After joining the Seattle Academy Arts Department in 2012, Lily has quickly become a cornerstone of the community. Her perpetual cheeriness and artistic ability is admired by all her students.
How and when did you become interested in art?
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art or at least the act of making. I grew up in a theater family and in my early years was surrounded by creative acts and props and projects as well as different artists.
What led you to become an art teacher? Had you always planned on become one or was there a series of events that led you to it?
I didn’t plan on becoming an art teacher at all. Sometimes I think my life has two distinct parts, the second part being focused on teaching, but all of it leading up the skills and desire to teach. I am really interested in the process of making and really enjoy seeing others embark on that and discover amazing things. I started teaching teens, then spent many years teaching pre-school, then art, and really grew into this role. At some point though it did become what I most wanted to do. I feel like it embodies so many of the things I love and value and is such a great tool for learning and change. And I think this job at SAAS is the perfect fit for me. I love teaching both middle school and upper school and I love having the freedom to really bring my ideas and inspirations into the classroom.
How were you introduced to ceramics?
I always loved working in 3D but came to ceramics later in life after taking a “mommy and me” ceramics class with my daughter when she was young. I was hooked!
What do you enjoy most about making art?
Everything! I love thinking about ideas, collaborating with other artists, seeing a process through and seeing how your idea changes, exploring mediums, telling stories, finding ways to express myself, challenging others with ideas, making something beautiful. It’s really about communicating and I love that. I have a monthly art group and the last time we met we each started painting a canvas and then switched until each of us had painting on all of the canvases, adding and responding to each other’s work. It was awesome.
What is one medium you would like to experiment or work with more?
Metals and I’d like to do more site-specific, installation projects.
Have you tried any performing arts like acting or singing?
No, I am really a terrible actor and can’t carry a tune! At one point I thought I would act but was more often drawn to the design of it. And I did work for a bit doing multi-media pieces with people, performance art, experimental costumes, but it didn’t keep me. I wanted to explore other worlds.
What do you see as art? Is there any specific quality that you think makes something art?
I think art has to be made with intention. There are so many different mediums, applications, modes of expression etc. so I think that [intention] is really the common thread. Something or some act that is made with intention. It is in the naming of something as art, which is kind of broad, and certainly open to preference and interpretation, that it becomes so. That doesn’t mean it’s good or that I like it or agree with the intention or message but the act of making is a powerful thing.
You have a reputation at SAAS as having a uniquely positive outlook on life. What is your philosophy on life? Does it relate to what you see as art?
That is so cool! I didn’t even know I had a reputation! I think I am just an optimist and feel hopeful about what is possible. I am very curious and interested in learning new things and I think this is joyful. Being around people who are exploring ways of seeing makes me really happy. I am happy when I come to work in anticipation of all the amazing things that will happen throughout the day. This could be a small ah-ha moment of a middle school student discovering perspective or an upper school student challenging themselves to go further with a design idea. How lucky to be able to witness that and be a part of it. I don’t know if I have a specific philosophy about life but I try to practice kindness and value activism. Per relating to what I see as art, I think because I am curious and open it relates to what I see is possible in art. Does that make sense?
You also have a very distinct, colorful sense of style. What do you think the way you dress says about yourself?
Well I would hope that what people see is me being me. I used to dress a lot more colorfully when I made my own clothes and had more time to play with style, so I actually feel kind of toned down these days! I better step it up so when I’m older I can be one of those old ladies in bright stripes and colorful hats!
Do you have any advice for students who wish to pursue careers in art?
Really love what you do and do what you love. Persist, work hard, think about how you want to live because it will inform how you work. Think about your values and how that impacts the choices you make. Live those values. There are so many different versions of what it means to work/be in the arts. Figure out what your version is. Take risks for sure, fail, make all those iterations we all tell you to make but at the heart of this, your version has to be the one where you have an absolute passion for what you are doing.