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Interview with Earlie Hudnall, Jr., conducted by Sarah C. Reynolds.

Arriving on a greyhound bus

In ’68 I came to study art at Texas Southern University, and I actually rode a Greyhound bus from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to downtown Houston. I took a cab to the campus, to 3201 Wheeler. When I got out of the cab I was carrying my Marine Corps duffel bag and the guys said, “Hey man, let’s not mess with this joker right here.” That was my introduction to Texas. I guess you could say that the first ground I actually stepped on in Texas was at Texas Southern—because you know, stepping off the Greyhound bus and then catching a cab you’re still on concrete, but the actual ground I [first] touched was Texas Southern University.

A friend of mine [from high school] who lived in Hattiesburg was home on academic probation. Dr. Freeman, the debate coach at TSU at the time, was the assistant dean to the College of Arts and Sciences, and students whose grades were not up to par were expelled or sent home on academic probation for the semester. I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps in January, so it was too late for me to enroll in college at that particular time. I had applied to go to the University of Southern Mississippi and to Southern University in Baton Rouge and I had been accepted, but following a visit to [this friend’s]house his mother encouraged me, “Why don’t you go to Texas?” And he said, “Yeah, man—Texas Southern has a good art department.”

And so I did. I filled out an application, was accepted, caught the Greyhound bus and came to Texas. This is how I ended up at TSU. Building and making things was something that came very naturally…and something that I enjoyed doing. So art became a natural kind of phenomenon with me. It was a way of expressing myself and a way of using excess energy.

My first teacher [at TSU] was Kermit Oliver.

Kermit Oliver, b. 1943. Born in Refugio, Texas, he began studying art at Texas Southern University in 1960. He received a BFA and teaching degree from TSU in 1967, and painted and taught in Houston until 1984, when he moved with his family to Waco, Texas.
I can remember after enrolling in the art department Dr. Biggers spoke to all of the freshman students, and the statement that he made is “art is life.” He said one must draw upon his experiences from family, community and life—the things he has experienced. We had to write about our families, where we was from, for him to get an idea as to who we were and what we was all about.

Ready to wear

1971. Photo by Earlie Hudnall. Courtesy of Earlie Hudnall.

Images of life

My father was an amateur photographer and my grandmother kept a photo album of his photographs while he was in the military service, and on…Sunday, sometimes on special holidays…special occasions, he would make pictures of us, my brother and sisters and I. My grandmother would sit on the porch during the summer and show it to us, back in Hattiesburg.

In high school our physics instructor was teaching us about chemistry and physics, showing us the difference between chemical change and physical change. One example that he used [for chemical change] was to show negatives, because most people took them to the drugstore to have them developed. But he took the negatives into a darkroom with a light box, dropped them into the developer and then magic came forth. At that time the seed was planted…of a boy wanting to be like his father, and the instructor planting the seed of the experiment, of actually seeing an image come to life.

Questions & Answers

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An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years?
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lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x)
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A soccer field is a rectangle 130 meters wide and 110 meters long. The coach asks players to run from one corner to the other corner diagonally across. What is that distance, to the nearest tenths place.
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Source:  OpenStax, Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10526/1.2
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