I've gotten into the swing of things as far as studio life is concerned and am realizing the true joy of having dedicated time to work on art. I'm getting only a brief glimpse of this life, but some artists get to do it all the time! Part of me is jealous, but most of me likes the structure of the school day and would miss being a teacher or student if my days were dedicated to full time studio work. Because of this, I've continued to hop in on classes offered by the school, balancing them with independent work time. It's given me an opportunity to learn new things about art, but also to be around people of different backgrounds, languages and cultures. This has continued to push me further outside my "I am the center of the universe" box.
Today it was woodcut printing with Franco again. This post wasn't intended to be an update from last week, but I will throw out there that round two went MUCH better and I got a hearty, "Hey, hey!" and a thumbs up from Franco when I pulled my print so I feel better. Glad I gave it another shot.
At the start of class, we sat around the table while Franco gave us a pretty in-depth summary of the history of woodcut printing and how printmaking made the world more democratic by providing print materials to people on a massive scale. He provided a number of examples of printed materials that made it big, including the "Gioco Del'Oca". When he said this, the Europeans at the table all smiled and chuckled while the Americans gave a blank stare. Our translator Roberta said, "You are familiar with "Gioco Del'Oca"? I don't know what it is in English, but it's a popular game...you know it?" I shook my head and one of the men who knows a little English tried to help. "The one with the goose!" Everyone lit up and repeated, "Yes, yes, the goose! Goose game!" They looked at the Americans expectantly; surely this new bit of information would clear everything up! We continued to look confused. Roberta said, "It's the goose game! Everyone knows it, right? The game of the goose!" Another woman chimed in, "It has the gooses on it!" I felt bad, but had to keep reiterating that I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. They looked at me as if I had never heard of some obvious concept...like I never learned that 2 + 2 = 4. How could I not know about the goose game???
After a bit more discussion, it finally came to light that there is this board game with a goose design on it. It was the first widely distributed table game and it was made possible because of print innovations at the time (which is why Franco referenced it in the first place). Apparently everyone in this part of the world is familiar with it, and not knowing this game would be akin to being born in the US and never hearing about Monopoly. Once we talked it out and got our ducks (geese?) in a row, we all had a common understanding of what Franco was trying to convey, but it wasn't immediate. It took some work, discussion, lighthearted fighting, Google, and a willingness on the part of both parties to accept that what we may see as a perfectly normal aspect of culture might not be shared. A discussion about a goose game may seem a bit silly, but it was a good reminder for me that even with more serious issues, it's possible to take a step back and learn where others are coming from. It's always worthwhile work to undertake.