"My son the artist"

As I was writing Spark and looking through the Studio 360 archive for stories about childhood, I found that some people knew from an incredibly early age that they would become artists.  The sculptor Richard Serra is one of those – although it was actually his mother who decided that he was destined to be an artist.  Here’s what he had to say about it: “I don’t know if you know anything about Jewish mothers, but they’re very important. And she was very insistent right away – in the third grade a teacher pulled her into class and they had all of my drawings up around the room. She called my mother in and pointed it out and said you should take this child to museums to encourage what he’s already doing. So my mother totally got onto the program and started taking me to museums very early and started introducing me as “Richard the Artist.”

Serra’s mom called Serra's brother “the lawyer” when he was growing up and he became a quite famous lawyer.  It is interesting to hear how one artist’s mother knew before anyone else that her child would become someone who could shape the way we see the world.  Now, as a mom myself I know that I can’t shape my sons’ entire future – nor would I want to -- but I do catch myself saying one is “my science kid” and the other is “my writer.”  Will that have an impact on their future?

You can hear Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Richard Ford and Mira Nair talk about childhood this weekend on Studio 360 when I speak with host Kurt Andersen about Spark

Did you know who you would become when you were small?  Did your parents?  I'd love to hear your story about the moment you knew what you wanted to do.

Photo by GlennFleishman