There is no soft way to say you’re locked up for first degree murder. That you’ve killed someone in your lifetime for reasons you were taught was just but really frivolous in the scheme of things. I would have never said any of this, not even two years ago, but things change and I was wrong. Wrong in the way I was living and wrong in what I have done. Wrong in the choices I’ve made in life even when little choice was involved. I’ve learned that there is a better way, better choices to be made. Me being a product of my environment is an excuse we use a lot. A saying that I inherited from others which really is a bullshit excuse for some of the things we do. An excuse that I will no longer use.
People ask me a lot how art has shaped me? How has it changed my life? My answer will always be vague like, ” It has opened my eyes and made me see the light,” or something like that. Though really its way more in depth than that. With me the answer is two fold, at first for me art was destructive then second it became constructive. If you read my first blog then you see how it became constructive. Now the time is here to tell you how it became destructive.
I was born in Richmond, VA but we are from Petersburg, VA. My mother married a guy that served in the military from Philly which landed us in Germany for a few years. I loved Germany when I was there, one of my favorite places in the world. I use to know how to speak it a little but now all I can do is count a little and call somebody a shithead. I guess curse words are the one thing you remember in any language.
Okay, let’s get back on track. After we left Germany my mother didn’t want to go back to Petersburg. And I’m guessing my stepfather didn’t want to go back to Philly so we settled in Tennessee.
Allow me to give you a brief overview of my upbringing. We didn’t have much but we never went hungry and always had a roof over our heads. It wasn’t looked at back then the way it is now but we used to get beatings. Leather belts, switches, you get the idea. Really no explaining why what you did was wrong, if ma thought it was wrong you was getting got. It’s funny how you can look back and picture your little self jumping around trying to get away. Holding your little hand over your butt hoping to block the lashes while screaming, ” I’m sorry I won’t do it again!” with tears streaming down your face and now laugh about it. As I think about it I can see my little face balled up in anger after the beatings was done and she left the room. Really trying to figure out how and why whatever I did warranted this. Now don’t get me wrong my mother isn’t a bad person. She like most of us do as they’ve experienced without even realizing it and reject what they don’t understand. I love her and always will.
Now that you have a brief overview we can get to the crux of how my first real experience with art became destructive. I use to like school, never really had a problem with figuring things out. I just didn’t care much for history class, but really who does. In Clarksville where I lived there were gangs and most of my friends joined up but at first I was on the fence about it. See where I’m from there wasn’t gangs back then like crips and bloods but crack hit and you know how that story goes. Anyways, as enticing as the older kids made it sound to my young ears just something about it wasn’t me (later in life I found that I had a problem with authority no matter where it came from). So my resistance to temptation, mainly because I felt my mother wouldn’t approve was to stay close to home. Of course I still went out doing what thirteen year olds do, but banging was the last thing on my mind. So one day I was bored with nothing to do ( again me being bored and left to my own devices tends to lead me in one direction). I had this comic book of the fantastic four. I forget which supervillain they were up against. All I know is that the Thing was my favorite character so I decided to draw him. Hell now that I think about it it took me two days to draw him just like when I drew my leopard, crazy right. After I was done I was so proud of myself. To me it looked exactly as it did in the comic. The reddish brown color with the cracks in the skin that made it look like stone. The first thing I felt like I’ve accomplished in my young life. I couldn’t wait until my mother came home from work to show her what I’ve done. I ran out of my room to greet her and to show her my drawing and was immediately chastised. More like castigated cause physical beatings didn’t effect me like they used to, but her words and actions crushed me. “Boy we don’t draw demons in this house,” shoved the paper back at me and completely disregarded my accomplishment and the fact that I was trying to do the right thing.
At that moment I felt like she saw no potential in me, that me and my interest didn’t matter. Within a week I started banging, smoking, drinking and running away from home cause I didn’t want to be there. Refusing to go to church with her and out of anger or hurt she smacked me which only fueled my rebellion even more. Within the year I was in juve for aggravated assault. My reaction to any slight was violent and there was no one who could reach me. Her reaction to me then seemed to attract more attention and kinder words, but it was to late I was already gone. Needless to say I never took the time to sit down and draw something again, until I did.
It’s funny when you look at it. Two days of art first lead me on a destructive path then two days of art brought me back to a path of productiveness. I made a social contract with the universe. I will no longer use by brain for destructive purposes or criminal activity. I dedicate my mind to constructiveness and being a productive human being. I will always be a work in progress whether I see freedom or not.

I am the artist R.Zumar and this is the bocomings of a master.