It would be hard to encapsulate all that San Francisco Art & Film for Teenagers has given me, for it seems much of that will be revealed in the years to come. However, in the last year and a half that Art & Film, Isaiah Dufort and Ronald Chase have been in my life, I have learned so much about art, and also about being a good, engaged person.
My experiences with Art & Film began with Cine Club, as I had to go every six weeks for Creative Writing. The first Friday of freshman year, I journeyed across the city a bit confused to see Moonrise Kingdom, and absolutely loved it. The upperclassmen had warned me that Art & Film movies could be odd or impenetrable, but Moonrise Kingdom was an easy start. The plot was simple enough, and the sheer beauty of Wes Anderson’s filmic style made the entire evening a pastel and sweet memory. On that Saturday morning, I sat down to write an essay about the film (also for class) and marveled at how watching this film and hearing the discussion had engaged me but also lead me to deeper thoughts on the piece. I was commenting on color and camera angles, things I’d never considered when watching films before. Since then, I’ve missed as few films as possible, and only then begrudgingly. The Friday night movies became a ritual, something to motivate me through the school week.
Later in the year, I went to my first Free Ticket event, Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party. To this day, I can remember numerous scenes, and the joy of standing huddled outside afterwards with Ronald, as he explained to the little group of students how well it had been directed. Watching this play inspired me to read more plays, and then, in turn, try writing them myself. Two years ago, I never would have guessed I would enjoy writing a ten minute play, or even have any idea about how to go about that, but with the guidance of Art and Film, as well as SOTA Creative Writing, I have found myself more confident in attempting to make my own art and exploring my interests.
As a child, my grandmother took me to many art museums, and though I loved seeing the paintings and sculpture, I never analyzed what I saw. Art and Film has taught me to understand how a piece of art creates emotion and how to look for technical mastery while still allowing me to form personal opinions and discuss them with my peers. At the galleries, Ronald makes a habit of appearing behind students and asking for their opinion before explaining to them how that effect was created, be it with use of light, color or line. I distinctly remember my first trip to the Frankel Gallery, to see the work of Sol Lewitt. Ronald described how she created an alphabet of curves, and to this day I often remember the power of Lewitt’s alphabet, how Ronald’s pushing me to see the piece as something deeper than curves on a wall brought this piece life, made me want to decode the alphabet, or explore it myself.
I have found myself among an incredible community of young people, unafraid of trying on opinions and engaging themselves absolutely without qualms. As I became more engaged in Art & Film, Isaiah invited me to intern, and one of the primary jobs is standing out front of Cine Club, greeting students. This has allowed me to learn the regular’s names, and feel that I belong in the community. Art & Film has allowed me to meet like minded people from schools across the city, as well as providing engaging events to attend with peers. After each film, my friends and I gather again outside of SFAI to discus the movie further. As I write this, the last film I saw was The Conformist, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. In the December cold, we attempted to piece together Bertolucci’s non-linear narrative, discussing the use of color palettes that Ronald brought up in the group discussion further, and as always, the bus ride home was tinted with the ecstatic buzz of loving a piece of art.
Isaiah and Ronald too are such incredible people. Apart from being encouraging and inspiring mentors, they have become close friends and people I look up to. Frequently, I find myself seated near Ronald Chase, as he speaks about visual art, film or the symphony, and the wisdom and insight impossible to gain without the experience Ronald has is so valuable to the young artist. And Isaiah counters him beautifully with blunt opinions and determination for perfection. Please help us make Art & Film an opportunity for generations of young people to participate it, there is no grater program for the young mind.
Hannah Duane, class of 2021