Tribute to William

Facial outline with heart and cross

Tribute to William

(aka, the artwork that got me thrown out of art class)

Mixed media of cardboard and leather, with oil on canvas, 30” x 22”

This painting and I were thrown out of art class. The assignment was the student’s choice and we were encouraged to work out of our comfort area. Since my husband was ill, I wanted to paint a tribute to him with painting of the human face being well outside of my experience. I worked for 12 hours of class time on this painting, showing my instructor our design and work every step of the way. The leather patch over the heart in the bottom right corner was a part of the original design. I had approval of it before I affixed it permanently, as there would be no turning back without ruining the canvas. I received approval and that left just one piece more to plan—the symbol in the upper right hand corner upon which my husband gazed.

The last item to finish my painting was to paint in the cross, as a key symbol of my husband’s faith. My instructor took one look at the cross and told me to get the painting out of her classroom and that I should go with it. She told me on the way out to get rid of the leather, the wedding ring, and the heart as well—all of which had been fine to her the week before.

I ended up creating an entirely new, less objectionable painting that night to turn in the next class. I couldn’t replace the 13 hours of work I had put in on this painting. Nor, could I forget the sting of discrimination in the classroom. Nonetheless, this remains my Tribute to William.

©Penelope Culbreth-Graft,  June 2013

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