Today I found out that my longtime mentor and friend Gordon Lee passed away from cancer at the age of 63. It is difficult for me to form words expressing how deeply saddened I am. I have been his graduate assistant for the last year and a half; assisting five of his classes in total. He has also been my head mentor within the MFA program for equal amounts of time. Though my heart is aching, I want to take this moment to focus on how much his wisdom and kindness has impacted, not only myself, but also the many students that I have had the pleasure of knowing while under his wing.
I first met Gordon while attending the annual MFA BBQ held at Ric Petry’s house for the incoming MFA students. I had just moved to Columbus from a small farm town in northwest Ohio, so I was very much a little fish in a big pond. While attempting to mingle among the guests of faculty members and students, a man approached me and with a smile upon his face said ‘I need your help with my classes this semester, badly’. My role as a graduate assistant to Gordon Lee had begun.
For the many months to follow I would witness Gordon direct classes as if it was second nature; engaging students with his fun personality and vast knowledge of art. He was always open to any student’s ideas, and pushed them all to reach their full potential. I never saw a sliver of negativity from him; he overflowed with warmth and kindness. As my mentor within the MFA program, Gordon opened my eyes to the possibilities that my artwork had. A firm believer in hard work, he helped to solidify my active work ethic. I wouldn’t be half the artist I am today had it not been for his guidance.
I will never forgot the early morning assistings that I had with him. On days when it would be pouring rain outside, I would walk into the classroom completely drenched and say to him ‘that’s some crummy weather out there.’ to which he would reply ‘the weather is beautiful; full of energy.’ I feel that sums Gordon up perfectly. A man that always looked on the positive side for every situation. I will miss you dearly friend.