Robert W. H. McCoy, born in Colorado Springs, CO in 1946
My mother's family arrived in Colorado Springs from Seward, Nebraska during the 1870's by taking a cutoff from the Oregon Trail. Some of their possessions from that trip are in the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. My great grandfather started a dairy farm on land that is now part of Colorado College, and two of his sons started the Ox-Bow cattle ranch which covered parts of Pueblo, Huerfano, and Las Animas counties. The mountain route of the Santa Fe Trail crossed over part of the ranch.
My father's family were Scottish farmers who arrived in North Carolina around 1750 due to the Highland Clearances. They initially settled in the Cape Fear River region. John McCoy, my 4th great grandfather, fought in the American Revolution with Capt. Joseph Sharpe's Light Horse Service. After the war, the family gradually migrated west, arriving in Colorado Springs in the 1880's.
I spent my formative years in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1950’s. That gave me an appreciation for both Native American and Hispanic cultures, and exposure to their works of art. My two best friends were Navajos whose families lived at the Indian School. As a kid, I was always drawing with whatever materials were available. At age twelve, we moved to San Antonio, Texas where I began studying drawing and painting with Warren Hunter, a noted artist and illustrator.
After serving in the Air Force during Vietnam, I continued studying painting at the University of Houston, receiving a BFA degree in 1974. Upon completion, I was accepted for graduate work at the University of New Mexico, the University of Arizona, and Southern Methodist University. I was also given the opportunity to live and teach in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for a year, which I chose. That gave me exposure to the original paintings and murals by prominent Mexican artists, and life within a different culture. At the end of the year, I was given the same opportunity to live and teach in Rome, Italy. I traveled by freighter, which took several weeks to unload cargo at different ports. Those experiences were unique and had a profound influence on my work. After returning to Texas, I was accepted in the graduate program at the University of Houston, and received a MFA degree in 1981.