Angela Faidley

Macungie, PA

My Masterpiece

When I stand in front of a class I look out and see bright eyes looking to for inspiration and guidance. The responsibility is overwhelming, empowering, frightening, and heady. The power to guide minds to see beyond reality and look deep into their soul is awe inspiring.

Art is the air that I breathe, the visions that dance before my eyes and the flashing images that catapult me from sleep longing to be captured on canvas. The need to share these life altering emotions demanded me to become a teacher of art.

At nine years old I sat in Mr. Gifford’s Earth Science class with my fingers itching to take on the new assignment. It’s not that I loved science; it was that this assignment would let me use my creativity.

I lay awake that night tossing and turning as my mind clung to the groundbreaking ideas I would put down on that blank sheet of paper. Our assignment was to use our fourth grade minds and draw a home we might inhabit someday …UNDER the OCEAN!

A giant size Hershey Candy bar was our motivation. One would be awarded to the most creative architect. The artist in me kicked in; there would be tubes and tunnels, air chambers, solar power from the surface and every amenity a nine year old could dream of. The ideas were flowing like a raging swollen river as I sketched my fingers to the bone.

I awoke the next day with a confidence I had never felt before. With help from my mother I rolled the sketch up under my arm and almost skipped to the bus stop. Now for a child that hated school, this was a sight to be seen!

The classroom was alive with excitement. Students fluttered about sharing the highlights of their drawings. I felt as if a drum roll were about to be heard somewhere off in the distance as I rolled the rubber band from my work. A hush fell over the crowd as mine was unfurled. I could hear my best friend Patty whisper, “Hers is the best”, while others sighed in defeat as they saw their chocolate dream dwindling.

Mr. Gifford circled the room as he absorbed the proudly displayed underwater habitats. The ticking of the clock on the pale green wall was the only sound that could be heard. With the grace of Bob Barker hosting Miss America, Mr. Gifford graciously told each of his students how their ideas may someday change the world, but with the deepest regret, there could only be one winner.

The tension was unbearable! With a clearing of his throat, Mr. Gifford’s baby blues locked on mine and stated, “Miss Darling, you have won 1st place.” I, Miss Darling, the underdog of the academic world had won! Mr. Gifford placed the giant candy bar as if bowing to royalty in my trembling hands. Although the chocolate confection was a prize to be longed for, the Blue Ribbon was the glory.

For the first time in my life I felt empowerment because of Art. Where I lacked in academics, popularity or physical education, in this new world, I thrived. For the nine remaining academic years, art took first priority. In my mind the future cover of Newsweek would proclaim the new Rembrandt had been reborn and there my face would be.

Life has a way of interceding in the best laid plans. A husband, four children, homes and jobs became the focal point of my existence. Artistic needs were fulfilled by painting baby rooms, making Play-Doh people and coloring in the Sesame Street activity book. But my mind held tight to the desire that someday this talent would be used for a greater purpose. But as time would have it, years would pass until the confidence and empowerment of Mr. Gifford’s fourth grade class would rear its head again.

As my children grew, as children always do, I found myself entrenched in their tiny school. School finances did not lend themselves to the employment of an art teacher so out came the Super Mom cape! The title “Volunteer Art Teacher” stuck to me like a nylon dress on a dry winter day. So for ten years projects were planned and children dipped their fingers in paint.

Enrollment and finances grew, an art teacher was to be hired and I knew just the person for the job! Twelve years later I sit behind this teacher’s desk. I inhale, art is all around me and I bask in the passion I share with these young souls.

Now that dream of sharing my love of art is ever expanding. To own a studio! It is a dream come true, now if there were only more hours in a day that I could not only teach but to create my own masterpiece.

Teaching is my life; will I ever paint that master piece? I learned a lesson from the touching movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. It is the story of the life of Glenn Holland a young composer. Holland stops touring with his band to take a job as music teacher in a local high school. He feels this will give him more time with his passion, composing music. Duncan traces Holland’s life over a forty year span. We watch Holland put aside his personal dreams to pay bills, raise a family and teach students.

At the climax the grey haired Mr. Holland enters the gym auditorium to be honored at his retirement. It was a full house. Children, some now adults came forward to tell him the difference he had made in their life. In the end Mr. Holland realizes that his “Opus” were the lives he had touched.

That is how I will look at my life in the end. If I never become that famous artist or create that Masterpiece that will change the world, I may have inspired a person to become more than he thought he could be, create more than he thought possible and to be empowered by his own self confidence. The people whose lives I touch now are my “Masterpiece.”