When I was 14 years old, I took an art class with my best friend. For an assignment, we made paper-mache masks. Mine was an oblong, bold, blue face with bulging eyes, spiky hair, and brightly contrasting yellow details. I named it Fred-A-Stare. I had a lot of fun making it and my friend and I were quite silly throughout.
The artwork was noticed by my teacher (or, perhaps my joy in making it). In turn, he told me about an art school about to open in my home state of Minnesota. He advised me to talk to my art teacher the following year to learn more. This ultimately led to me attending the Perpich Center for Arts Education, then a nascent arts high school for 11th and 12th grade. I was among its second class of students.