Faculty Guest Blogger: Dr. Irene Scotti Lantz
Dr. Irene Scotti Lantz: As an artist/educator, I look back on how I chose the path that I did. Reflecting on the many choices I made reveals the numerous shifts that impacted the work I was doing, and at times my social well-being. Shifting one’s direction in life is not an easy task, aside from the diverse shifts that we make in our day to day living. The all-embracing path’s design for me has always included art in one form or another. For me, the process of shifting or of change seems interdependent with my creative source always keeping the phenomenon of the art experience viable.
Graduating from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Painting and Art History, I was convinced I would embark on a career of fine art. The first shift came with a job at ABC-TV as an electronic graphic artist in 1982. I worked on various network news shows such as, Nightline, World News Tonight, Good Morning America, 20/20, NASA Space Shuttle, and the Elections. At the time, learning computer graphics, to operate nine different computers that generated various electronic creations was innovative, in the forefront of its field. In retrospect it was a great opportunity for me, but at the time I could not appreciate being a computer artist, for it lacked the corporeality necessary for my perception of art making. To satisfy my desire for the tactile and tangible, I continued to paint for ten more years while working at ABC-TV.
Another shift and avenue presented itself during this time, moving me towards the art of metalsmithing. I had learned the art of metalsmithing while attending Pratt. Being disillusioned with not feeling connected to my craft while at ABC-TV, I left the television world to create a new world of creating designs in metal. I could create small artworks which were aesthetically pleasing and which also produced patronage. The work was sold in galleries, and major department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.
Although the following 20 years had its peaks and valleys of struggle and success, which included becoming a wife and mother, there were many directional shifts on the path to grow and nurture as an artist and an entrepreneur. I had reached a major crossroad with my art and business in the year 2000, resulting in a need for more spiritual nourishment from the work. Staying in a milieu that did not provide enough aesthetic experiences, which lacked the nourishment to sustain the health of my psychological, emotional, and spiritual growth, was no longer an option. I chose to risk what I knew being an artist, and decided to look beyond myself and to society. I made the decision to become an art educator, prompting my return to a university to acquire a master’s degree in art education. I was led in a new direction, becoming an art educator at a high school.
To my surprise there were still more shifts in store for me. After six years of being an art educator, teaching the subjects of Painting, AP Art History, and Metalsmithing, my path led me to continue my quest for knowledge of art and human understanding. I went to Switzerland to study Expressive Arts Therapy, Coaching, Consulting & Education, Conflict Transformation & Peacebuilding. My doctoral work led me to ask the question of how the arts, particularly the expressive arts, affect the learning in an economics academic class. I have taught for more than fifteen years, and my journey is still shifting. Grounded in the expressive arts therapy’s idea of incorporating the arts with play to reveal a new world perspective, I currently include the different modalities of the expressive arts (drama, movement, art, poetry, writing, sound, play and improvisation) in my curriculum to help foster students’ imagination and to develop alternate perspectives. The current shift has brought me to teach at Marywood in the Art Education Department, and in addition, I facilitate diverse Expressive Arts workshops for educators and educational institutions.
I believe an artist’s world is not always a straight path, and I have accepted the concept that my path in this world is constantly shifting, but my commitment to art has never waned. Being an artist, change can be disconcerting, and while the unknown can also be frightening, the rewards of taking the risk to travel in a new direction can be insurmountable. And, its gift is that it can make you feel as though you have witnessed something magical.
Consider paths that make you take risks, and travel to new avenues.
— Dr. Irene Scotti Lantz