Oh shit I didn't go to art school

No, I didn't go to art school. No, I didn't take many classes. My mom definitely supported me making art when I was a kid, and I think if she hadn't had so many responsibilities for other people (and hadn't been swayed by the 80s backlash against feminism) she would have called herself an artist.


Family photo from the late 80s, white woman in her 30s with big tortoiseshell glasses and permed honey blonde hair, with two young girls on other side of her. They are sitting on a bench and the older one on the right is giving her bunny ears.
Me on the left, my sister on the right. Wild to think my mom is younger there than I am now. Also that my sister's outfit has come back into style several times.


I grew up in small town-- Marks, Mississippi is my hometown, in that that's where they brought me home from the hospital. I lived there for the first 7 years of my life, avoided drowning in the river in my backyard, lived through the 1990 flood from the river in my backyard, falling through the shitty bleachers at the football field, somehow wasn't brainwashed by forced bible lectures at the private school. The 1980 census (I was born late 1982) counted less than 2,300 people in that town. Imagine!


Imagine my opportunities for art education. We did still have art in schools, but I was less than 8 years old so I can't testify to the breadth of the education. I don't think I visited an art museum until we went to Washington DC in 1989 or so. Then it would be a few more years before I did that again. Once we moved to Brookhaven, MS (a CITY with a WALMART, population 10K in 1990) I remember my art classes in public school better, and really loved them. My parents enrolled me in a sculpture class. It was only a few weeks, and my dad ridiculed the abstract pieces I brought home. He was one of those Silent Dads of my generation, except when he could make fun of something. I made fun of it too, since my dad was talking to me. It was a chance at conversation.


Father and daughter, daughter resting her head on her dad's while he sits in an armchair showing his birthday cake.
Me, my dad Mike, and some Mike-approved artwork.


Once I got to junior high (two moves later, into the low-mountain city of Harrison, Arkansas, population back down below 10K, but still had a Wal-Mart and a quasi-mall) I was on to poetry. Writing poems, songs, plays and veryshortstories was my life from ages 13 to 22. I did very little visual art, mostly creepy acrylic paintings on cardboard boxes to further alienate my parents. No art classes after Jr High- I was busy with marching band and Drama. Then I'd go off to college to become a writer? teacher? poet? I have the degree but I am still not sure.


Author as a 17 year old on stage with a guitar. Black and white photo.
Author as a 17 year old on stage with a guitar. I cringe thinking that I debuted a song about an ex boyfriend incredibly shortly after the breakup, knowing he was in the audience. Sorry John.


Ok, so I didn't know I was here to write my life history, but that's part 1. Maybe I'll share a few poems from the before times. Luckily, very few people had cameras or video back when I was playing guitar, so there's not a lot of embarrassing evidence of that period of my life.


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