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This instructor, Junkins was his last name, he just recognized the dynamic—how much of it was in my work, and my intuition—and a year or so later I came across this book and saw that you can purposely do this. It was an epiphany. We went to West Oaks Square quite often, and there was a bookstore there. Two books [there] were out of place: The Painter’s Secret Geometry and Jung’s Symbols of Transformation. Those two books were really prominent in the formulation of my [work]and they were [found] in the same night.

TSU ID. Courtesy of the artist.

Recurring themes

My work deals with the metamorphosis of ideas as well as objects. The idea[s] of birth, death, rebirth or resurrection…these elements I use really reflect from the standpoint of my religious upbringing. Basically I was looking at themes that dealt with the idea of immortality, the transitory [nature]of life, the idea of growth…the butterfly, the cocoon, the fish…all these are images that deal with the advent of a God that sacrifices his godliness to bring about salvation to humanity. And this idea of rebirth, you know, redemption…that especially.

I was never an exceptional artist, even when I got to college. We had people [at TSU] that would make me feel very embarrassed. I mean I struggled. My work is a long, long struggle. Dealing with larger purposes you [have]a larger responsibility. Talent to me was a mechanical thing that was learned, but [there] you had students that were just…it was embarrassing. I would bring work in and I’d be almost in tears, you know. It was a highly competitive thing because it was [about]ideas. Dr. Biggers had his reputation and his status in the art community was built on his ’58 trip [to Africa]. It was overwhelming. We saw him work. We saw the results of his work. His drawing especially. I mean, it was just depressing to see things like that and you’re not able to do them.

I was not old enough to have the connections he had with the old African American experience, so it would be a surface aspect for me to deal with the image of African art and what Dr. Biggers was doing. As a matter of intellectual honesty as well as cultural honesty I could never feel comfortable [with that], and never did. I don’t think I ever did an African theme.

From right to left: Kermit Oliver, Herb Mears, Ronnie Avery and Ava Jean Mears at DuBose Gallery, Houston, c. 1969-70. Courtesy of the artist.

Commercial art

When I was going to work I rode a bicycle several miles to a framing shop, and there were a lot of galleries [along] Westheimer that I would stop in and look at. Robinson, David, Meredith Long and DuBose I would go too, and each week I would make one trip to the Museum. [This was]1970, right at ’70, and it was a different experience because everyone was doing art, it seemed. The Art League of Houston—I would always go there and they were at another location. I think it was South Main, near the Contemporary Arts Museum, the old Contemporary Arts Museum. I was always looking at art at the University of St. Thomas; they had a lot of lectures. It was like being inspired or motivated because we were isolated. We were reclusive. But we could go into those places in an anonymous situation. Once a month we would stand out for about an hour before we were dragged into the galleries, but that was our own social hour.

I had been showing with Diane Smith I think a year and had a one-man show, and then Dr. Biggers asked me about going to commercial galleries. [I went with DuBose] in ’69 because my first show was in ’70 if I’m not mistaken. Ben was a person who placed great value in collecting…that was what makes art communities grow. He began to collect young artists and then let them grow. Some were recognized as some of the leading artists that were in the city and that was the compliment I had; it was also the intimidating aspect of being in that gallery.

You see, when you’re isolated you’re in a very small environment. It was exciting because you were seeing things—you could see what was beginning in terms of what was going on. There was a vitality, I think…and you were part of it, but not part of it.

Kermit Oliver was interviewed on June 29, 2006. You can listen to the interview here .

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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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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