Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Transformative Moment

Half way through his fourth grade, Wallace and his family moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago.

On arriving in his new school, the first big project that the young Wallace was set to work on was about Thomas Jefferson. “Back then, you know, if you were affluent, you had encyclopedias. We didn’t.” Wallace recalls time spent in the library, pouring over books.

He was struck by a small print of Jefferson’s image on a book’s sleeve, “and so I traced it—I traced it completely, and when I handed in my report, I included the drawing.”

To his astonishment, and to his parents’ chagrin, Wallace recalls – “I was suspended from school for plagiarism!”

It was a severe punishment, he remembers. “But it was a turning point in my mind. From that point forward I decided, I will only ever do my own work. I’ll never recreate anyone else’s work. I’ll never do what anybody else does. It was truly pivotal for me.”

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