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Bob Carter

Robert Carter is a New York illustrator, painter, and art professor. Carter was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 29, 1938 to Robert and Sarah Carter. He graduated from Central High School in 1955 with an interest and talent for art. Continuing his education he received his B.S. degree from the University of Louisville in 1959 and his M.F.A. degree from the prestigious Pratt Institute of Fine Arts two years later. His first job was as an artist for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he painted scenery before being used as a set designer, fabricator, and finally as a floor director.

Following his time at WHAS-TV, Carter began doing freelance work for several publishing companies including McGraw Hill, D.C. Heath (now known as Houghton Mifflin), and Simon & Schuster where his illustrations were featured in children’s books. Carter also started teaching at Nassau Community College in New York as a professor of art. He also lectured at public schools, universities, and private art organizations. In addition, Carter co-founded the National Drawing Association.

Carter’s art has been featured numerous times from Dallas to New York City. These include his exhibit “Carter Light” at Adelphi University and at the 1st Annual Harlem Fine Arts Show, both in 2010. In 2008, Carter was inducted as a legend into the Hall of Fame at Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Carter was also honored as an outstanding artist at the 10th Annual Celebration of Black Artists by the dedicators in New York. His website, Robert Carter Studio, created in 2006, acts as a portfolio for his work.

His wife, Panchita, is a fine art jeweler and together they have two daughters, Heather and Holly.

Robert Carter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.002

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/27/2010

Last Name

Carter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

G

Occupation
Schools

Harvey C. Russell Junior High School

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School

Louisville Central High School Magnet Career Academy

Paul Laurence Dunbar School

University of Louisville

Pratt Institute

School of Visual Arts

Parsons School of Design

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Organizations

First Name

Robert "Bob"

Birth City, State, Country

Louisville

HM ID

CAR19

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

To Make A Long Story Short.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/29/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chili

Short Description

Art professor Bob Carter (1938 - ) cofounded the National Drawing Association, and taught at the Nassau Community College in New York.

Employment

WHAS-TV

Freelance

Nassau Community College

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bob Carter's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bob Carter lists his favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bob Carter describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bob Carter describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bob Carter talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bob Carter describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bob Carter describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bob Carter describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bob Carter talks about his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bob Carter talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bob Carter describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bob Carter describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bob Carter talks about his father's service in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bob Carter recalls his father's start in the Louisville Metro Police Department

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bob Carter describes his father's career as a deputy coroner

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bob Carter talks about his brother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bob Carter recalls his early interest in art

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bob Carter describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bob Carter talks about his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bob Carter describes his early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bob Carter talks about his activities at Louisville Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bob Carter recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bob Carter remembers his decision to attend the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bob Carter describes his mentors at the University of Louisville

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bob Carter talks about his experiences at the University of Louisville

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bob Carter remembers designing sets for WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bob Carter remembers Sam Gilliam

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bob Carter recalls meeting celebrities at WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bob Carter describes his experiences of hiring discrimination in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Bob Carter describes his master's thesis at the Pratt Institute in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bob Carter describes his involvement with the National Conference of Artists

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bob Carter talks about his work at the Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bob Carter remembers founding the National Drawing Association

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bob Carter describes his artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bob Carter talks about the use of neon signage in his artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bob Carter talks about the children in his artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bob Carter shares his perspective on the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bob Carter talks about his interest in academia and teaching

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bob Carter describes his artistic influences

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bob Carter reflects upon his career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bob Carter describes his artistic philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bob Carter recalls his favorite paintings

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bob Carter remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bob Carter describes his current projects

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bob Carter describes the changes in the fine arts

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bob Carter reflects upon his experiences as an art teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bob Carter describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Bob Carter reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Bob Carter reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Bob Carter describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Bob Carter's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bob Carter lists his favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bob Carter describes his mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bob Carter talks about his maternal grandfather

