Monday, September 25, 2006

The roots of Zoe Strauss

I have been described many times as the first member of my immediate family to graduate from high school. While this is technically true, it's a very misleading description of my formative years.

First, I consider my immediate family to be my grandparents, Lee and Joe Baker, my mother, Ilene Baker and my siblings, Cosmo Baker, Walker Roberts and Savannah Roberts. My grandparents didn't graduate from high school, my grandmother went to Gratz and my grandfather went to Strawberry Mansion and both left school before 11 grade.

My mother went to Lincoln and also didn't receive a diploma. However, my mother is actually a brilliant and cultured woman. So what the fuck with the "high school" diploma shit? When things are being written about my work occasionally when the "working class" "high school diploma" blah blah blah comes up there is an undercurrent of classism that makes me uncomfortable.
There's the need to make me more "working class" in order to make me more "real" than I am, which is totally bullshit. And then there's the implication that unschooled = uncultured. What?

In addition, the father of my superb siblings, Walker and Savannah, did graduate from high school and went to college. And so did his entire family including my awesome Aunt Jane, who is a very important part of my family. Although I don't think of Walker and Savannah's father as member of my immediate family, there's some schooling in the mix. And certainly in my extended family there's a lot. Not that I give a fuck, but, apparently others do.

I'm not saying that the "first high school diploma" isn't an interesting aspect of my life in relation to my movin' on up in the art world. I do think it's interesting, especially because of the large number of artists who I've met that come from money and endless schooling, not to mention the sickness of the prestige that comes from money and education in the world of art. That being said, there's an undercurrent that smacks of shock and condescension when the discussion of class comes up.


Anonymous said...

it's like the punker than thou bullshit - the whole attempt to invalidate joe strummer and the clash because he wasn't working class. i like to think that we in the us are above that but clearly not. what matters is the art.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I think the whole concept is pretty dumb. How about, "She managed to graduate from high school only by paying others to do her homework and flirting shamelessly with her professors". How punk is that?! I mean seriously...