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  • Sara Tucker

"My Parents Told Me to Study Art"

Amy Hook-Therrien, illustrator of "My Bring Up," a collection of stories and essays by Shirly Hook.

Vermont artist Amy Hook-Therrien will join Shirly Hook and me at Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph on Sunday, October 20, to talk about illustrating My Bring Up, her mother's collection of stories and essays. As I was preparing my talk, I came across this article in Psychology Today about the important role mothers play in preserving family stories, often passing them to the next generation through their daughters. This didn't surprise me—most of the people in my writing workshops are women, and most of them are there to write down family stories and personal histories. Amy made 20 illustrations for her mother's book, one for each story. The original drawings will be on display at Chandler.

ST: Hey, Amy, I hear you've been pretty busy lately. What have you been working on?

AHK: I‘ve been painting like crazy lately. I’m trying to get ready for a few shows coming up. I’ve been trying to enjoy this beautiful fall as much as possible, and gathering inspiration to take me into winter.

How did you go about illustrating your mom's book? Did you and she talk about it, or did you just do your own thing?

When Mom first told me about the book, I was really excited. She has been sending me one or two stories at a time since she started her writing classes with you. It‘s perfect to have them compiled into a book. She asked me if I would do some illustrations for the book, and of course I said I would! When we first started discussing what would be pictured, she had a few requests, and others I came up with on my own. I really tried hard to get it right. When she was talking about her bicycle I had her describe it, then I looked online to find the style and asked which ones were similar.

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? Who or what inspired you?

When I was really little I used to change my wanted profession to whatever my older sister Jenny wanted to be. So I wanted to be a doctor, a marine biologist, and then an anthropologist. I always loved creating, though. When I was in school, most of my art teachers would let me stay in from recess or work in their classrooms during study hall to work on art. Once I graduated from high school, I still thought I might study something else, but my parents told me to study art. I am so lucky having the support team I do. Art makes me truly happy.

"My Five-Dollar Bike," illustration by Amy Hook-Therrien. Copyright Amy Hook-Therrien.