Last week I went to my former high school teacher's funeral. I'm deeply saddened by her death. She was a beautiful, intelligent, and strong woman.
I met Mrs. Astudillo my first day at Clarence high school in late December 1999. My family had just moved to Buffalo. My first day of school was hectic; by my second class I realized moving was no piece of cake. The accents were different, I had no friends, I kept losing my way through the building, and I had a TON of homework to make up (4 months of homework to be exact). I looked at my schedule relieved to see Studio Art was my next class. I eagerly walked into the room and quickly learned I had a lot to hard work ahead of me. My art classes in the past taught me things, but this was different. Mrs. Astudillo handed me 4 months worth of art assignments I needed to makeup - which consisted of perspective drawings, still life studies, ink drawings, a self portrait, among many others. I took many art classes before but this was way more intense. Art class was always a relaxing place for me; this was not. Mrs. A demanded the most of out everyone including herself. I continued you take several classes with Mrs. A - Studio Art, Drawing and Painting, Computer Art, and Advertising. She taught us the fundamentals and principles of design and conceptual art that helped me throughout my years at University studying Art. Mrs. A taught art like a science. I have many fond memories of walking through the Albright Knox with our class on field trips.
On Sept 11, 2001 I first learned of the World Trade center being attacked after my gym class on my way to Mrs. A's Advertising class. We sat silent and watched the television. At this point we thought it was just an accident, then another plane hit the other building. Mrs. A was a very very strong woman. This experience of 9-11 brought her to tears, and I thought "uh oh this isn't good." I wasn't sure what exactly what was going on in our country when this first happened, but judging from our teachers reaction our nation was in trouble.
I wish I could talk to her now. We often take for granted the time we have to tell people how much they meant to us until it's too late. The funeral was absolutely beautiful. Following the funeral was a reception at the Burchfield Penney Art Museum of her work. She had so many beautiful watercolor paintings. Memories of her classes and painting tips she would tell us began to slowly come back in my mind. Yellow ocheres, burnt umber, raw sienna paint names run through my head. It was great to see her beautiful family, friends, and artwork all together. You could just feel her smiling down.
Mrs. A battled breast cancer for two decades. Yes, she was very strong. Mrs. A taught me the importance of the process and not just the finished product when it came to art making. Every time I pick up a paint brush and paint I will think of you Mrs. A.