Eddie Arning

Eddie Arning was born in 1898 in the Texas farming community of Germania. He lived and worked on his father's farm until he was thirty. As a young adult he began exhibiting signs of mental illness and in 1928 he was committed to the Austin State Hospital. He was released the following year, but his problems continued and in 1934, diagnosed with schizophrenia, he returned to the hospital and spent the next 30 years there. In 1964 Arning was released to a nursing home, where he met Helen Mayfield, a summer employee. She provided coloring books to a group of elderly men and, noticing Arning's individuality began providing him with paper. Arning's earliest works were memory inspired drawings. Subjects included barns, farm implements and barnyard animals drawn in wax crayon on colored paper. An English professor at the University of Texas, Alexander Sackton, began numbering and cataloguing his work.

In 1966 Arning began looking at magazines, available at the nursing home, and transforming images into drawings. Advertisements, photo illustrations and cartoons were all sources for his powerful work. In 1973 Arning was forced to leave the nursing home for refusing to follow the rules. He went to live with a sister and within a year stopped drawing. He died in October, 1993.