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Interview with Leila McConnell, conducted by Sarah C. Reynolds.

Always an artist

When I was a senior in high school I went to the Museum of Fine Arts and took Robert Joy’s class. I was 16 years old and very silly—going to teas and coffees every Saturday—so I don’t really remember my experience with him, but I did take his class. Anything I wanted to do—sewing, whatever—my mother would see that I had the supplies to do it. People ask, “When did you start [painting]?” and I say, “I never did start. I just always took it.” I guess I’ve never thought of myself as anything else [but an artist]. There’s a point when you’re in school and studying and everything—you know, sometimes people are perpetual students—and they’ve never decided that they are an artist or a painter and somehow or another it has to click in your head that you’re through with school and you know what you’re doing—that you’re not dependent on anybody else for what you do. I think I always had it!

We came to Houston when I was six, and I was at Montrose Elementary School in the first grade. We had done some watercolor paintings on old yellow paper—all sort of pink and blue—and the teacher put them up on the blackboard. Then one day she was pointing out something and she pointed to one of them, which was mine, and said it was somebody else’s. And I said, “No—it’s mine.” She said no. It was the first time that I had ever encountered injustice. And I am still painting what I call sky paintings, so I don’t know if that’s related or not, but I think it may be.

I never really liked anybody who painted on my paintings or touched them, and Frances Skinner (at the Museum school) would work on people’s paintings, just to show them what the painting needed or something; a few strokes or something like that. But I never wanted anybody to do that to my painting. It was mine. I certainly wondered what I would do if she tried it with me, and she never did.

Blue painting

By Leila McConnell, 1961. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

Student days

I studied architecture at Rice. I would have studied art if they had had an art department, but I studied architecture and never regretted it because I thought it was a really good background for art also. And Mr. [James] Chillman was my greatest influence. He taught freehand drawing where you draw with charcoal and you’re looking at plaster casts—what you’re doing is you’re learning to see realistically. And I remember one day crying because it was so hard, and you know, he could be very kind but he was the professor. He was a friend in a way, but he was [also]the teacher. Then I had art history, architecture history, watercolors, design and freehand drawing, all from Mr. Chillman. I consider him the greatest influence on me as far as taste and design sense—things like that. He was half the time at Rice and half the time as head of the Museum.

I graduated in ’48-’49, a B.A. then a B.S. in architecture. And I had taken a year off in 1946, just because it was so intense, you know. My background at Rice was very realistic and I could paint anything I could see, so that’s the way I started out. In 1949 I visited the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the summer term. I had planned to go to Stanford, and when I got out there I thought, “This looks just like what I’ve been doing at the Museum—the work I saw there.” So then I visited the California School of Fine Arts and boy—it was built around a courtyard—and they were having a student show and the paintings that I saw there were abstract, and I thought, “This is where I need to be.” All the famous California painters and teachers were there. Mark Rothko came out for the summer term and I painted some apples—a white background and green and red apples—and he said, “Why don’t you do another painting and abstract that?” I said, “What do you mean?” And he said, “Well, do flat patterns of color.” So that’s what I did. I did another painting, and I’ve still got those two paintings. That experience of just those couple of months was what I wanted and needed to shake me up a little bit.

Questions & Answers

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.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
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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