Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to School

And I thought I had guts…In a stunning display of self possession and assurance, 11 year-old Wyatt Gage donned his new school uniform and strode into the 2 year-old Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies at the Taubman Center in Detroit for his first day of middle school. Wyatt is most likely the only kid commuting from the suburbs to attend this charter school. He is definitely a minority. He left the only school he's ever known, Japhet, the 11 kids he's grown up with and many of the 80 kids who make up the entire student body there. I was leaving for Brimfield and New York the next day, and in a way I feel like I'm going back to school too...what? Mother is crowding in on this spotlight? That's pathetic. Please tell me she is not going to go into that bit about reinventing herself again…Wyatt wouldn't care less about Detroit's history of divisions as any indicator of what's possible in the future. His interest in color is on a wheel and every subject he learns at this new school is taught through a lens of design. It's all quite experimental and we aren't sure of the academic rigor, but I'm not convinced that's what's gonna make the man anyway. He's geeked about the first day's "design challenge" involving dropping an egg without breaking it. I'm worried about dropping the company nest egg and breaking the bank.

I've got less to spend at this show than I counted on and with all the bad economic forecasting we keep hearing, I am wondering what I will be able to buy now and what I will be able to sell. There's over a hundred 6th graders and Wyatt's one of maybe three white kids. What does Wyatt see? A whole world of new friends to make and I watch him as he scouts them out.

I've made some new friends in New York and the connection seems to have a good future. In this economy, I'm really hoping I can work with these people to make something good happen for all of us.

I saw Matthew Barney speak about his Cremaster series at the DFT the other night. If you've seen this work, it's quite obvious that it's all in the salesman's power to sell it, cause that is not an easy thing to sell. I go back down to Detroit to join Wyatt for lunch that first day. I spot him at the table and see he's kind of keeping to himself. I go right into worrying he's lonesome for his old friends at Japhet. To which he says, "No I'm just tired, I'm going to need to go to bed earlier." Who is this? After a few days, he tells me, "mom, I have two new friends for sure, Cameron and Travis." I board my flight and stop worrying. Suddenly flying to New York and driving to Brimfield to shop or driving back to New York in two more weeks to set up and do a show, making new business contacts in the city, finding and selling esoteric junk is no big deal despite the big deal I've been making about it. I truly believe in the power of what it is that I sell, and I put all my power into it. That I've managed to keep the crazy train on the rails, making a living for nearly 20 years ought to convince me that this works and yet I still have those crises of confidence and stress myself right out. Here's this skinny kid coming from the safest nurtured corner of the suburbs, taking on this big school in the middle of Detroit without any fuss, and I'm recycling 18 years of the same worry? Really? What we don't waste energy on while children are performing miracles every day. You need a reality check? Hang out with a kid. They have a way of cutting right through all that manufactured adult crap. Why? Because it gets in the way of having fun and that would be dumb, so they don't do that. I'm lucky I have this weird job I invented. It doesn't need reinventing, it just needs consistent leadership and seeing as its worked for me all this time, I guess I'm providing it. So I'm gonna shut up now, work and have some fun doing it.

No comments: