I have black leather motorcycle jacket that I rarely wear. No, I don’t, and never have had, a motorcycle. The jacket is a relic of my 1990s crewcut-tattoo-metal phase. Which isn’t to say I don’t still relish each of those elements, but about the time I hit 40, wearing the jacket, which looks pretty much like this one, started to seem, well, unseemly, and not in a cool way. More like in a middle-aged, slightly jowly, spinster English teacher in a black leather jacket way. So I put the jacket away.
During grad school, I sometimes fantasized about having the jacket painted, adding a design that would re-irony-ize my wearing of it. For a while, I thought of having some Day-of-the-Dead skeleton art added. Then I thought about some sort of scary-empowering female mythological image, like the morrigan or the fates or a gorgon. Then when I started knitting, I found some nifty knitting-themed, motorcycle-gang tattoo type art and thought I might like something similar.
But I did none of these things to my leather jacket because having a leather jacket painted costs A LOT of money (as it should — it’s art and skill combined) and I did not have lots of money and furthermore, it’s not like I needed a painted leather jacket. And then I became a Quaker, and I really, really didn’t need an expensive, painted leather jacket. Not plain, not necessary, too fashion-focused and just generally not a spiritually sound idea. And there the issue sat, or rather hung in my hall closet, until this spring.
One of my students here at BVU is a phenomenal artist. Well, many of them are excellent artists, but this particular student started taking commissions and handing out business cards to faculty/staff and students. And, she’s taken two creative writing classes with me and has a similar taste for slightly morbid wackiness. And, while she had never painted a leather jacket, she was willing to research techniques and supplies, work with me on art, and do the work for a fraction of the price that professionals charge. So I get my jacket (and it’s SO COOL — I’ve seen several steps completed) and she gets a new skill and pics for her artist portfolio and an enthusiastic customer wearing a REALLY NEAT jacket and handing out her business cards. And as for Quakerly values, what’s better than using my time and money and leather to help a student/artist grow?*
And so where are the images of this masterpiece, in anticipation of which you’ve read this far? Well, I should have the jacket in hand on Friday or Monday, so pics soon. Oh, and I drew up the concept (in stick figures — the artist improved it about a bazillion percent) and it incorporates every single idea listed in paragraph two.
*Imagine me looking saintly and not stroking my leather jacket.**
**and, all silliness aside, I had her write a contract and gave her advice
that will help her in future contract negotiations for her work