Renoir labored in a porcelain factory, Brancusi was a domestic servant and Haring worked as a janitor. Likewise, Francisco Lopez can tell his Introduction to Art students about waiting tables in New York.
“That was how I made my living,” says Lopez, who earned a master’s degree in art history from New York’s Hunter College. But, initially, the Edsel Ford High School graduate enrolled at Wayne State University to pursue a degree in engineering. That changed after his first survey course in art history. After he switched his major, he started considering both art history and teaching as callings.
“I enjoy research and sharing things with students that I know will expand their capacity for creativity,” says Lopez, whose travels have included Paris, Rome and Istanbul. “I know that when I was a student at Wayne, a professor changed my path in life.”
While at Hunter, Lopez worked in the art history department’s slide library, which helped feed his growing interest in art from the Byzantine and late antiquity periods. But, everything from impressionism to abstract expressionism also intrigues him and he gladly accepted a entry-level position in the visitor’s center at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, more for the experience than the supplemental income.
“Everyday there were thousands of people from every corner of the world walking through the galleries,” offers Lopez. “It was amazing.”
Lopez lived in New York for six years before being offered a job in the research library at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D. C., an affiliate of Harvard University. A big part of the allure is that Dumbarton is known for its Byzantine collection and dedication to international studies. Lopez spent three years there before returning to Michigan to serve as director of International Student Services at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. It was then that he began looking for teaching positions.
“I like the fact that Macomb students are so diverse,” says Lopez. “It’s an interesting atmosphere. It’s a challenge, but it’s exciting. I like to show them things they may never have encountered before.”