Early Drawings (1972, 1984)

The pieces from 1972 are representative of the training I received as a child from my mother, an art teacher in an inner city public school (see Sheila Macho’s interview in JMCP, 2004). She took her work seriously – one of her students even won a national art award. She felt any person, with enough attention, support, and formal training could become a major artist. She started with me at age 4 years, overseeing at least 3 to 4 sessions of 3 hours each, every week. Rendering instruction was loosely modeled from a technique apparently used in Europe, with the standard drill being to draw a still life for 10 seconds, wipe it away, and then draw it again for 20 seconds before wiping it away and continuing. One would incrementally increase the interval for drawing until one reached a 20-minute interval toward the end of the 3-hour drawing drill. My mom would then throw a cloth over the still life, and ask me to draw the scene on the basis of how the clothe folded over the objects in it. Similar approaches were involved with sittings she took me to with human models. Every two sessions of rendering was supplemented by a session regarding painting and other visual methods. Under this program, I could render, by age 10, humans and objects rapidly. My parents revered the abstract expressionists and modern European masters, but I felt a growing need to rebel against fine art. In 1980 I went to college in Chicago and became addicted to graffiti. I found the freedom allowed by graffiti exhilarating. Only in middle age have I gone back to academia in the form of being part of the Northwestern University Segel Design Institute.