I am known for my abstract paintings, public art, and local arts activity. This perspective and drive started with an insincere desire to become an architect. This series is a detour from my usual work, reflecting on my abandonment of architecture as a life long career. It is about regret, desire, wonder, and cultural and societal critique.
I did everything right before going into architecture school: I had a mentorship with a local architect. I took drafting. I got a bunch of fancy books.
Yet when I built models, they fell apart. When I took tests on the major architectural wonders of the world, I failed miserably. I mispronounced French, Greek, and Italian towns and couldn’t get my centuries straight. I had no skills, no worldly context, or the ability to catch up in the typical college semester time frame.
I was screwed.
So, I left the program, much to my female dean’s dismay. I saw her rigid “wearing all black” Ayn Rand-ish self, slump in her chair, almost “whining” that I was only 1 of 3 young women n the program, and to please reconsider. I told her that I was afraid I wouldn’t be doing much more than nice garages and church additions. Nothing truly great. I didn’t even know where the Louvre was! I had a strip mall in my town of Sartell… and a paper mill, of course. This was not ample preparation for greatness. And I wanted to be great at something, dangit.
This series of collages allowed me to come to terms with this story. I don’t like blaming society, but after I looked through the magazines my mother (Home Beautiful) and my engineering grandfather (Scientific American) most likely read, I realized that it would have taken a much stronger desire for me to truly succeed in that field of Architecture. MUCH STRONGER.
Yet, if I would have seen more female architects, had more women mentors, or maybe a few more toys to help me imagine my future as an architect, then maybe it would be different.
So, although I kinda gave up, I still dance within space like I built it, admire the queen bees that made it, and keep making something out of nothing everyday. I teach art in STEM based programs at schools because I believe that this quitting story must be told. I want to look girls in the eyes and encourage them to push themselves into spaces that are still not truly open to them.
Be Bold. Make Stuff.
- Heidi Jeub, Artist.