My upbringing has strongly influenced on my artwork and character. Both of my parents are German immigrants; they were forced to leave the land their families had settled for hundreds of years during World War II. My parents came to the states with their families in the 1950s to start a new life.
My grandparents all worked with their hands—-a tailor on my father’s side and a blacksmith on my mother’s. Transplanted from their native culture to the suburbs of Chicago, the old and new world began to blend together. I was born the third of four children into a working class family. My father was a union painter and my mother stayed at home to raise us. Both my parents love to cook and take great pride in their flower and vegetable gardens. Nearly every meal was eaten together at home around the dinner table, featuring fresh vegetables or those we had canned.
We also made trips to neighboring states to pick seasonal fruits and vegetables. To this day, our family still goes through this tradition. The image below shows three generations of my family on a trip to pick sour cherries in Michigan. After picking, our collective attention is turned to the kitchen. Turning one hundred twenty pounds of sour cherries into jam is quite a bit of work; but the product that can be enjoyed all year is well worth the effort. The physicality of this time consuming process always has a way of bringing us together. Through experiences like this, my parents taught me the values of working with your hands and being self-sufficient.