It's the journey, not the destination Mel Curtis's thoughts on a life in the world of photography

Dreams Come in Many forms

Swallows_Alhambra

I have always found that often when one door closes, another opens to offer other opportunities. In 1994 I was teaching part time at UW in the photo department. They also had a full time tenure track position open that I applied for. I really, really wanted the gig, even though I knew I wouldn’t get it. I knew they were looking for a woman, I knew they were looking for a real artist and I was tainted commercial artist. But it had been up to that point my life goal to teach somewhere, at a major university, and not some backwater community college. I know that sounds terrible, I wanted to part of something big, wanted the title Professor, and wanted to engage in all things academic. Right out of grad school I had been offered a couple of jobs, but I wasn’t ready then. I wanted to practice my craft in the big world and later bring that experience to the class room. The fist few years in Seattle I taught part time at Seattle University. It was a good job, but would have never turned into a full time job and besides it wasn’t the right fit for me. I jumped at the chance to teach at UW. As it turned out, the photo department wasn’t that good, still isn’t. But I thought I could make a difference, thought I could make that program as strong as the design program is. I worked really hard on the application, even had help from another professor, who at the time was on a few committees for new hires. She had me strip my resume of all commercial references. She had me alter my slide portfolio to look good by the nearest available light source, ie, the overhead fluorescent lights. It was a bit weird, actually. To think I needed to alter my persona for the sake of pandering to the committee viewing my application. That I had to be a slightly different version of myself. But I played the game.  One day after class I went to the office to check my mail and there was my application, all wadded up and stuffed in my tiny box. The rejection letter was signed, probably auto penned, by the guy whose desk was two feet from mine in the office we shared. No personal note, no thank  you for your good work, no sorry it didn’t work out. Nothing. In the end they hired their woman. After all that I just a little too white, too male and unfortunately at 40, too old. I still remember walking off campus that day. I turned and looked back, and said I quit. No more dreaming of being a professor. Just walk away and be the best commercial and fine artist I could be. And walked back to my studio and began making plans to go to Spain. And you knows how that story line goes. So even thought that dream died, better things came along. I often wonder how different my life would have been had I got that job, all the things I might have never done. But things turned out fine. So yes, you will survive. And like me, go on to do even bigger and better things. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that.

Take care of yourself sweetie, dreams come in many forms. And you live in a home full of them.

m

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