I was recently having a book discussion with my MFA and BFA students and we started discussing the importance of making art. Something in the book got us talking about how a viewer may see something you created and it could profoundly change them in some way that you may never even know. These changes could be as small as a better mood or as large as a giant life decision.
Last week I received an email from one of our new art majors. The email contained a photo of a student sculpture installed on campus and the emailer wanted to know if I could connect her with the student sculptor. The emailer said that when she visited our campus on a tour last year she saw the sculpture and was impressed. She said that when she saw the sculpture she knew this was the school she wanted to attend. She was able to send a note of thanks to the student who made it and who unknowingly helped her make a pretty big decision.
This makes me wonder about the impacts of the things we do. You know, the ones we never get a note about and the ones we never hear about. And I’m not only talking about artwork. What about the stranger you greeted with a smile, the dude you held the door open for, or the kid who received a Christmas gift that you randomly donated at a toy drive?
Today would have been my dad’s birthday. I thought about him a lot today. He told me jokes like it was his job. He made everyone smile. He had the best stories. He worked hard. He laughed hard. He had a sparkle in his eyes. He had an expression for everything. He made everyone feel welcome. My dad was the coolest.
He was also a great teacher. He taught me how to weld with an old stick welder when I was seven. He probably thought that was funny. He spent years teaching me about steel, about tools, and about how to build just about anything. He taught a lot of people how to weld during his years as a welding instructor. Those students were all, no doubt, changed by having him as a teacher. Many showed up at his funeral to share their gratitude and stories.
If I’ve taught you how to weld or if I’ve taught you anything related to 3D art, you have my dad to thank for that. If you won an award, got into a show, or got a job because of your portfolio, my dad had a part in that. If I’ve made you laugh, made you feel welcome, or given you a nickname, my dad gets credit for that. And if you went on to be a teacher or if you had any other impacts on the people in your life, there’s a piece of my dad in that too.
It’s really amazing to think about how my dad could reverberate through the world in so many lives. It makes me want to be a better person.