Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From a teacher's perspective

By Leisa Rich, Artist and SCC Instructor

I taught my first art class during the summer of 1975. The school district where I lived was looking for a summer school weaving teacher and I had just learned to weave. As I remember it, my students were around aged 8-88. I was all of 15 years old. I loved every minute as we built frame looms, wound warps and wove traditional tapestries using contemporary approaches.

While I don’t teach weaving anymore, I still teach, and I still love it. When the opportunity came up to teach at the Society for Contemporary Craft, I was thrilled. Of course, new to the SCC, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a professional experience teaching creative and interested students in a fantastic setting. Everyone bent over backward to make it positive for myself, and for the students.

I am an engaging teacher. I like to give my students value, so I make sure that I meet as many needs as I possibly can. I set out to make Freeing Motion- a two-day workshop featuring the technique of machine embroidery- about learning a variety of processes, experimentation using new products and materials, and to nurture each student’s personal, artistic discovery. Each student came to class with a different perspective, different ideas, and different approaches. I guided them in how to use their new-found stitching knowledge and apply it to their own works.

We started with some simple stitches:

Added in a variety of products to stiffen, transfer and create 3 dimensional shapes:

And ended up at the end of 2 days with some new ideas…and new friends!

In the book classes I taught, Judge A Book By Its Cover and Beyond A Book’s Boundaries, students were encouraged to stretch the concept of “book” and approach it from a sculptural perspective.

I brought a variety of found objects, materials, samples and templates, as well as techniques that could be accomplished in one day, to help the creative juices flow. The ideas that came out were extraordinary! To accomplish this much in one day is a credit to the talent of the students.

We transferred images onto canvas cloth and heat transfer papers, sliced, diced, folded, built, paint, burnished, stitched, waxed and more!

And made even more new friends!

It was a wonderful experience, and one I sure hope to repeat soon! I love Pittsburgh!

Leisa Rich holds a BFA in fibers from the University of Michigan; a BA in Art Education from the University of Western Ontario; and an MFA in Fibers from the School of Visual Art at the University of North Texas. She has exhibited extensively throughout the US, Canada, and abroad. Currently, Rich lives and teaches in Atlanta, Georgia at the Galloway School and the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. 

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