THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter #17
While attending Rosemary Hall, my intent was to head for medical school and all that I imagined that it would be, partly due to a keen interest in Veterinary Medicine and the happy hours I had spent with Dr. Robert Riggins the summer of 1957.What happened at Garrison, was put out of my mind as I was too busy to think much about why I had been asked to leave the school.Mummy and Daddy mentioned something about “not being able to afford it.” That seemed to be a satisfactory answer at the time. It was not until I was in my thirties that my Grandmother told me why I had been asked to leave Garrison.I think that Dr. Schlogen must have scared the you- know-what out of my poor parents!Was there any more to this tale? I don’t know of course, because the subject was never again mentioned… by anyone.
So now, September 1958, I am back home once again, and not quite sure of why I was sent to Rosemary Hall.But this is how it was explained to me.It had been recommended to my parents, I never knew by whom, that twins should never go to the same school and that comparisons would inevitably be drawn between the two and this was to be avoided at all costs.It was thought that in separate schools, there would not be any temptation to compare one twin with the other.
By the end of her tenth grade, my sister’s leg had finally mended and successful therapy had her back in the saddle.Once again she could attend The Greenwich Academy with her class.Amazingly, Instead of repeating the ninth grade, she carried a double load of all her ninth and tenth grade courses at once, so that she could remain with, and graduate with, her class in June of 1960. This must have been an incredibly difficult thing for her to do, but she did it and hung in there to the bitter end.She graduated with her class and went on to attend The Briar Cliff College in Briarcliff Manor, New York and then on to Columbia where she graduated with a Teaching Degree.
Rosemary Hall was a wonderful experience too. The workload was awesome but somehow Music Appreciation with Joan Lundy and Art with Julius Delbos were slipped into our schedules.At the end of every school year, the entire student body had the extraordinary privilege of performing in Shakespeare’s Plays in the School’s outdoor amphitheater.These were massive productions.Even now, I can still see my friend Jane Fillastre, strumming her lute by the stream, tripping and falling into the water onto her belly.She never missed a note and kept right on playing and singing while stuck in the muck!In my junior year, because I was a day student,
I also had time to take a year of Ballet classes with teacher/choreographer, Felicity Foote at the Greenwich Ballet Work Shop.There, we were trained in the strict, classical traditions of The Russian Ballet.The lessons learned there would become the foundation for my dance sculptures in the coming years.
The last year of high school was tough going. The reality of getting into a college hung over our heads.My summer with Bobby Riggins, still had a powerful influence on me and medical school is where I was headed. I had heard that Columbia School of Physicians and Surgeons in New York had an accelerated program that would let one go directly to medical school from High School and in effect, you would graduate from both The University and Medical School at the same time.I decided that this program was made for me.Of course this route would be tough, but I thought that it could be done.I was determined to try. I called the school in October of my senior year and made an appointment for an interview in New York City.I was feeling very grown up taking a train to the city alone and then a taxi to the interview uptown.I was told, almost as soon as I walked in the door, that“You are quite attractive and will most likely get married and have children, and such candidates are a waste of our time and resources. Go home Miss Kelsey and be a nurse.Here is a brochure for the Hartford School of Surgical Nursing.They will take you down there.”And that was the end of the interview!
This interview caused my thinking to change course.Maybe music and maybe art? What to do? Now at the same time, both my twin sister and I had been invited to participate in the “ Gladstone” try outs for U.S. Olympic, Equestrian Jumping Team.We were good riders but not nearly that good. Neither of us was really qualified but it was nice to have been asked.The Horse option, of course, just added to the confusion of what to do.
I applied to the Peabody School of Music, The Rhode Island School of Design and the Hartford School of Surgical Nursing and was accepted by all three.O’ What to do?Confronted by both parents, I was told to make up my mind, on the spot and stick to my decision for at least two years.What to do? What to do? Well, I did not know what to do.But there was something that I did know and want, and that was, that I liked and wanted boys!Of that, I was certain.
