I spent yesterday evening getting acquainted with the campuses of some of the larger universities in the Dallas area. I can tell you that between 5pm and 9pm, the art departments of SMU, UT Dallas, Collin College (Plano Campus), and UNT are all a-bustle. The smells of linseed oil, burning steel, wet clay were strong; the clothes were well-worn; the hair was unkempt and long; all of this was just as I remember it from 10 and 15 years ago. Art students are timeless creatures.
The occasion for this campus-roaming was the dissemination of my Bump posters, a project that is as necessary as it is scary. Walking first onto the lovely and new UT Dallas grounds in Richardson, I felt like a middle-aged intruder, slinking around happy young people with a FedEx Office bag crinkling loudly in my duffel. I knew it was only a matter of minutes before someone figured out that my posters and I didn’t belong there. I rehearsed my nonchalant responses to the impending, “HEY! What do you think you’re doing here?!”
But, despite their problems, colleges really are pretty great. They’re all about the sharing of ideas. They are public spaces replete with public posting areas, and I soon realized that not only were my rolls of tape unnecessary, but each of the several dozen notice boards across five campuses were well stocked with push-pins, just waiting for someone to post his promotional printed matter. No one raised an eyebrow to my interloping. So, my new motto holds:
Life’s too short to let fear get in the way of what you want to do.
As I venture into the public and try different pseudo-guerrilla tactics to connect with people, I keep bumping against my reluctance to step out of line in any way. I’ve never been much of a rule breaker, and even though I fancy myself avant-garde in some ways, I’m not even much of a norm breaker. But, as I clear away the old habit of over-concerning myself with what others might think of what I’m doing and instead meditate on what it is that I want to do with my life’s work, I find that rules and norms stand in the way of most of the things I want to try. And as I head out to do those things, I nod my head to the rules, the norms, the habits, the judgments of others, and keep walking. So far, they haven’t tried to stop me.
I’m proud of my posters. Time and again I would pin one up, take 10 of 20 paces back, look on the wall, and see that mine was the most legible and possibly the most attractive of the bunch. I’m going to be planning more events like Bump if for no other reason than to have an excuse to make rock posters and hoof them around the metroplex, trying to make a connection here and there to people who may be into the idea of a grassroots art career.