Whew. I’m done with my painting thesis. I never thought this day would come, and I’m totally unprepared for how I feel now that it has.
True to form, I kept working until the last minute, spreading out over every flat surface in our apartment (including the bed). Once I finally had access to the gallery, the wheels got turning in my little scatter-brain, and I made the final work on-site, a 24 and a half foot long behemoth. With the ability to spread out as far as I wanted, I saw everything that had been pent up when I was working a few feet at a time come out, and it has given me all kinds of ideas and inspirations for future enormously ambitious things.
Completely out of character, though, I didn’t bring my camera to the opening. In fact the only photos I have of the paintings are camera-phone pics that Eric took at 2am after he finished helping me hang everything (have I mentioned? the guy is a saint). I think both my mother and Eric assumed the other would bring a camera, so no one did, but I will have to take installation views before this week is over.
I was incredibly anxious about the opening, for completely absurd reasons. I don’t have any fine arts classes this semester, so it’s not like I was afraid of my professors bashing me… and unlike every other student in thesis class, I didn’t have to defend my work in seminar the next day since umm, I don’t have a thesis class anymore. To that extent, I was also anxious that I would be really embarrassed in front of my family and friends, since no one had been around all semester to tell me how awful things were. Also for what’s it worth, I really don’t do well with being a center of attention, and I was getting all worked up about that (to the point where today I still feel like I’ve done something horribly wrong somehow, and everything I think about makes me feel awful and guilty).
Contrary to all that neurosis, the opening was a delight. It was so wonderful to see so many friends and family, and everyone was fantastically supportive and encouraging. My parents brought an overwhelming spread of delicious food which seemed to keep everyone happy throughout. I was tickled that my grandparents and aunt made the drive up with my folks, as it’s once again been too long since I’ve seen them. I was also thrilled that so many friends were able to come out – some of us grabbed a drink afterwards, and as I was looking around bleary-eyed with exhaustion, I felt warmed to the very cockles of my whiskey-soaked heart that I have such wonderful people in my life.
Now the withdrawal from all that excitement and anxiety weighs about a ton on my mind. All that is left of my MFA degree is submitting my thesis statement and slides to the library, and I keep mulling over what I might have done differently, what I should have said or made or thought about more. Compared to the excitement (and drama) of hanging a show, writing a paper and filing some paperwork is exceedingly anticlimactic, but it’s giving me an unwelcome opportunity to freak out with regret and worry and all this other nonsense.
So I’ll just be grateful for the positive… and get to work catching up on all the rest of my life that I’ve neglected or left by the wayside while concentrating on this exhibit.