Bloody Sockets The National 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were announced last week. This more or less passed without my notice until I was searching for a decent “Throwback Thursday” image for this week. I’d plunked slides of all of my old work into the carousel (yes I still have a slide projector) and ka-chunk-ka-chunked my way through them until I got to Bloody Sockets. Yes, this is the title of the piece, not a symptom I experienced by revisiting work from as far back as elementary school.
Bloody Sockets was a mixed-media painting that I created in my senior year of high school, as part of yet another assignment to do something creative with animals as the theme. I don’t know where I found the image of a pack of African Wild Dogs - it was likely in National Geographic. Part of the assignment was to make it a mixed-media piece, so I believe there are torn chunks of cardboard underneath the paint. The eyes are made of dried, round globs of white paint, set into sockets excavated from the cardboard layer. I painted them a glowing red - I remember wanting it to be shocking and creepy, also my teacher thought that leaving them white was too weird.
Anyway. Another assignment down and I was happy with the painting. Then the Scholastic Art Awards came around. This was something of which I was vaguely aware since in years past our teachers had chosen works from among our classes and sent them off to who-knows-where for who-knows-what. The art would return with fancy labels on the back and I would sometimes receive a little gold or silver key pin. None of this was ever explained. Stuff would often just disappear. No mention of any competition, where the work was going, the fact that it could move through juries to a national competition, nor that Scholastic Art Awards had been won by artists like Andy Warhol, judged by the likes of Robert Frost, and that scholarships might be involved at the national level.
I was unphased by the whole affair, not being a particularly competitive or art-career minded student. I was happy to ‘win’ these regional awards and maybe get mentioned in the local paper (also vaguely remember this happening). It was all fine and dandy, until that final year. Bloody Sockets went off to Boston for the regional judging. It won a “The Best of Show Award,” and it never came back. I never saw the painting again except in slide form as this was sent back to my school and handed over to me.
I can only imagine it sitting in some dusty storage room, if it was not thrown away years and years ago. Some poor gallery manager likely laid eyes on it from time to time and, creeped out by those glowing, demonic eyes, slunk away mumbling, “I’ll deal with this another time.”