THE YEAR WAS 1972. I arrived in New York City in October. My goal was primarily to continue my art education. I came to the land of opportunity which I had heard so much about. It was purely a self-seeking venture. It is possible to achieve anything in America if you are ambitious and industrious.

My two initial degrees, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Communications Design, were achieved while I worked as a security guard, a messenger, and a dishwasher in New York City. While completing my master’s degree I won a scholarship to further my education. Eventually I earned a doctorate from Columbia University. In July of 2012, I retired after 27 years of teaching in the New York City Public School system. I am spending my days on my art now.

— Jide Ojo, 2013