I've been joyfully engaged with art throughout my life. As a little boy I was mesmerized by new coloring books and crayons I'd receive for my birthdays. In my grade school years I saved allowances to buy Walter T. Foster how-to-draw books: clowns, horses, animals, $1.25 each at the time. Through nuns' version of teaching art at Holy Trinity School in Westmont, Illinois, on Friday afternoons I made drawings exactingly copied from pages of coloring books, with no instruction, frustration, but eventually routine success. In my teenage years as a seminarian with the Servites, I was encouraged and inspired by Margaret Dagenais who taught the making ceramic figurative objects, mosaics, banners, and other liturgical art.
During two years as a monk living in a monastery in Benburb, Ireland, I made collages of paper painted with gouache and drawn over with India ink. George Rouault was my favorite artist at the time. With a 12 pence we received for semi-annual daytrips to Dublin, I bought small booklets of art by modern masters and after two years had a collection of about twenty that I recently gave to my granddaughter Emma.
As a monk I studied the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, and others. Although willingly living a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and chanting Psalms in Latin intermittently throughout the day from early morning till late evening, I became more persuaded by atheists than theists and adopted agnosticism but remained a monk and still cherish that quiet way of being. In my junior year in Webster College I completed art and philosophy majors, met women, and left monastic life and Catholicism. I happened to graduate during the buildup of the Vietnam War to which I was opposed. A means of avoiding the draft opened: teaching high school art in an all-black inner city school in St. Louis during the black power movement. I supported civil rights but was a scared white kid who had grown up in small town America.
After about four years of high school work, I accepted an entry-level faculty position at The Ohio State University, pursued the study of art, art criticism, and aesthetics earning MA and a PhD degrees. I enjoyed a forty-year career in the Department of Art Education with a joint appointment in the Department of Art, departing as Professor Emeritus in 2009, for a final five-year teaching stint at the University of North Texas. I continue to write books and make art, with the loving encouragement of Susan Michael Barrett and our nine grandchildren.
Bradenton, Florida, 2017