The view from my head. This series of drawings was fundamental for my development as an artist. They were done in life drawing life class when I was still a student. For the first time I began to be able to draw, make art, in relation to something other than the reproduction of what I saw. I began to try to draw the whole situation. By which I mean, in this case, that I started to try to draw things that I could not see, but could feel, and, further, things that I could neither see nor feel but that I knew to be there. In a concrete sense this meant that I tried to draw the perceived size of my head in relation to what I was looking at or the size of my field of vision in relation to the room I was standing in. Or I tried to draw the position of my feet on the floor and their distance from my head and both of their relations to my view of the room or the model.
I can directly trace much of my later work to these drawings. For example, the monologues “Shaken” and “What a black man feels like”, with their solipsistic self-analysis and dogged tracking of how one idea is connected to another, have their origin in these drawings.

Tom Johnson

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