I thought they were terrific and I was absolutely sure, that where ever I was sent, I would flatly refuse to go to another all girls’ school.So that decision immediately crossed out nursing school!I panicked over music school because I am dyslexic and could not read a note of music and was sure I would fail. That left Art School….RISD, I stammered. “ I will go to RISD.”
Thank goodness for Miss Rice’s words about art school and the Rhode Island School of Design because it was RISD that quelled the crisis. If you are accepted at RISD, you are automatically accepted at Brown University and can take whatever courses you want to at Brown as long as you can fit it into your schedule. What was Art School all about? What was I going to do with my life? I didn’t have a clue, but at least there were boys in the neighborhood and Mummy and Daddy were greatly relieved not to have their daughters, globe trotting with strange men and their horses!
In the fall of 1959, Hello RISD!I accepted RISD’s early decision offer and absolutely loved the college and college life. RISD accepts you “As you are.”You have only to be yourself. There is no criticism of the individual, only of the work produced.The student body was made up of many different kinds of people, of every race, creed, color and sexual orientation. I was very grateful for my public school education, which allowed both my sister and me to fit into whatever environment we might find our selves. In the first year at RISD you take lots of survey courses and at the end of the year, you select your major.Daddy told me to sign up for Illustration for my major, just in case I might have to support myself one day. Now that was a thought that never crossed my mind!In those days you did what your father told you to do!So I signed up for illustration at the end of my freshman year and by September 1960, was placed in the Sculpture Program by a clerical error.So much for good planning!Anyway, sculpture stuck like a band-aid and college life was underway!
THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter #18
In the fall of 1959, I accepted RISD's early decision offer and said hello to college life in September of 1960. RISD accepts you "as you are." You have onlytobe yourself. there is criticism of the individual, only of the work produced. The student body was made up of many different kinds of people, of every race, creed, color and sexual orientation. I was very grateful for my public school education, allowed both my sister and me to fit into whatever environment we found ourselves. In the first at RISD, you take alot of survey courses and at the end of the year, you select your major. Ddaddy told me to,"sign up for Illustration sweetheart, just incase you might have to support yourself one day. (That thought never crossed my mind.) In those days, you did what your father told you to do. Obediently, I signed up for Illustration at the end of my Freshman year. It was here, that the angels intervened! In September, i found myself placed in the Sculpture program due to a clerical error! So much for good planning! Anyway, Sculpture stuck like a Band-Aid and my career as a Sculptor was underway!
In November 1960, Mummy and Daddy were enroute to Williams College for Alumni Weekend and stopped by to see how I was doing in my new life in Providence.I remember Mum was all dressed up in a purple wool suit, beautifully fitted and looking absolutely gorgeous.The purple suit was chosen especially for that weekend.Mum was sporting the Williams’ colors.I was taking them on a brief tour of the campus when Daddy paused and said, “Golly Sweetheart, there sure are an awful lot of men around here in the middle of the week. Where are they coming from? Wow!Almost three months at RISD before Daddy found out that RISD was co-ed!
By this time I was thoroughly ensconced in my new surroundings.. From that moment on, I had Mummy and Daddy’s support.
As freshmen, all of us carried eight courses each semester: Art History, Creative Writing, Two Dimensional Design, Three Dimensional Design: Lettering, Life Drawing, Anatomy and Nature Drawing. For the first time in my life I had no one to answer to.
I could set my own schedule and fit into it, as many visits to Brown University as I could. I took Comparative Religion up there and sang in a church choir on campus, early each morning.Choir members were paid $1.00 to sing which put some spending money in our pockets. Choir singing also offered one a chance to meet Boys. Life was Great!
The Freshman Foundation courses at RISD introduce you to many different fields in the arts.In addition to the survey courses, dance, theater, and music courses were offered, and yes, all of Brown University as well! Just as important, you met students from all over the country with differing ideas and opinions on education, art and politics.Excellent discussions on every possible subject happened daily in the dorms, in the classrooms, in coffee shops and on street corners.The RISD education sought to teach students, how to teach themselves and how to get themselves out of a rut should they happened to find themselves in one!We were exposed to all forms of Art, both contemporary and classical.Then we were encouraged to define our own ideas of what Art should be. Class discussions and criticisms of ones’ work were unceasing and intense. That sort of thing toughened us up for the real world to come and it forced us to defend our work and believe in ourselves.
