boob or bust

The Boob or Bust.

Bust. (noun)
1) A woman’s chest.
2) A sculpture of a person’s head, shoulders, and chest.
3) An art student’s tale of woe.

Let this be the first of many statements I will make regarding my art education – there were many things being created that made anyone’s typical baby-boomer parents uncomfortable.

One of the finer moments of my life as a temporary sculpture major was to take a ceramics class (in the end I graduated with a degree in painting). We were taught hand building and wheel throwing, and as luck would have it, I was terrible at making anything on the wheel.

Due to my lack in wheel finesse, I became pretty good at creating odd structures with the hand building technique. (All this really means is that I flattened some clay out, chopped it up and slapped it together to make something delightful. Think of it like making a big, three-dimensional cookie.) I enjoyed the female form and had decided to make a bust from the middle of the torso to the neck, with the tops of the shoulders reaching out. I also decided to be visually poetic and create a sort of light vs. dark, soft vs. rigid, good vs. evil sort of bust. Half of it was lovely and smooth, with a more realistic feel. The other side was made of shards of glass-looking pieces of clay. At the end of the process, the smooth and “soft” side was glazed a matte white, the shattered glass-like side glazed in a high gloss black. The opening of the neck was left open (perhaps for planting something equally as poetic) and it sat with strength and dignity on a pedestal in our classroom.

My parents picked me up from the Hartford Art School after I had built my busty creation, and I felt it would be a fabulous time to give them a tour through the halls and show them what I and other students had been up to. Showing them around the various buildings, we eventually arrive at the ceramics studio. I didn’t have a chance in hell at “artfully” guiding them through the area.


Now, I want you to think of many things in your head while you read that line above. Imagine a level of volume so unnecessary and a tone so high and garbled in pitch, you’re looking at the windows to be sure they haven’t shattered. Ethel Murman, Francine from American Dad, any scream by Kathy Bates, but perhaps the most accurate would be if Fozzy Bear and Miss Piggy had a daughter, and that ladies and gents, is what my mother sounds like when she’s excited.

Remember the temporary sculpture major line in the beginning? During that very moment of elation I must have made a decision to change my major to painting.


The Boob, Part 2
(Two Inch Voices)

The meat and potatoes of this story begins at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the country (fun fact). I had the wonderful opportunity to work there on the weekends in college and invited my parents up to see one of the shows. I took them through a few cultural exhibits first. My father and I began to notice that my mother lacked what one might call “Museum Etiquette.”

When one visits a museum, the art usually speaks louder than you, which is why we all whisper or at the very least, speak softly. This rule, however, is like asking a child to eat their vegetables when all they want is ice cream.

As we slowly saunter through the galleries, my father keeps whisper-yelling at my mother: “Marilee!! Quiet down! We’re in a museum – there’s no need to be that loud!” She of course replies with her ever-faithful response at 120 decibels, “What?! Oh shut up and stop yelling at me.”

Our tour continues through the museum and arrives at one of the more contemporary galleries. Low and behold – there was a sculpted bust.

“Loooooook!!! Staaaaaceeeeey, it’s just like your BOOOOOOOB!!!”

The volume of her statement made me instantly whisper-scold her: “Two inch voices mom!!! Jesus, we’re not at a sex-toy shop!”

She gave me a look like she’d rather be at the local Love Boutique than an art museum. I too wished I was somewhere else.