Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Back in college I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class from a visiting professor/artist by the name of Faith Ringgold. The class was called something like Artists' Books and taught us how to make artistic expressions in the form of carefully crafted and original handmade books. Part of our class project was to create a book and then hold a fundraising event to pay for the publication of our book. Our fundraiser was a raffle where we got artists to donate work. I bought a raffle ticket and was SO fortunate to walk away with a Ringgold. That (in addition to marrying my husband, giving birth AND the Martha thing) was the single most luckiest moment in my life. To this day I can still remember how completely tickled I was to get it. This is it up there. Now it is properly framed and I have the wall behind it painted to accent it's placement. Looking at it today, it got me thinking...

Could this and the images of flying children in Faith's book, Tar Beach, be the source of inspiration for my own flying characters? People are always asking me how it came to be that I put a pair of wings on an elephant and I never really had an answer. But this painting has been staring me in the face for the past fourteen or so years - and I've always loved it - the thought of these children flying over the Brooklyn Bridge at night - just imagine! - it's always excited me.

I leave you with the image of her painting with quilted border, Tar Beach. I'll be honest, when I took that class, I had no idea who she was. All I knew was that the class description sounded fantastic. On that first day (with a studio overflowing with students who were eventually asked to leave because there was no more room on the wait list) she looked around at us behind her big, dark sunglasses and said, "I'm sure some of you have no idea Who. I. Am." Back then, there was no Google, so I high-tailed it to the library to look her up before our next class. I suddenly felt like a lottery winner because I was able to enroll in the class since I was a fourth-year student. (and I also felt a little guilty about that because people who knew who she was probably couldn't get in) I loved listening to her talk about her life as an artist - her sources of inspiration and her experimentation with different media. At that time I was an Art History major. Who would have known that all these years later I'd be painting my own flying characters and dipping into the practices of silk screening, gocco, sewing and woodworking? Who woulda thunk it?

P.S. Wonderful wonderful children's books, by the way. If you have kids, check these out.

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