BFA stands for Big effin’ Artist, or, how my high school teachers had it right all along

So it’s been a while since my last post, again.

Sometimes things just get too busy with all the concerts in churches and long walks after dark and fancy cocktails with dramatic names like, “From Here To Eternity” and brothers graduating from college.

That’s right, after five crazy years of back-breaking, ass-busting, non-stop coffee-consuming, ill-sleep-when-im-dead, late-night studio hours and a host of other antics that I’m sure my parents would hate to know about, my bro just received his BFA in Film/Video and Fiber Arts.

He is very talented and I am very proud of him.

I bought a helmet for his graduation gift, with a warning: “Welcome to the real world.  You might need this.”  Although, I saw him for lunch yesterday and, a week after his review/four days after commencement, he seems very well adjusted and as ambitious as ever.  And happy.  (This makes me unbelievably glad.)

So maybe the helmet wasn’t such a good metaphor for his new post-college life.

I sure as hell could have used one.  I was so bent out of shape and worried about my future that I couldn’t take a break or let myself relax.  I ended up taking a crazy job and going through a crazy break-up and everyone will hopefully get the opportunity to read about it once I finish my book.

My brother is an avid cyclist, although cyclist is the wrong word.  Cyclist probably conjures up the image of a skinny person wearing spandex and special fingerless gloves, and he is really not that kind of person.  He’s not a biker either with the leather jacket and the handlebar mustache– although he does have twirly upper lip facial hair that is very mustachio.

He is hip without being a jerk and would probably be annoyed that I’ve been writing so much about him in this blog so I’m gonna quit while I’m ahead and continue with my story–

I was walking to the bike shop, to buy a helmet, for my brother’s graduation.  It was a fairly long walk and the sun was hot but the shade was chilly and I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular until I remembered the word, RICO.


RICO is actually not a word, as I remember it, but an acronym, which was constantly pounded into my head while I was a high school student at the Boston Arts Academy.

Refine.  Invent.  Connect.  Own.

RICO stood for the value system that was drilled into all the students– “artists and scholars”– as we were often referred.  It was a way for the teachers across all disciplines, because BAA had five different majors, to inform all the students about the elements of being an artist.  To always refine your skills, invent new work, connect with your audience/other artists/community, and take ownership of your voice.

We heard it so much in both our arts and academic classes that when I remembered the word, after not thinking about for nearly 10 years I almost laughed.  How could I have ever forgotten about RICO?

I laughed, and remembered how everyone rolled their eyes when a Math teacher tried, in vain, to relate RICO to Geometry proofs, but I also had to acknowledge–

They were right.

It’s very easy, when you’re working on what feels like the 230948209384th revision of the same chapter you have been attempting to get right for two or three weeks, to remember the bigger picture.  When I step away from the desk and connect with other writers, or do something completely non-writing related– baking cookies, driving the car– I’ll often have these ah-ha! moments that remind me–

This is what this art thing is all about.

Wandering through JP Center, I thought of RICO and gave context to moments that have been nagging me, things that I have attempted to write about in this blog–

How the little girl in my creative writing class who, in all honesty, is a very talented writer but especially arrogant, refuses to believe she needs to improve.

The way I just want to get all my silly self-promotion aside so I can just frickin write already, but also feel rejeuvenated after attending the conference.

And how I remind myself, all the time, to keep going, to not be afraid.  That I can’t worry about my audience, what they will think, how they will respond.  I need to write the stories that are important to me, in a way that I can feel proud of.

That’s what being a BFA is all about!

Note: I did not earn a BFA degree but a BA.  Whatever though.  You get the idea.