Don't miss "Myopia," MCA Denver retrospective show of Mothersbaugh's art, on display through April 2015.
For 40 years, your DEVO alter-ego has been the man-child Booji Boy. I'm curious what your childhood was like.
I grew up in Akron, Ohio, and I had severe myopia that went undiagnosed until the second grade. My teachers would say things to me like, "Read what it says on the board," and I'd ask, "What's a board?" or I'd make a joke because I couldn't see anything. I was legally blind. So I was always getting in trouble. I would always get spanked or told to go sit in the corner. My second-grade teacher disciplined me almost every day.
When my sight issues were finally diagnosed, I remember I was in the car with my dad coming back from getting my first pair of glasses. We came over a hill, and I saw smoke coming out of chimneys. I saw clouds. I saw telephone lines. I saw the tops of trees. Before then I had only known the bottom part — the part that I ran into. I remember telling my dad everything that I was seeing. I saw birds flying, and I saw the sun for the first time, and I just went, "Holy crap!"
I showed up at school with glasses, and I started drawing pictures. And my teacher said, "Hey, you draw better than me." It was the first time a teacher hadn't either spanked me or put me in a corner, and I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.