Family is everything
My story begins with encouraging and creative parents. As the fifth child of a family of eight, our home was full of activity; sibling disputes, family events, trips, and passion to learn. I grew up in Northern Indiana, surrounded by Lake Michigan, Chicago museums, parks, and a large active family. Each of us was encouraged to be an individual and we followed our passion. Mine was easy as I was inspired by both of my parents. My mother was not formally trained in Art. She filled our home with murals, paintings, and repurposed furniture. We were one of the only families in our neighborhood to have flocked wallpaper or unique furniture and decorated rooms. We were not wealthy but comfortable with a loving home, well-fed, and encouraged to perform to the best of our ability in school. My father hoped to become an architect, he attended some higher education classes but due to cost and family obligations had to drop out of classes. This did not deter him from building additions to our home, adding custom masonry, and a speaker system for our family room. I found out in the last few years that he was sent to a school for Colored boys, four hours from his home and family. This was at a time that schools were not allowed to educate Negro boys after elementary school. He graduated as the Valedictorian at age 16. He never spoke about this experience.
My role models
I considered myself an artist when I selected groceries to paint on the living room wall at the age of 5 or 6. My parents were not pleased, that's a story for another day. My first happy memories of creating art of helping my mother, and to create decorations for church events, school craft projects, painting walls (with real paint) in our home, and going on trips to find wallpaper and furniture to refinish. I also helped my father with preparing cement for bricks and I even sat on rooftops as he "installed television antennas" (google if needed) as an entrepreneur along with his fulltime job. He was a true Renaissance man that in my eyes could do anything. Providing for a family of eight required true creative thinking, we had all the important things that matter; love, comfort, support, sustenance, and emotional support
Needless to say, I was Born to Design, with such creative parents. As I think back, they were preparing me for the future. To be able to self-sufficient and always challenging me to learn and do more. Design is challenging in many ways. It was not until I entered college that I truly related to the term minority. I was one of two Black students in my Freshman Art classes at Indiana University. It did not change much in my four years. It has not changed much since those many years ago. The current percentage of POC in the Arts is 2-3 percent. I was even told by my college advisor that my chances of succeeding in the Art world were minimal. I never went back to his office. This motivated me to go to classes, do the work, and keep moving forward. I graduated determined to make my way as necessary.