Friday, October 22, 2010

Books of Samuel

We arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago about a half hour before opening and took the opportunity to stretch out on the benches in the park and catch some rays.

I hear a meek voice declare that this is not a request for money; "if you could just help me with my assignment that is all I am asking". I peek up to see an impish, cockeyed teen, dressed in piped jeans, purcell's, and a pork pie diddy-bop hat sitting jauntily atop his head. His name is Samuel. Too cute.

I tell him I'll trade, give him what he wants if he will answer some questions and sit awhile. He agrees. We are to fill in a 2/2 post-it note with a tragedy. I write Mel Brook's definition, "comedy is you fall in an open manhole, tragedy is I have a splinter". He accepts the note and explains that this is good as his prof is looking for irony. Carrie writes that if Romeo were gay, he would have never killed Tybalt and tragedy would have been avoided. It provokes no answer. He is to gather 98 more notes in the park.

I ask him where he is from and he informs me a suburb to the north. I'm just a visitor and assume he means north-side and he tells me no, further north and west, a ghetto. Whoa!
And which school are you attending? "SAIC the college attached to the Art Institute".

So you're poor? "Yeah, and worse, a Mexican".
How did you get here? "I worked since I was 8 years old, mornings before school, and weekends, because I knew then I wanted to be an artist. My dad is rarely home and when he is it's the shit, but mom didn't stop me. I started auditing art classes at my local community college when I was 12. I took the train here to the high school and took classes though I wasn't an official student. I had no friends I could talk to. My grandma was my best friend. I put together a portfolio of my work and applied for a scholarship here and I won it."

What kind of work do you do? "Collages mostly. My grandma, sitting in front of fields of flowers".
Do you know where you are from? "A village about 100 miles south of Mexico City. Grandma is going to take me back".

Have you seen the "It Get's Better" project? "No never heard of it."
Well it is testimony from people who have been bullied in school addressing how they survived and how things got better for them.

"Things already got better for me. I got a $140,000 dollar scholarship".

He tips his hat and moves on.

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