Mae found a spot on the floor and sat cross-legged among ten other painting students to wait for the critique to begin. A few metal chairs were spread haphazardly around the room, but they had been taken by the time she arrived.
All the students’ paintings were leaning against the wall with only their backs visible, revealing wooden supports, names and directions for hanging. Mae laughed to herself, imagining them as kids playing hide and seek and hiding their faces. Her painting lay beside her, rolled into a five-foot cylinder and tied with red string.
This was Mae’s first critique in her new painting class. She had earned a BFA in art and education from Texas Christian University a month earlier and had immediately decided to look at graduate art programs.
“Well, I’ll be damned!” Mae’s mother had said when she told her. She stood with her hands on her hips, knee-high stockings rolled below her knees, wearing her usual snap-closure robe as a housedress. Her face was pinched in a scowl and her eyes were narrow and penetrating.
JANE O’SHIELDS HAYNER is a writer and visual artist, living in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains in southern California. Her work spans the distance between the personal and universal. Her words and images traverse cultural, political and spiritual terrains that bleed into one another and blur at the edges. Jane is a practicing occupational therapist with a specialty in home health, and she has a history in teaching art. She lives with her husband and two of their four children on the edge of a canyon, with domestic and wild creatures. Jane writes creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Her recent work has been published in Tiferet Journal, Friends Journal, Lady Liberty Lit., The Manifest Station and Western Friend.