Who is Emily — is she the whitebread, fit-in-at-any-cost suburban girl, or is she the budding art student who takes the bus to downtown Philadelphia three days a week?
It wasn't the summer that Emily had expected. Now that her best friend Meg had a boyfriend, Emily was just a third wheel, no matter how much they insisted that she do things with them. So when Emily was invited to go to a prestigious art school in Philadelphia three days a week, she jumped at the chance. Everyone always said her sketches were wonderful.
But when she began her classes and discovered that other students were far more talented and passionate about their art than she was, Emily began to wonder if she'd made the right choice. Her art supplies were brand-new, the best that money could buy, not cheap and well-worn, like the other students'. She didn’t have a portfolio. She’d never kept a sketchbook, just doodled in the margins of her notebooks when she was bored in school. She took art class because it seemed like an easy A, even though she really liked it when she got into it.
Her Mixed Media class was okay, and she liked the teacher. But her Drawing teacher, Mr. Frank, was intimidating, and for their first lesson, he wanted them to draw a woman a naked woman! Emily hadn’t ever seen a real naked person before — how could she draw one? In public! But she seemed to be the only person who was shocked — across the room, pencils were flying.
Soon life began to feel schizophrenic — she was one person at home in bland, suburban Cherry Grove, where everyone tried to fit in, and a totally different person at school, where everyone wanted to be unique. But who was she really? She could feel herself changing, seeing everything with new eyes, including herself. And she knew she’d already learned one big lesson at art school — once you see the world and yourself from a new perspective, there’s no going back.
The booktalk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, librarian, consultant, and internationally known booktalking expert.