As a kid in the early 60s, there was a blue carbon-copy page that would travel with my mom and I as we bounced from apartment to apartment and school to school; in a designation box was typed the word, “retarded.” Somewhere around 8th grade, I sat across a desk from a person with lots of diplomas on their wall, who proclaimed that I would never be able to pass high school. By the time I got to college, I was what was more politely called, “disabled” and by the time I was in graduate school, I was something of a walking chemistry experiment for doctors to play with. When I became a college professor, I found that my rocky and circuitous journey gave me insights and empathy that other faculty could never have. My adversities became my strength in working with and helping my students.
As a kid, one is perpetually trying to understand the world and their place in it. Now imagine trying to understand that world is a bit like being alone inside of a David Lynch movie; you are continually trying to grasp at anything that will give you grounding and trajectory…you know that you don’t fit in with the world and others around you, but you don’t know why. As one grows and matures, they develop strategies for how to deal with their social and developmental issues, but they don’t go away. In fact in my case, things got worse as I started sliding into my 50s. I had taught college for nearly 20 years, and headed and created design programs at renowned institutions from New York to Florida, but then the coping skills that I had built over a lifetime began to drop away and so I took that as an opportunity to take a hard left turn to retire early from academia and pursue/continue my own work.
Now, I find myself honored to be among the recipients of the Creative Pinellas 2022 Emerging Artist Grant. Through the sponsorship and mentoring of the program, I am going to be developing and expanding my own body of work and I am also going to be working on bringing the specialized skills and experiences that I gained as a college Art+Design professor to underserved communities and individuals. Yes, I am biting off a pretty big chunk, but I am confident that with the support of CreativePinellas, my mentor Rocky Bridges and our arts community at large, that this is going to be a successful and exciting year. I hope that you, dear reader, will follow along for my weekly blog posts to see how my efforts are advancing. I hope that readers will ask questions about my work, process and efforts, as well as offer their own insights and anecdotes.
Until next time,