At this point, I must say that one cannot underestimate the contributions of our faithful RISD models. Ulla was a gentle soul, with Renoir Hair, whose fair skin was strewn with a multitude of happy freckles.And then there was Trula, who lived in an old, dark gray coup, which was parked just outside the school and packed to the gills with“what-not.”Trula would bring all of her “what-not” to class and either knitted or crocheted her way through the hours. Trula, was shaped like a pyramid. She would peer through her half-inch thick spectacles, while chatting with the students, and sharing her knowledge of just how to make these “What-nots.” Jackie, big and beautiful, looked like a living Gaston La Chaise and of course there was Johnnie.Johnnie was an antique, who owned one position only. You would always see Johnnie standing firmly on both feet, supporting himself with a wooden staff. Each and every muscle could be seen through his taught, transparent skin.You could learn a lot from Johnnie.Beautiful Jenny Bornstein modeled for many years at RISD and is well known among the RISD Alumni. Sometimes, Jenny would take over the class for Mr. Macumber who was elderly, portly and sometimes too tired to teach. Jenny would walk barefooted, with only a bit of soft silk wrapped around her, from one student to the next, handing down her crits” whenever she thought they were needed.When I knew Jenny, she was well into her seventies. Oh yes …How could I forget Carl Markowitz? He was most extraordinary!No one could ever forget Carl Markowitz. Carl took his work very seriously and invested himself heavily into the study of the contra-posta positioning of the figure.It was rumored that Carl had published two books on the subject of the artist’s model. The first book was titled: “Modeling Is A Lost Art “ The second book was titled: “ Modeling is Not a Lost Art.”I never saw these photographic essays, although I did see many photographs of Carl himself at work!Whether true or not, Carl was a great model! Lastly, there was Charlie and his wife, who worked together as a team, teaching us how to work with related figures on the page.When they were not modeling, they ran a nudist camp, somewhere up in the northern part of the state.
John Mazur’s Anatomy class was intense. We learned the figureinside and out. Full figure drawings of skeletons from every view were assigned and drawings of the muscle structures of every part of the anatomy.The final examination was frightening.
We were not advised in advanced as to what the exam would be but of course we assumed that it would be on anatomy.In fact it was. However….the model arrived and sat down in a rather twisted position on her chair.The assignment:To draw the entire figure from the opposite point of view from where you were seated!First, we had to draw the figure with a skeleton inside.Then we had to draw the figure with all the musculature included. All of this was done based on ones knowledge and imagination of the figure from the opposite view.This sort of discipline is why you received such a good education at RISD.
The next three years were devoted to sculpture, the figure, and forms in space, mold making, and bronze casting. Yes! We were going to cast our very own sculptures into bronze!However 1962, RISD had no casting facilities.Before we could do this, we would have to build our own furnace, in order to melt the bronze.The new foundry was relegated to a filthy little stone room in the bottom of Benson Hall.It took several weeks to build under the expert care of sculptor and foundry master, Thomas Morin.At last we were ready to cast the first bronzes ever to be made at RISD.
We were very excited to demonstrate the casting process to several very well dressed, members of the board who gathered to see the first pouring.The fires were lighted, the furnace roared.The crucibles were heated and ingots of bronze were carefully dropped into place with long handled tongs. Wow what a day!We were making history!The new process was underway.Fires licked the sides of the crucible and you could see the bronze begin to puddle.And then…Well….then it happened. All hell broke loose.The heat set off the sprinkling systems.The old pipes burst, spewing black soot and rusted water in all directions.When the water hit the molten bronze, it exploded into steam.There stood our beautiful board of directors, covered in black soot and slime. It was back to the drawing boards and several more weeks before we had the furnaces back in operation. In the late spring of 1962, we finally got to cast our sculptures after all!What an extraordinary challenge and accomplishment.I was hooked on bronze from that moment on. Graduation took place in June of 1964.