blood and
I had my first solo show in April 2007. It was at the
Lancaster Museum of Art, in the rural and Amish town
in central Pennsylvania.
At the time the museum contacted me, I thought,
“Wow, what an honor,” with the simultaneous thought
that it would likely also be my last solo show. It was
early in my career, and I hadn’t yet built up confidence
in what I was doing.
I didn’t know what to expect, and I was a nervous
wreck. We had this whole sequence planned where
myfamily was going to fly in and see the show first
at 5
pm before it opened to the public at 6 pm. Since I
never expected to do another solo show, I called all
There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you
with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the
kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you
jump to the skies. —Robert Frost
my friends and invited them. So they were all there,
but I never thought anyone else would come.
At about noon that day, the director of the museum
called and said, “You’re not going to be happy, but
I’ve started letting people in. It’s freezing outside, and
they’re queued up around the corner.”
I was stunned. Usually the gallery saw 35,000 visitors
in a year, but my show had 25,000 in six weeks. The
Amish came, with their buggies and beards.
What blew me away most of all was that these nine-
year-olds came walking through. The show drew
in many families and people who’d never come
to an art museum before. Kids were asking me for
autographs in Lancaster cafés . . . it was bizarre. I was
so overwhelmed by the reaction to the show that I
wanted to give something back to the kids. So, in
May of that year, I started building Dinosaur.
I began creating a skeleton, something like you might
find in a natural-history museum. I was lucky in that I
had some serious experience in the subject. I had a
middle school science teacher named Al James—Mr.
James, at the time—who was an amazing teacher and
would always go the extra mile.

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