By: Anna Galperin
From our new issue, Necrononicon!
I sold my soul to the Dark Arts Newsletter, believing my destiny was guaranteed. My destiny of going to Pratt, but also of wearing second-hand Doc Martins from Search and Destroy, using my inherited privilege to displace long-standing communities, performatively empathizing with the homeless, and creating abstract sculptures out of literal trash.
My grooming began early on when I was handed off to my mentor, Miss Gregorovich, at the soulful age of seven. My mother told me the day she gave me away that M.G. would shape me to be the perfect artist and undergraduate Pratt applicant. She drove me up the hill miles away from civilization where a woman with moles, curling nails, and a growl greeted me. Shortly after, as if a spell were cast on me, I was able to replicate even the most intricate still lifes and had my work commissioned by a local Panera.
Grego homeschooled me, saying if my mind was anywhere but art then I would inevitably fail. I had no concept of numbers beyond twenty, and couldn’t be classified as a literate or particularly articulate child. All of this has been talk-to-text so far, and I think it’s going pretty alright. Because of my social isolation, I was given permission to design my living quarters. Walking into my room soon felt like walking into a Michaels craft store that got bought out by a Spencer’s Gifts. By the age of 12, my technique was perfect, but it didn’t matter. I wish I could tell my younger self that sheer technical perfection would never be enough for bureaucratic imps who think you need to go to “school” to have “balanced extracurriculars” and “grades.”
In my early teens I wore lace dresses from the seventeenth century, stopped washing my hair, and would sometimes use my body as a canvas for my art. Ms. G encouraged this kind of experimentation. She said if I only put the paint on the canvas, then I would just be another overconfident Pratt applicant with a passion for photography and an Instagram full of bad tattoo ideas. She said I had to push outside of conventional boundaries to be an artist. I painted my whole body purple and turned myself into a walking exhibit called “Spectrum.” I naively believed her.
At fifteen, I accidentally conjured a demon. Something Greggy had said in my formative lessons was to never use primary pastels on my body. I figured that was to avoid being tacky or something, but oops! Suddenly, there was a shapeless and faceless form in my room, transferring earth shattering knowledge into my brain: it showed me that all colors are but variations of one color, that dark isn’t a tone but a mood, that gallery spaces are the only scam bigger than Banksy’s recent Kickstarter to change the pronunciation of ‘paint’.
The demon had to take something from me in exchange for its mentorship and connections; it said that if I wished to be added to the Dark Arts Newsletter, I had to grant it access to the most valuable thing I had. I ran down the list: locket from my mother, my original Picasso, one of the 13 cats that followed me everywhere I went. But all of that felt too material, and the best artist at Pratt is anything but superficial. What better way to appeal to the admissions committee than to sell my own soul, simultaneously proving that I was both desperate and effortlessly cool? Losing the one thing everyone has is literally the definition of unique, and doing it to study cubism in Brooklyn is like double that.
This, I thought, was exactly what professors at Pratt desired to see. My exchange was surely paying off. Despite now lacking the capacity to empathize with others, I couldn’t wait to be drinking IPAs and locally fermented kombucha, having all the correct politics, and achieving among the student body a slightly higher social caste with my newly shaved head-- always knowing I had a leg up on any of my fellow applicants due to my expensive “education”.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, though, that education was found to be insufficient. On March 31, I was denied my rightful destiny. My spot at the Pratt Institute was given away to some soul-wielding girl with fucked up bangs so she could join her boyfriend in making water bottles “an art form” again.
My parentless childhood and commitment to difference weren’t enough to grant me a place at Pratt, but that’s not where my story ends. Your somewhat esteemed institution would be lucky to have such an accomplished artist and individual in their program. It’s not that I particularly want to attend Rutgers/Hofstra/SUNY Oneonta, but that I feel Rutgers/Emerson/Temple/SUNY Purchase and it’s faculty would do the most in recognizing my objective value. I know I have exemplified the qualities of resilience, tenacity, talent, and sacrifice, and I only hope your admissions office is willing to do the same. Perhaps we could even make a deal?