Artist Spotlight: Leisa Rich

I had the opportunity to interview artist Leisa Rich, who will be conducting a workshop with C4 on April 6 and 7.  Join nationally known Atlanta artist Leisa Rich for an enlightening, comprehensive and transformational workshop titled “Artistic Genealogy: Charting Your Creative Journey”. This brand-new approach is available nowhere else and is the culmination of 7 years of intensive research.

Read on to learn more..

-How has your background in the arts shaped how you teach your workshops?

I taught my first art class in 1976 at the inception of my immersion into visual art and found it so fulfilling that I have built my teaching career simultaneously alongside my art career since, developing, nurturing and fine-tuning both as I have gone along. It was also a necessity in paying the bills, so it is a real plus that I get as excited about guiding my students in their personal, creative journey as I do in my own work! That adage, “Those who can, do and those who can’t, teach” needs to be retired; if an artist is truly obsessed with their arts discipline and knowledgeable about it, that always translates to students, even if the process of teaching itself is not in an artist’s comfort zone. Having said that, I am lucky to have the gift of being a great teacher. I believe that my students deserve above and beyond and I will bend over backward to give that to them. Since I have had a career in the visual art field since the 70’s I have experienced the highs, lows and challenges inherent to this life path. I have owned an art gallery so I have the experience of the complexities dealing within that arena; I have been the director of an art school, so am comfortable working with students and management who benefit from my professional knowledge; I have hung shows, curated exhibitions and submitted work so know how challenging these processes can be, and I have taught at numerous arts centers and colleges where my hands-on expertise and exhibition experience benefits others. I also have a Bachelor of Education degree as well as MFA and BFA degrees, so the added bonus of being “taught how to teach” in an excellent educational institution dedicated to just that provided me with great tips, tools and techniques to succeed. Therefore, when someone comes into a workshop I am going to stimulate them from every angle I can, using auditory, visual, sensory, sight, and more, in ways that will connect them to the material. Artists learn in a variety of different ways; as a very visual, tactile person who finds technical, left-brain things a little difficult sometimes, I am hyper-aware of what I need to do to meet their specific needs.

 

-What do you think about the Art scene here in Atlanta? What are some of its strengths/weaknesses?

I have lived in Atlanta not quite 6 years, so I am still a “newbie” on the “outside” of the scene. My hectic teaching schedule during the week at The Galloway School, and the fact that I travel-to-teach many weekends/week long stints at arts centers around the country, and my responsibilities as a parent, have made it difficult to get out regularly to a lot of events. That is one real positive in the Atlanta arts scene- there is ALWAYS something to go to! I have experienced some very, very big lows here that were quite disheartening and had some bad experiences with some of Atlanta’s art individuals and galleries. I have also had some wonderful highs such as being included in Noplaceness, being a part of Sixfold Collective, collaborating with Terri Dilling, being asked to be in several shows at great galleries curated by wonderful individuals, and have met many intriguing, talented and awesome artists, curators, gallery owners and more. I think there is a tremendous amount of talent and opportunity for those who can afford the time to avail themselves of everything Atlanta has to offer. As with everyone else, I am quite concerned about the recent closures of brick and mortar galleries, because work like mine needs to be seen in person and I know that that is true for a lot of art- it just can’t be appreciated as much seen on a computer screen! If there were any suggestions I could make to the “established” art world of Atlanta they would be….be more open, be kind, and be inclusive to ALL, not just the “stars” and embrace and expose the public to a wider variety of visual arts’ disciplines.

 

-Describe your workshops.  What do you think artists can achieve from your workshops? What is the main goal?

I teach a variety of workshops, so there would be a different goal for each. Attendees are often looking for results unique to them in a workshop. I try to find out what each person’s specific needs are and meet those within the context of the workshop’s goals. My Artistic Genealogy workshop coming up at C4 is not a “hands on” instructional workshop such as my other workshops; it is a very personal journey of discovery where I ask each person, “What makes you an artist (musician, writer, dancer, etc.)? Where does your unique voice come from? How does your creative work connect with your viewers? Then using psychology, anthropology, genetics, ancestry and more, I have devised a brand new, intriguing and fun system of personal discovery that assists each person in looking to the past, the present and the future, in an in-depth search to better understand themselves and their connection with their audience. There certainly is a plethora of information available to artists on how to succeed financially, how to write a CV, how to find gallery representation, use social media promotional materials and more available- this is NOT that. Artists acquire skills, hone their craft with time and practice (and an inordinate amount of patience!) but often are not quite sure what meaning the making has. I help them to discover how their creative work can speak greater volumes to the viewer and feel more deeply satisfying.

 

-What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

Oh, what a loaded question for a woman in her 50’s!!!! My biggest fear in life is that my physical or mental limitations will prevent me from creating. That would be certain death for me, as I don’t do art because it is “cool”. I do it because I have to. If I could, I would do art 24 hours a day, 7 days a week every week for the rest of my life, and I have aspirations to be immortal just so I can continue making art! It is the one constant that always takes care of me, gives me what I need and desire, and never, ever lets me down. So- I think I just answered your question…doing art. And more art. Oh, and finally making money at it….!

 

For more information about the workshop, please visit:

http://www.fiberartsalliance.org/home/classes#Genealogy

For more information on Ms.Rich please visit http://www.monaleisa.com/

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