March 3, 1985 . . it was on that fateful evening when the eighteen-year-long odyssey that is my life began. My father, Clas, who is from Sweden, and my mother, Kathe, who is from Brooklyn, decided to name me Erik. I’ve lived in Manhattan all my life and I currently attend The Dalton School. As a child, I thought that museums could only show certain artists—Picasso, van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Bonnard, for example. I’ve loved drawing and creating art for as long as I can remember, but I thought that only certain people could create “good” art. “Artists” were a select group of untouchables, demigods in a pantheon guarded by a chimera.
Then a couple of years ago my aunt gave me a book my cousin left at her house. It was Phoebe Hoban’s biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat. As I read the book and looked at the artist’s paintings, I felt as if I was finally becoming conscious of something that had been fermenting inside me. Basquiat seemed close, seemed real; he was passionate about life and art and most importantly he seemed human. Basquiat’s art reflected all of this in its uninhibited rawness. His unconventional paintings were full of text and crudely drawn images painted on refrigerator doors or on canvases with exposed stretcher beams. Basquiat was also in his late teens and twenties when he created these works. It is no coincidence that after falling in love with Basquiat, art started to consume my life. I began to realize my own love for painting, and took it seriously. Basquiat slew the chimera, and presented me with a real sense of what art can be. For Basquiat, it seemed as if art and life were one. I feel the same way.
Art is amazing, and the Youth Insights program has allowed me to become even more involved with it.