When I was three my mother, who worked full time at home as a fashion designer and dressmaker, permitted me to crawl under the big worktables and pick up fallen pins. That was the beginning of my learning to make the best of a found situation. She also taught me to sew. In the process I developed very early in life the best pincer grasp possible. Consequently
I soon graduated to tracing dressmaking patterns and copying the then fashionable monograms. Since the book with the monograms also had the entire alphabet, plus the combinations of consonants and vowels, I was a fluent reader by the time I was four. Not precocious just lucky for the opportunity.
My brother went to a boarding school after my parents’ divorce so I was raised as a single child. To pass time I did a lot of drawing and reading. Early on I learned to be with myself,
a true gift for a solitary studio artist.
I loved to listen to stories and imagined their three dimensional illustrations in my head. It was no surprise then that the classes I liked the best were those where I could illustrate the information given by the teacher. In geography classes I could make fabulous maps; in natural sciences, I could do the closest thing to medical illustrations. As for instance:
As a nice middle class girl I was expected to play some musical instrument and so piano lessons came into my life. After a few years of that I convinced my parents that I would do better learning to play the accordion. That lasted an even shorter period of time because I got fascinated with learning to do bookbinding with a teacher who herself had been a student of the best French bookbinders.
With Maria Goldring I learned not only to sew a book, but to curve its back, to attach hard covers, to cover these in leather, to incise a design on the cover, to imbed pieces of different colored leathers, to gold leaf the covers, to guild the top of the leaves, to sew a special dust guard between the book and its cover and to design and create those dust covers.
I believe as I learned process I also learned diligence for the sake of a desired end product.
A couple of years into that I wanted to set up my own shop and so at fifteen I sold my accordion to get the necessary funds to buy the presses, sewing frames, tools needed.
Two years after that I was enrolled in the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That was a school that followed the Beaux Arts curriculum. There, day in and day out,
I did nothing but charcoal drawings of plaster casts of classical sculpture.
In my second year I was given a trip to New York. The city was a true visual candy store where I could stand in front of fantastic art which I had previously only experienced through book illustrations. Soon I found myself enrolled at the Art Students League. There I could draw and paint from live models and in bright colors. My artistic life was never the same after that.
In order to extend my student visa, I applied to a BFA program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. My drawings of Central Park, then my home town, got me in. The world of interior design and small structures, furniture and graphic design, stage and costume design all opened up for me.
It took me decades though to find my preferred medium of artistic expression: textiles. Once I made that connection I never looked back. With every piece I create, I learn something new. My education is still going on.