Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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03/24/2004: "Funny art school story..."

Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of the Valdez oil spill which happened 6 months after I moved to Alaska on March 23,1989. It reminded me of a funny story (funny now, looking back at it but I did not find it funny at all at the time) from art school. In one of my very first painting classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage our instructor had us pose for our classmate's who wanted to include people in their paintings. We got to choose who we wanted to use, and then put them in whatever position we wanted, take a polaroid, and then later we could refer back to the polaroids to do our pieces. I used several people for my painting (as seen below with my friend Susanna posing in front of it) and several people used me in theirs.

desert_tea_sue (36k image)

Well, we all went off to work on our paintings as part of our homework and no one saw them again until we brought them back for our big group critique. Well, imagine my shock when one of the nontradional aged students in the class, a man in his 40s, brought in a MASSIVE sized painting of me, sort of twisting as I emerged from black water that went up to about mid thigh. My problem with the painting is that he painted me buck naked! It would have been one thing if he used the polaroid to paint a generic naked woman in that pose, but the face etc. was mine down to the smallest detail. Worse still was that it was a political statement against the oil spill and he was sending it to the governor's office and it went on to be in a couple shows and got publicity in the press.

I had a really hard time standing up for myself back then. If someone did that to me today without even telling me what they had planned or asking my permission, I'd demand them to at leaste change the face so that it didn't look like me. That relates to my topic of yesterday about "rights of publicity"...and in this case, slander or defamation of character might also be an issue, since I was portrayed in an untruthfull manner.