Country, family, community, beliefs, race, cultural norms and accepted behaviors: we are born into this world with many of these factors pre-determined for us. So what’s a teenager to do? As Portfolio Medalists Patrick Zapien and Jackson Trice see it, there’s just one choice: to rebel.
For Jackson, a born-and-bred Southerner, “I Should Be Leaving” deals with how she feel s about her place in the world, coming of age, and the natural urge to revolt that comes with it.
“It goes back to this central question I’ve posed for myself which is: what makes me want to rebel?” she reflects. “Perhaps it is in my blood. And perhaps, I dare to say, I am okay with it.”
I Should Be Leaving (an excerpt)
I’d known Sandy about fifteen minutes when she asked me how I felt about Obamacare. She took a sip of her red wine, then a bite of her grilled chicken salad, waiting for my answer. Finally she said, “He’s trying to turn our country Socialist if you ask me.” We sat in a booth together at a restaurant called The Black Bear Saloon inside Bradley International Airport. I was flying back home alone from visiting a women’s college in western Massachusetts. With a couple hours until my next flight, I chose The Black Bear Saloon because I wanted to do something I couldn’t when I traveled with my parents, like order a twenty-five dollar salmon filet at an airport restaurant. It was lunch hour, and the restaurant’s seats were nearly filled. The line for a table stretched down the glimmering walkway of the airport. When the waitress asked me if someone else could share my table with me, I said sure.
Sandy would later tell me that she recently turned eighty, but towering over me and the table at almost six feet tall, she looked, at the most, sixty-five. She had few wrinkles: a whisper of crow’s feet around her eyes, parenthesis lined either side of her mouth. She wore deep red nail polish so shiny the restaurant reflected on the end of each finger. She wore heavy make-up, heavy gold earrings, a heavy diamond ring on her ring finger. When my water and her red wine were brought to the table, I said, “God, I’d love some of that right now.”
As soon as I said it, I regretted it. I don’t know what prompted me to say that in the first place. Not particularly the outgoing type, I was never the person to crack a joke with a stranger. But I wanted Sandy to think I was cool for reasons that seem silly now. I didn’t expect Sandy to pick up the glass and motion for me to take it. “Quick,” she said, “Before anyone sees.”
Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Texas (Houston, to be exact), Patrick plays with cultural institutions and preconceived notions of art and rebellion . He uses “simulation and spectacle” to create a “language of resistance.” As he explains, “I repeat absurd, trite one-liners and exaggerated stereotypes of revolutionary thought as a way of investing in their sentiment while exploring their implications or limitations.” His works create a “situation of confrontation” that asks the viewer to reconsider the notions of art, home, family, as well as rebellion itself.
Jackson’s writing process and the product itself is packed with feeling and challenges readers in its own way. Here’s how she explains it:
“My objective, when I write, is to get as close to the source of emotion as possible, so that when someone else reads it, they can have an emotional experience with a piece, just like I did. Throughout this portfolio, I want people to feel wild, inspired, raw.”
Reprisal (an excerpt)
… I imagine
I escape. That I shave the golden
fur from my hind legs, strip
myself naked, pink
as a christening. That I take
to the highway. Become
my own owner. Let the road
work me over the way
the ocean pulls grains of sand
like stubborn teeth from the jaw
of the shoreline & carries them
across the whole Atlantic.
Want more than a slice of Trice and a peek at Patrick? Go to: www.artandwriting.org/galleries to read and view their entire 2014 Gold Medal Portfolios.