art overload at 12 years old

Living with and through psychosis conceived an environment that rendered me in a state of perpetual sleuthing. My mind churned constantly in an attempt to put all of these cryptic pieces together. I was constantly scanning my childhood memories for clues looking for links in my past to my current world of government messaging and interference. 

I knew if I looked carefully enough, it was possible that I could find shreds of evidence proving my family’s secret partnership with the government to breed children intended for covert operations. It was in examining my family’s efforts to expose me to art, architecture, and technology at a young age that I believed that I had identified evidence of such a conspiracy.

During my pre-teen years, my mom decided to go back to college to achieve her master’s degree in art education. One of her most challenging classes was art history.

Before her most important and demanding exams, she employed me, as an uninterested and unwilling 12-year-old participant, in assisting her with studying the night before the test. Into the latest hours of the night, she showed no mercy or empathy for my lack of interest or energy and would keep me up into the late hours with militant devotion.

Selected from a celebrated list of great masters and their crowning masterpieces of work from all over the world, she created extensive and exhaustive sets of flashcards for her studies. My job was to hold the thick stacks of information-laden cardboard up one by one and wait for her to recall the detailed information on the back. 

The displayed information not only revealed the name of the artist and the title of the work but begged for recall of details to include the following points of information . . . . 

  1. The artist
  2. The title
  3. The year
  4. The country of origin
  5. The  state of political and societal mainstream concerns and acceptance of art at the time
  6. What was the adopted period or genre of art at the time
  7. Why was this work of art significant to art history?

The drills continued into the early morning hours. It was an absolutely miserable experience, grueling. The depth of information was dense. Along with establishing Picasso as the founder of abstraction, the examination and discussion went on to include . . . 

  1. his blue period
  2. his importance in Cubism
  3. what was cubism and why was it important?
  4. Guernica, abstraction and how could art be used as a statement against war?
  5. Why was Picasso’s abstract approach to art considered controversial?

This is just one recurrent, random, memory that I am able to recall relating to the study of art. I will never forget those grinding nights of prep work for a test I would never take. 

Today, I am actually thankful for those crash college-level courses. I remember many discussions about these famous works and their importance in art history so clearly. Thanks to my mom’s cold-hearted employment of child labor, I have an understanding of art theory and art history that is typically only achieved by those that commence the rigors of graduate-level study.

But now, in my darkest days of living with psychosis, this bittersweet memory provided the fuel to substantiate the conspiracy. Now, I could only reference the forced study buddy system as clear evidence. It was all the proof I needed to confirm my belief that my mom was part of a clandestine government initiative to create a private citizen that was covertly engineered and conditioned for the greater good. I was certain that the government purposefully put me through those late-night art cram sessions to develop me as an art savvy leader created to inspire and stimulate interest in STEAM. STEAM was a newly adopted acronym that represented Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

3 thoughts on “art overload at 12 years old

  1. More feedback. I really liked this post. But when it came to describing your mom’s behavior, I was like… wait, what??? I was left wanting more insights from you. You se to be framing this as a story about why you like art, but you do realize now that your mom making you drill her with flash cards late into the night was odd, right? You kinda hint at that, but… Were you aware at the time that something was weird about you mom’s behavior? Was she OCD? Are you suggesting her strange behavior influenced your intellectual development, or are you hinting that she may had had some mental illness, too, that you inherited?

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    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a very interesting observance. At the time, no, I did not realize my mom’s behavior might have been questionable in terms of being logical or stable. For my mom, that kind of behavior was pretty on point. She could be obsessive, neglectful of other’s needs, lacked empathy and often seemed disconnected or disjointed from others or society.

    As I explore the idea of migrating these anecdotal stories into more of a biographical book form, I think it may be critical to examine my mom’s interactions with me, like these, and how those experiences may have contributed to my psychotic breaks.

    Although she is not formally diagnosed, I can definitely see some of the symptoms of Narcissistic, Borderline, and Paranoid Behavior and Personality Disorders in my mom’s behavior. It is true that those suffering from these types of disorders may have been influenced by violent or loveless parent/child relationships. I identify with Borderline and that was most certainly the case with me and my mom.

    Also, to further emphasize your point, it is true that for some people with these disorders, upon exposure to extreme stress, may react with periodic psychotic breakdowns. hmmmmm…….

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