貧困女孩的藝術夢

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2010 / 1月

文‧郭麗娟



仁愛國中一年級時,劉秀美遇到一位很特殊的美術老師──油畫家席慕容。家境富裕的席慕容,每天坐著三輪車從淡水到台北東區上班,還載來滿車的100號油畫布和顏料,跳級教學生油畫,並利用星期天免費教學。

當時學校美術比賽第一名的劉秀美當然想參加,但因為沒錢買顏料不敢開口,「或許席老師以為我是驕傲才不來上課吧。」

但其實她還是偷偷上了──整整一學期,每個星期天她都提早到校,然後用腳勾住4樓樓頂光溜溜的女兒牆,「倒掛著」偷看3樓教室裡的席老師教畫,等下課同學都走了再悄悄溜下來。回家後她把頭髮剪下,綁在已光禿的毛筆桿上,以未稀釋的王樣水彩充當油畫顏料練習。

問她,為什麼喜歡繪畫?「因為畫畫便宜啊!」劉秀美笑說,她也喜歡芭蕾舞,跟著有錢的大阿姨在中山北路租屋時,她常躲在蔡瑞月舞蹈教室外偷看日籍男老師教舞。年幼懵懂的她,根本不知道芭蕾的曼妙舞姿是靠著舞鞋裡的木墊「撐」起來的,她不死心的赤腳站立、旋轉,重心不穩往後栽倒是小事,長時間忍痛練下來,她的腳趾已成畸形。

她還曾愛戀更昂貴的鋼琴,自己刻木頭當琴鍵,但沈默的木頭讓她悵然放棄。她也曾站在書店中看完整套日文童書。看過她的圖文集《淡水味覺》的人,都會為她充滿詩意的文字叫好,她則說自己最想過的,就是一種「藝術的人生」、「文學的人生」,隔著藝術的距離透視人生,再大再重的苦難,也變美了。 

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EN

A Poor Girl's Dreams of Art

Kuo Li-chuan /tr. by Scott Williams


Liu Siu-mei had a very special art teacher in her first year at Jen Ai Junior High School-oil painter Hsi Muren. Hsi, who was quite wealthy, used to take a bicycle taxi from her home in Danshui to the school in eastern Taipei every day, often filling it with canvas and paint for her students. Hsi not only introduced them to oil painting at an early age, she even held free classes for them on Sundays.

Liu, who had placed first in the school's fine arts competition, would have liked to attend, but had no money for materials and didn't dare say so. "Ms. Hsi may have thought I was too arrogant to attend her class."

The truth was quite different. She became a stealth student who for a whole semester hurried to school early on Sunday so she could climb to the fourth floor and watch-hanging upside down with her feet hooked over the parapet-as Ms. Hsi taught painting in her third-floor classroom. When class had finished and the other students gone, she'd quietly let herself down again and head home, where she'd cut a bit of hair, bind it to the bare handle of calligraphy brush, and practice what she'd seen using thick, undiluted Osama watercolors instead of oils.

Asked why she loves painting, Liu laughs and says, "Because painting is cheap!" She also enjoys ballet. Many years ago, when a wealthy aunt rented a place on Zhongshan North Road, Liu used to secrete herself outside Tsai Jui-yueh's dance studio to watch a male Japanese dancer teach class. Young and ignorant about ballet, she had no idea that many of the beautiful poses required the support of the hardened enclosure in the toe of pointe shoes. Determined to learn, she held her poses and spun in bare feet, completely unconcerned about losing her balance and going over backwards. But the long hours of practicing through the pain ultimately left her with deformed toes.

Liu also had a passion for an even more highbrow pursuit-playing the piano. Though she carved herself a set of wooden keys to practice on, she couldn't bear their wooden silence and ultimately gave it up. Liu also has literary talent. Everyone who has read Liu's The Lives along the Tamshui River, a collection of her writings and illustrations, praises her poetic prose. She herself says that her greatest ambition is to live an "artistic and literary life." Viewed from an aesthetic distance, even life's most bitter moments can be beautiful.

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