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bob Carter narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Bob Carter describes his artwork
Bob Carter talks about his interest in academia and teaching
Transcript
Well tell us about your work. Now what is your, what do you like to work in, what kind of work are you constantly trying to do, and what is your philosophy of art? And we'll probably forget all those three, I have to come back and get them (laughter), but tell us something about your art work.$$Well, I've always been centered around a figure. Many of the figures are black images, but I was thinking about this just the other day, although I use black images, it's intended to speak to universals and very often, and because of that many would consider me an ethnic artist. And I feel almost offended when that term is used, when it's used improperly because ethnic implies there's a Eurocentric standard, and everything else is ethnic when we all are ethnic it's a question of which variety, of which particular. So I think that that's often misunderstood because of the fact that I use black as a vehicle I would like to think I'm speaking to, as I said the entirety. There's certain peculiarities that each ethnic group, each geographic group, each cultural group might have, and there are times I would respond to that. But usually the figures are my fo- I'll give you an example I did one painting that is called 'The Jazz Lesson' [ph.], and it's a painting of a grandfather teaching a grandson how to play the saxophone. Now it's inspired by Tanner [Henry Ossawa Tanner], 'A Banjo Lesson' [sic. 'The Banjo Lesson'], so though Tanner's painting and mine are using or employing black images as vehicles, the real theme is the, is the bridging of a generation gap, the grandfather passing on something to the, to the grandson. And for me, you know, if that connection could have been made with any eth- ethnic group. But, you know, like many, you know, I experimented here and there, but basically I find the figure as my vehicle to share certain ideas that are important to me. Sometimes it's social, sometimes it's political, depending on the moment and what I'm trying to, you know, to achieve. Basically the image philosophy--basically I feel that art is a communication process, and you're trying to make a connection, and I feel that whether it's musical--done musically or done through dance. And I'll listen to--for example I'm doing something now, if it works, 'cause whenever you're in the middle of a piece, you--it may not work, but Peggy Lee came out with a song called 'Is That All There Is?'. I don't know if that rings a, rings a bell.$$Oh, yeah, yeah.$$But it's a very--for me, it's a very, very special piece of music that gives you a sense of what life--makes you think about what life is about, if you remember some of the lyrics to it. And, so I say that to say that when I listen to music or go to a play and I'm really moved, my intent is boy, I want to move people like that so that's what I mean by communication. I feel that, those that aren't connecting are in some sort of therapeutic process, important but not necessarily connecting, and I think that whether it's dance or music or poetry and liter- there's a line between executor and the recipient, and I hope to make that, you know, very, very special. And the skills, the media is simply a manifestation of a ve- of a vehicle to make that statement. And as I, as I tell my students, you know, the--you mentioned, you asked me about color earlier, the color is simply one of the many facets of trying to convey the attitude. If the attitude would work better with green then, you know, you use green or whatever, whatever might be the--or media.$As a member of the education community, you're obliged to try to be in the middle so that the student is aware of the--that range. As an individual artist, again many of my images do use the black image because I feel that we're a part of the universe, and if I can show compassion, I can show it with a, with a black image as well as a white. So if I, if I, If I'm labeled ethnic, I think that's the bias of what ethnicity means--that's the bias that--of what ethnicity means to the spokesperson or to the person doing the speaking. In other words, if they're thinking of again Western Europe as the standard and I, and I feel that the universe is the standard, Western Union--Western Europe is simply a part of that standard.$$Right, right, yeah.$$That's--$$To define art as, you know, European art is art and then every--is universal art and then everything else is (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Exac- well, see and that's what I object to. As a matter of fact, I came when--during a time African art was considered folk art, ethnic art. What was the, what was the, there was another term, not tribal.$$Primitive art.$$Primitive, thank you, primitive and one of my close friends who was doing a doctorate at that time said--used to use those terms in in her doctoral training and I said, "Don't, that's not true, you know, it's just simply, it's another, another form, not directly controlled by Western, so called Western standard." And she changed, you know, not because we're friends. You know, it was one of those intellectual dialogues that paid off (laughter) and that's really what attracted me to college teach- teaching. I said this the other day because at this point I'm still there because I still find positive--every now and then a day comes up I say, "Why am I doing this," you know, because of some- something went that day, a meeting that you didn't want to go to or whatever, but my way of expressing what brought me to college teaching was it's great to argue about how many saints, no how many angels dance on the head of a pin which is a cli- kind of a cliche. If you're with good people you have, you can argue about that. You may never agree, but you can argue, you know, hopefully intelligently and with some sensitivity, and it's just a good arena for that. Some of the people that I know in, in the commercial art world doing, you know, well, graphic design, but I don't know a lot of, a lot of those people. One of my closest friends doing storyboard and cartooning and so forth, one of their problems is isolation. One of my very good friends, Stan Goldberg, who does Archie, Archie Comics [Archie Comic Publications, Inc.], don't call him if you're in a hurry 'cause he's going to talk to you for a half hour because he doesn't have conversation every day, you know, he's isolated. He takes his stuff to the publisher and goes back to the studio whereas the college community brings you into a community that, that, that offers the poss- the potential for dialogue.