About 1966, taken by Vivian Wiliams
Vivian Williams, of Coshocton Ohio, was my very first art teacher, in 1965 and 1966. I suppose her long-term influence would be obvious to anyone looking at my life. I think that a large part of where I ended up is her influence.
What I had not known until I was a teenager living in Chicago was that one of the reasons my parents decided to send me to art lessons because Vivian Williams was black-and because my father was an artist and knew her well. It was a conscious decision on their part to expose me to people of other races. Look at the date under the photograph and consider what was happening in this country.
We moved away from Coshocton in the late 60s. I went back there once in the early 80s to show Nancy one of the places from my childhood. It was a short trip, and I failed to find Vivian. Vivian Williams Saunders died at age 86 on June 6, 1998. I would have liked to be able to thank her.
If there is a point here beyond simply a bit of my own personal history it is that we too often miss the opportunity to thank the ones who most direct our lives. In our defense of course is the fact that life becomes quickly complicated, and we often don't know at the time how influential someone may be. Still, when we do at last understand, we ought to make a serious effort to let them know.
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008