Artist Andy Austin has been present at many of the most exciting and important trials in Chicago courtrooms over the last 40 years, drawing for the public the historic scenes that Rule 53 prevents cameras from documenting. She has honed the keen observational skills and humanistic eye that enliven her penetrating sketches over a lifetime of arts, adventure, travel, and extensive reading. Though long admired for her talent of capturing the world of the courtroom in images, it is now clear that her gift extends to the written word as well.
Andy Austin was born in Boston to an artistic father bred of puritans and sea captains and a mother from Chicago who attempted to be a proper hostess, including the night Salvador Dali showed up for dinner with a dead bird on his head. When she was thirteen, her family moved to Florida so her father could photograph polo ponies and society women. Having previously attended only private, all-girls schools, Andy found her two years at a large, co-ed public high school in Florida made a deep impression on her. After graduating from Shipley, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, Andy went on to Vassar College, where she majored in English and minored in philosophy (she took no art classes). She was accepted into Berkeley where she intended to do graduate work in Latin American studies, but after wandering around Europe for a summer, she was inspired to stay in Italy and studied (though she says that’s too strong a word) art in Florence at the Accademia di Belle Arti. She enrolled in the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when she returned to the United States.
That autumn she met her first husband, a Harvard Law School student. She gave birth to their son at the end of her second year in art school. They moved after that to Washington, DC, where her husband worked in the Justice Department while Andy stayed home and tried to paint. When the Berlin Wall was built, her husband’s reserve unit was called up and suddenly their family was moved to Oklahoma for a year at Fort Sill. When he was discharged, they moved to Vienna, where he wrote music and studied conducting and she was a hausfrau. When they moved back to Chicago, her husband was hired as a music teacher at the Latin School just before Andy gave birth to their daughter. In 1969, when their son was nine and their daughter five, Andy was hired by ABC News to cover the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and has worked for the local television station ever since, her prolific career the subject of this book.
In 1994 Andy married Ted Cohen, a philosopher at the University of Chicago. They have traveled all over the world (Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Poland, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and Israel), often for philosophy conferences. She always draws at the lectures and, as she does, finds herself blissfully happy because she’s provided what she loves most—new faces to explore accompanied by an interesting soundtrack.