The Miracle of Cooper Union
If you really know me, you know that Cooper Union is extremely dear to me. It was a turning point in my life. While attending New World School of the Arts in Miami, our instructors were pushing for all of us, high school students, to not only apply to the best art schools in the nation, but also, to get as many scholarships as possible. Cooper Union was the ultimate goal and highest achievement in their eyes and ours.
My attention and intention were all set on Cooper. There was a problem. Let’s not forget that I was raised Catholic, I am Latin, a female, an only child, and back then, seventeen years old. My umbilical cord was still wrapped tightly around my neck, and as my mom put it, she was not going to let her only child go into the mouth of the wolf. The wolf, of course, was New York City.
With submission I had accepted my fate. My mom wanted me to study medicine. She insisted on reminding me how hard the life of an artist was, and she did not want me to have any hardship.
During painting class, one afternoon in high school, a man, who resembled Hemingway, came in. He was driving down from New York to the Keys, and had stopped to see one of his best friends, Ed Love. Ed Love was our sculpture teacher and the Dean of Arts at our school. The interesting thing is that Mr. Love was never in painting class. As I just mentioned, he was the sculpture teacher. It is one of those serendipity things I guess.
This man from New York started to walk around the classroom as we were all working on our paintings. I remember it clearly, I had my easel by this wall to wall glass window overlooking downtown. It was a perfect area since the light was coming in from my left, and I am right handed. The man approached my area and observed me paint for a few minutes. He began to speak, and the conversation went as follows:
Him: What schools are you applying to?
Me: University of Miami.
Him: Do they have a good painting program there?
Me: I do not know.
Him: Who is making you go there? Your mother?
Me: (shocked) yes
Him: What does she want you to study? Medicine?
Me: (wide-eyed) Yes
Him: Who is going to live your life? You or your mother?
Me: When you are from a Latin home and a girl, your mother.
Him: What school do you want to go to?
Me: Cooper Union but she won’t let me and the deadline for the application passed already.
Him: I am the Dean of Art at Cooper Union. Do you have a pen and paper?
By this point I was beyond shocked, gasping for air and trying for my heart not to jump out of my chest. He proceeded to hand write a letter asking for the school to send me an application kit. His name was Arthur Corwin. At this point he was a miracle and later my sculpture Professor at Cooper.