When Ta-coumba Aiken was growing up in Evanston, Ill., his father, a janitor at the local Woolworth's, brought home crayons, papers, and the like from dumpsters behind the store. Though he wanted Ta-coumba to become a lawyer when he grew up, he knew his son had a strong creative streak. Ta-coumba's mother, an artist who painted old furniture with colorful patterns of dots and lines, saw it too. She encouraged her son by her example. "My mother was a healer," Aiken says. "I used to watch her work when I was 7 or 8. I saw whole worlds in the dots that no one could disturb. I used to look at her designs for hours." By then Aiken had already had his first show, which he says pulled in $657.36--a number that seems etched... More >>>