Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hiding Marcia

Artists have long been known to hide things in their artwork. Sometimes the items or words hidden are meant to be found and other items or words hidden are more for the artist's private purposes. Some things hidden have been quite harmless and funny, and other things have been obscene (if seen) and scandalous. One of the most famous artists that openly hid words in his drawings was famed Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. He hid his daughter's name "Nina", in most, if not every caricature he drew since her birth in 1945 until his death in 2003. That's a lot of hidden Ninas! He would even hide multiple Ninas in some caricatures and then place a number after his name to let the viewer know how many times her name was hidden in that drawing.

Over the years, I've also hidden words in my artwork. Nothing too daring or mischievous, just fun stuff. The only word hiding I've done over the past 13 or so years have been the names of people's spouses (more on that will come in a future blog). Most notable to me is the name of my spouse, Marcia. Her name is hidden on the cover of the book, A is or Adam. The reason for this was not to be daring or anything like that. It was done to say, "thank you". You see, when I produced the artwork for A is for Adam back in 1995, we lived in Minnesota and I was working as a staff cartoonist for a company that made children's products such as scratch and smell stickers, fun meal type boxes, and school lunch posters. Illustrating a children's book was a freelance job that I worked on in my off hours. And it took me 4 long months to complete the project. Almost every day during those 4 months, Marcia would see me just for a little bit after I got home from work and then during supper after I'd taken a good 2-3 hour nap. Then I'd disappear into my closet of an art studio and not be seen again until the next morning when I'd leave for work and the cycle would start all over again. Yet, she was very supportive, patient and helpful during those long stressful months. I'll always be grateful to her for her loving support, especially on that project.

I finished the artwork for A is for Adam in April of 1995, but Marcia never saw the little surprise I hid on the cover until August of that year when we flew down to visit a very new ministry called Creation Science Ministries (later to be renamed Answers in Genesis), headquartered in Florence, Kentucky. Ken Ham invited both of us to come down to meet the staff and see the operation, and also to see the first copies of A is for Adam that had just been shipped to him from the publisher. The first time I saw the actual, finished, printed product was in the Cincinnati airport. The gentleman that was sent to pick us up was holding up a copy of A is for Adam instead of a sign with the name "Lietha" on it. He figured we'd know he was there to pick us up and he was right! Thinking about seeing a grown man holding up a children's book in the airport still makes my chuckle. And it was on the ride from the airport to a restaurant that I revealed the special little secret I'd been keeping from Marcia for the previous 4 months. I held the book up so Marcia could see it and I said, "honey, I want to thank you for being so patient and supportive for the 4 months that it took me to complete this book. And as a way to say thank you, I've hidden your name on the cover of this book". And then I pointed to the spot on the cover where her name was hidden. It was a very touching moment. My voice cracks when I tell the story to this day. And I still enjoy sharing that story with visitors that come to see me at my AiG office. But, not everyone can visit me there, so here the story is for you to enjoy as well.

Where is the location of Marcia's name hidden on the cover you ask? You'll have to visit me at my office or see me speak this summer to get the answer! Or you can buy a copy and find it yourself.

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