Maria Matienzo Puerto
The magic of writing now allows me to become a student in the arts department of one of the typical universities in my country. Given that, I made an effort to arrive on time to the first session, although to tell the truth, it’s not my priority.
The class that interests me most is the one that begins in mid-morning. I don’t know what it’s going to be about, because it’s the first day, but since it has to do with graphic design, I harbor some illusions about it.
Since it’s a professor with a lot of experience, I imagine that not only am I going to learn about nearly one hundred years of design, but also that creativity will be the order of the day during each class period.
Now the time has just about arrived.
I’m the first to enter. My classmates soon arrive and there is a buzz of conversation, something very normal because we’re all very young and we all have the same expectations. The professor, quite serious, states what according to him is going to be the cornerstone of the entire course: “Here, no one knows more than I do.”
We look at each other in general disconcertion. But I believe I understand him; what I have neglected to mention here is that I’m a teaching assistant so I’ve been in front of the class too and at times you have to assert yourself in some way. And his affirmation may well be true, since he has won many prizes. His knowledge of the subject must embrace worlds.
The semester is divided into three fundamental units: an overview of Cuban design, the history of graphic art, and computerized design.
Now some time has passed and we’re almost finished with this school year. So how was it? What have I learned? Well, okay, it seems that graphic design on the island began a mere fifty years ago, although to my profound perplexity I’ve had to consult newspapers from the thirties while doing research for other subjects and I found advertisements for soap, makeup, night clubs, movie theaters, restaurants and shops.
Not only that, I read the information I was seeking on well laid-out pages with a distribution of titles and blocks of text to keep the reader from getting lost. (I don’t know, it seems that my teacher gets too partial when trying to teach history.)
From the second part of the course I learned that there is no other designer in the world besides him and that, despite the fact that there are universal tenets that guide graphics, his criteria are transcendent. Of course, during my stint in his class I also discovered that his awards were mainly the result of his work as a party activist.
I didn’t have the good luck that others had, to be assigned to the professor across the hall from us, who had fewer distinctions and more knowledge.
As far as creativity is concerned, you can imagine! If I dared think that a flower could be blue with a red stem, he might question my presence in class. And not because I’m crazy or want to seem clever, but because I can’t (or shouldn’t) think differently.