imkirkwood artist

I create visual narratives with my fine art drawings and computer prints


I was prejudice, I see that now

Posted by iris m. kirkwood on September 1, 2010 at 11:05 AM

       It is amazing how you can live for more than half a century and still wake up one morning to discover something about yourself that you never ever suspected.



              I have tried four times in my life to learn  to speak the Spanish language.

 As a High School  student taking spansh all I remember is being in the girls bathroom one day  when two Hispanic girls came in. I watched them through the slit of my cubicle door as they walked to the mirror and applied their lipstick, speaking spanish to each other. To me it sounded like vica pica pica over and over and over-but rapidly. And I sat on the toilet moving my lips and rocking my head from side to side, silently mocking the noise coming out of their mouths. I remember that moment with embarrassment now.But I was about fourteen at the time, if that matters. Still all these years later not just spanish but all languages sound like some version of vica pica pica to me.


          Over the course of twenty plus years I  tried again and again to learn Spanish. I tried in college, then at the local International Institute and  finally as a nonmatriculating student at a community college. I bought all the books and tapes but could never get beyond the first month. So I took it for granted that I was one of those people that just can't learn a foreign language, and I gave up.

       Connections present themselves suddenly, opening up  another part of the universe  to you. I was flipping  through the cable channels  a couple of days ago when I saw RAN. RAN is a period piece about the feudal system in Japan with english subtitles.

       I watched the movie and read the words at the bottom of the screen. I got the jist of what was going on quickly. And I noticed that I almost didn't hear the Japanese the characters were speaking-  I saw the words which made the activities mean something to me. I turned the TV off and sat on the couch motionless for several minutes. Epiphany-Foreign words do not make pictures in my head -because I don't know what they mean.

       I am an artist. All my thoughts are visual. When someone tells me a new phone number-I tell them just a minute after the third or fourth number because I actually have to see the number in my head to write it down. I have lived my whole life and never put it together until a few days ago: I can't make pictures with foreign words and so cannot get beyond the rudiments of a spanish grammer class. I'm not fourteen years old anymore I don't mock what is different. I understand that foreign languages are real words, with meanings and nuances that for me will forever remain a mystery.

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The Pencil Drawings by Iris M. Kirkwood

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3158 Main St., Buffalo NY