Wednesday, February 2, 2011

“18 x 18” (18 Years x 18 Year-Olds): An installation by Linda Vega

“18 x 18”
18 Years x 18 Year-Olds

An installation by Linda Vega, in collaboration with Hiroshi Sunairi
On view January 26 – February 5, 2011
...Opening Reception on Wednesday, January 26th, 5-7 PM

On June 1st, 2011, I will be retiring after nearly forty years spent advising students at several of the best art schools and universities in the country, including these last eighteen years here in the Art Department at NYU. These years have been a privilege, a challenge, and deeply fulfilling. I have learned so much from the students, the faculty and my colleagues, and I have grown so much as a person.

When I graduated from college, I had no idea about the kind of job I could possibly get as an English major without any discernible skills or experience. I would not have guessed this would be my career. But I knew I loved being in college, so it’s worked out fine that I never left. My very first job (before I figured this all out) was at an insurance company, where I was desperately unhappy. I visited a guru (it was 1970!) and told him “all I want to do is help people.” He asked me why I wasn’t willing to help the people at the insurance company. That’s when I learned the value of good advice and moved on to a better place.

I have saved all the Polaroid photos of my students at NYU, taken on one of the most significant days of their college lives¬—their first day of orientation. You can sense their excitement and their vulnerability. I have kept them as a talisman and as a reminder of the bright and talented kids who have taken the place of the real children that were not in the cards for me in this lifetime.

I have worried and fretted over you, been thrilled with your accomplishments, and, on many occasions, been totally exasperated by you (you know who you are!). But, thankfully, my memory only preserves the very best in each and every one of you.

Many thanks to Hiroshi Sunairi, for his video and for his assistance in putting this installation together. Thanks, also, to Nancy Barton for her beautiful color photograph, “The Apotheosis of Linda Vega.” And, especially, thank you to all my students, wherever you are.

Linda Vega
January 2011

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