember being bullies? do they know now what they did? very thoughtful and heartfelt post E... xo

see you there! said...

I like your entry for the challenge and could so relate to your fear of heights. I had a number of fears as a child and even a young adult. Somehow I learned to manage or outgrew most of them. I discovered I'm still claustrophobic tho when I had to have my last MRI. Eeeee!

Darla

Dosfishes at Sparkle Days Studios said...

Oh I love this post Elizabeth. You're piece is so evocative and your message is so true! Thank goodness for tough protective grandparents. My Mom was the same way. I can remeber how good it felt to know she was always there for me. xox Corrine

elle said...

Bless you, Elizabeth. A great post!

Tracey Fletcher King said...

This is a thoughtful post and your work matches it so perfectly. The thought and time you put into the challenge really shows through xx

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Beautiful piece with a lot of feeling behind it.

Katie said...

What a terrible experience,but I'm glad it had an okay outcome. It is a shame how bullying seems to have gone to another level these days. You have expressed your fear beautifully here. It's funny, I just posted about fears and being fearless yesterday...we all overcome so much and I enjoy reading on blogs all these shared experiences. Best wishes.

Kirsty.a said...

A beautiful piece of art. I was teased badly throughout school and now see my son getting the same treatment. Although schools are much more open about their anti-bullying policies, it is impossible to really legisalte against it. In response to your comment on my blog, 'charity cards' are commercial cards sold to fund raise for a particular charity. We have loads of them in the UK

Karen said...

Goodness, this is a very thought provoking piece, esp with that eye! x

WrightStuff said...

What a great and thoughtful post. I was bullied when I was about 5 or 6. One day I fought back and that was the end of that bullying. Funny how one hard shove and a mean look in your eye was all it took to end that constant abuse! (not that it was very serious at that age - just name calling and pushing around)

Your tornado piece is very atmospheric. Such power in all that dark colour.

Halle said...

Very well done! I can see the texture...the movement. How cool that you saw the tornado forming and that it totally fit your theme. I was bullied on the bus and at school. Mostly because I was chubby, wore glasses and was smart. Somehow that combination seemed to give lots of kids the feeling that I didn't matter. Honestly I think as painful as it was at times it made me a stronger person.

Carola Bartz said...

This is a great piece, Elizabeth! Living through tornadoes must be frightening!
I can understand your fear of heights, especially with those see-through stairs. I hate those, and I had a slight panic attack while climbing the "dome" of St. Paul's Cathedral in London where they had those stairs (I think it was there), and I suddenly found myself sweating and heart-racing. I was alone and it took a lot of strenght to move on, but I did.
I was bullied a lot as a child, and there was no help at that time at school. I'm happy that at my daughter's school there is a very strict no-bullying policy and the discipline for bullying is harsh (and rightly so). That doesn't mean it never happens, but the teachers and staff really work against it. Thankfully not all young people have only their network on the internet, there are many who have "real" friends and don't care about Facebook etc. I'm glad that my daughter is one of them. And she is self-confident in a very good way and never has been bullied. I'm forever grateful for that and hope it stays like that (she is an 8th grader).

New End Studio said...

What a great art piece and thank you for sharing your school experience. It's an ongoing effort to stop this behavior, people have to nip it in the bud.

priti.lisa said...

Oh Elizabeth!!! First, this was exactly what I had in mind for this challenge...reaching deep. And look at the beautiful piece you created! I like that you chose a less obvious title...perfect!
I know exactly what you mean about heights...and those sort of stairs. I don't like the open back stairs of any kind. And it is twice as hard to go down them than up. ♥♥♥

IM GIRL said...

Great post and important message to pass on at every opportunity. My granddaughter is only in kindergarten and she has already been bullied. What is this world coming too? Your artwork with your message is perfect!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, This is an important piece and message. I work in an elementary school. We have to deal with bullying all of the time. Usually the bullies are really hurting and want to make the victims hurt too. It is a vicious cycle. When a student tells me of a bully situation I always follow up on it.
gemma
PS Glad you kept anon.
:-)

kirstin mcculloch said...

Such a beautiful and thought provoking post. I love the way you just created with your instinct. I have such trouble doing that.

I know (after being bullied myself) that I am probably more empathetic, I try not to judge people and I know I am much stronger now. But if my girls were bullied - watch out for the wrath of mama! All that empathy... out the window!

Thanks for you lovely comments on my blog. I look forward to seeing your entry for this week. x

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

I love how deeply you went with this challenge- I have to admit that I was too afraid to be that open (ironic, huh ;)) anyway, great story and WONDERFUL entry- the tornado is a perfect representation of bullying and all that comes with it!

Tracey Potter said...

Love the colours and texture, golden paint is wonderful to use isn't it? I was sad to hear about your story about being bullied, how awesome your grandparents were!