When I was an art major in college, a sculpture by Robert Maki was installed outside the fine arts building. It was a modernist metal work that not everyone at Wake Forest cozied up to. A few days after the installation, someone spray-painted on its facade, “Is this art?”
Like the graffitist, I couldn’t explain the artist’s intent. I was just finding my own way as an art major, trying to figure out how and when to stretch my creative edge. I was 20 years old and feeling my way through life, trying on new things I never would have dared in high school. It was scary stuff.
When Robert Maki’s art was defaced, I spoke out. I wrote an angry editorial for the Old Gold and Black, which included my first and hopefully last (other than here) public use of the word “ignoramus.” And then I rallied my pledge class to clean the sculpture of its graffiti.
While I didn’t really know it at the time, I was taking a stand for the thing that Wake Forest taught me best: how use my creative edge for what I believe in. I’ve been using it ever since.