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The Seven Suits of St. Vincent

My younger son's teachers have all taken me aside at one point and another to tell me that I need to encourage his precocious artistic talent. My deadpan reply to them is to say that we, as professional educators and parents need to work together to nip that precocious talent in the bud! They would consign a child to a lifetime of squatting in grotty apartments, weeks of Ramen noodle rations, and telemarketing to pay for it? What kind of monsters are they??? (Monsters with dental, that's what kind!)

It doesn't necessarily get me upset when they lament cutbacks in the arts in schools. I say we take a few moments of science and consider letting the arts fall where they may. I say why not wheedle in a little lesson in scientific illustration while dissecting that frog or talk about the mathematics of the golden mean? But people say that's just me, which is to say, a heretic, worthy of burning.

Well, anyway, I caved and signed the kid up for Art Camp. I would have anyway. I think.

But the local summer art program is expensive. So I had to do what all artists do when they want something expensive: they trade on the equity of their very souls. (Eventually, many artists over-extend their credit, leading to an artistic mortgage crisis later in life.) So, my son's artistic talent will be encouraged for the price of my teaching 7 'tweens and teenagers the fabulously fun and oh-so potentially lucrative possibilities of costume design for one week.

Last summer, I had each student bring in a garment of their own to which, as I said in the brochure, we would do artsy-sounding things like "de-construct" and "manipulate using a variety of techniques." The kids were a not a little confused by the project. They had no interest in drawing and most had never touched a needle and thread, nor did they want to really.

This summer, I've bought 7 men's suits from St. Vincent de Paul thrift store for 7 bucks each: dark blue, navy pinstripe, gray jackets and pants.
Each student will have a suit to work with. Using a variety of techniques, students will manipulate the pieces through reduction (cutting it up), adding on (putting in gussets, flares, extensions) or embellishment (beading, embroidery, paint). For the student show, I thought a tableaux vivant of The Seven Suits of St. Vincent would have a visual impact.


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