The early abstract works are clearly preschool projects. One piece, with loops of black-and-white paint overlaid with a spray of confetti, is likely the result of dipping marbles in paint, then running them across the sheet of paper. Another piece, from the same year, made with cray-pas on black construction paper, could be read as a landscape—though I could have just enjoyed the satisfying sensation of running soft crayons across construction paper.
From what I can tell, by age three or four, I’d begun more representational works. The earliest ones are blob-like characters that, with a few tweaks, could represent dramatically different things, from a roly-poly feline to Princess Jasmine from the film Aladdin (1992), whom I idolized. A self-portrait I made during kindergarten is a crayon drawing with spare scrawls of brown hair, a curving pink swoop of a mouth, blue bug-eyes, and a peach-colored beak of a nose, all over a beige scribble of pale skin. After years of light exposure to the paper, the large pink bow I made a point of drawing on my head is barely visible. It’s accompanied by my kindergarten musings about Bugs Bunny and the seven cats that belonged to my upstairs neighbors in the first home I lived in.
I’ve never owned a cat (nor do I wish to as an adult), but as a child, I was obsessed with the creatures, in part, I think, because I couldn’t have one—my mom is allergic to them. So, I channeled my passion into my artmaking. I drew the real cats who lived upstairs, like Tut, an fuzzy orange-colored troublemaker who was prone to escaping and went for walks on a leash; the elegant white Persians I saw in Fancy Feast advertisements; and myself dressed up as a black cat for Halloween (my preferred costume for several years). A personal favorite is a rendering of a stoic tomcat made from three pieces of tangerine-colored tissue paper and a black pen.