A few years ago in preparing to begin graduate school at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I tore the cover off a brochure for Ox-Bow, an art school affiliated with SAIC located in Saugatuk, Michigan. I was terrified to begin school again. I was going to be an older graduate student woefully untalented, out-of-date, and disconnected from the current trends in the worlds of art and more severely technology. I clung to the torn brochure for reassurance because printed in a neat list numbered one to ten were Sister Corita Kent's Rules. These rules were my road map for school--for keeping an open mind and heart. With this wisdom, I could push fear to the side just enough so that I could squeeze some learning through the opening.
I would return to this artist's/educator's rules throughout my semesters at SAIC, and I still come back to them as I consider how to approach each day. I may have graduated a year and half ago, but I still feel like I am learning heaps and mounds as I develop my art practice, launch a business, read books, listen to books and podcasts, and observe my environments. I try to remember Sister Corita Kent's rules as I glean from each experience whatever nuggets of truth that I can manage to sift out. Perhaps you will find them useful, too--especially those of you going back to school in the fall.
PS I'm so glad that I took her advice on the last of her hints in saving this severed brochure.
Copied from Ox-Bow's 2014 brochure :
Sister Corita Kent's Rules
Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
Rule 2: General duties of a student---pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
Rule 3: General duties of a teacher---pull everything out of your students.
Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment.
Rule 5: Be self-disciplined--this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
Rule 6: Nothing is a mistake. there's no win and no fail, there's only make.
Rule 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
Rule 8: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.
Rule 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.
Rule 10: "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities." ---John Cage
Hints: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything --it might come in handy later.
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.