A Personal Art Education History
My undergraduate work started at Los Angeles Pierce College. It was my gateway into a life of art. It was at that school that I met a man of about 80 years old in a life drawing class. He was quiet, and like most of us in the class drew with an unsure hand, but when he turned in his final project it was so powerful that I still remember its influence over me to this day. He drew on his experiences as a Holocaust survivor and created a series of small but forceful sketches; they were powerful. I can only imagine the images that were fixed inside him waiting until he knew how to draw a figure well enough to his liking to free them. It was at that moment I knew I had stumbled onto something meaningful, and I wanted to learn more.
A few months later I began my undergraduate degree at Art Center College of Design. There I learned the art of presentation, that details make a difference, and understanding my audience is key. I uncovered my own motivations for why I create—it was not to get a job, work for a big company, make things for the sake of it, but to refine my professional, creative, intellectual, and personal growth.
At Art Center the formidable Burne Hogarth was a big influence early on. He was bold, brash, loud, and unapologetic. He was intimidating. He could draw mirror images of an anatomically correct figure with both hands at once. He seemed untouchable in his skill, but certainly someone to aspire to. Dwight Harmon, another great instructor, was kind and gentle with a quick wit. He instilled in me a love of materials and experimentation, and helped me embrace my mistakes. Through him I found it liberating to play with different elements and media and try new ideas and not think too long or too hard about any of it. Richard Bunkall, a quiet and skilled teacher, had a profound effect on me. He was a master painter; his personal art was a true window straight to his inner being. He was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and died shortly after I graduated. The central theme to his work was understanding “self” in relation to his journey and experience. It was under his tutelage that I realized it would be ok to bare my soul through my work.
Two more educators would impact me at Art Center. First is Art Historian Kamila Alleyn. She reminded me of my love for history. Her passion and her stories, both of personal travel and of her vast knowledge of art history were infectious. It was easy to love the history of art in her presence. The second instructor was the force that is Lynda Weinman. Her newly minted computer lab at Art Center would plant a technology seed in me and would grow to become significant in my fledgling career as an artist.
Probably the greatest influence for me at Art Center was Franklyn Liegel, a mixed media artist. He lived and breathed art and teaching. His enthusiasm for all things art was infectious. A great teacher, he wouldn’t tell his students what to do, but would guide them with gentle suggestions opening his students eyes to the possibilities their ideas contained. The journey he took his students on was always transformative. Liegel reflected, "My fear is that there will be an egg that never hatches […] I am given the students, and I must teach them. I care greatly, and I want to give my students the confidence to go out into the art world. There are dream-takers and dream-makers, and I ask myself when I'm in the classroom, 'which am I'? I don't want to contribute to that egg that didn't hatch." Such a great declaration; he sincerely felt the great responsibility that teaching is, and someone I aspire to. These artists and teachers and many others who speak from the heart, and who bare their soul, unapologetically, affect me.
Beyond college, I’ve worked with some of the most brilliant creative, technical minds, amazing artists and the newest technology. Usually working as a part of a team, collaborating, creating, and problem solving with a common goal in mind. It’s been a place, time, and feeling of gratification on a personal, social, professional, creative and intellectual level. If Art Center gave me a great foundation in the arts, my career gave me a sense of integration and a safe path with which to travel.
Going forward in my future I will plant seeds, be bold, passionate, sincere, bare my soul, collaborate, problem solve, and contribute to those young, “hatching eggs” so we may all be future makers working for a common cause.