Local Artist Shares her Inspiration and Process - Kingswood Oxford

Creative Arts News

April 17, 2024

Local Artist Shares her Inspiration and Process

KO students were treated to an assembly featuring renowned visual artist Amy Genser, whose visit was sponsored by the Goodman Banks Visiting Artist Series. Genser, known for her captivating organically inspired paper sculptures and installations displayed on every continent except Antarctica, took the audience on a journey through her artistic evolution, sharing insights into her creative process, personal experiences, and the unexpected twists and turns that shaped her career.


As Genser stood before the eager crowd, she reflected on her hesitance to see herself as a professional artist. “Being a visiting artist in residence makes me feel so professional, so legitimate,” she confessed. “Like I’m not somebody who just plays with paper, paint, and glue all day.”


Her talk delved into her childhood influences, from the vibrant colors of New Orleans to her parents’ careers. Growing up surrounded by her mother’s intricate jewelry designs and her father’s medical textbooks, Genser absorbed a diverse range of visual stimuli that would later manifest in her own artwork.


Genser humorously recounted her struggles with finding her artistic path, from feeling lost during a senior independent art study to initially pursuing a career in graphic design. However, a pivotal moment came during her time at the Rhode Island School of Design, where a class in papermaking ignited her passion for tactile creation.


“It was like I had found the language I was meant to speak,” Genser remarked. “I didn’t feel like I had anything specific to say, but the form became a message of its own.”


With determination and support from her family, Genser embarked on a journey of exploration, pushing the boundaries of her craft and seeking new challenges. She shared stories of participating in art shows across the country, balancing her artistic pursuits with the joys and responsibilities of motherhood.


One highlight of Genser’s talk was her description of a public art project at the University of Iowa Healthcare Center. She walked the audience through the meticulous process of designing and constructing a large-scale installation (14′ X 6′), emphasizing the importance of technical skills and collaboration in realizing her vision. The piece’s goal was to be inspired by the Iowa landscape and the bustling energy of the hospital itself. She looked through the lines and patterns from aerial views of the Iowa City area to inform her work.


Throughout her presentation, Genser emphasized the multifaceted nature of being an artist, from the creative process to the practical aspects of running a studio and engaging with clients. “Making a pretty picture is by far the most fun and the part I love, being involved within the piece and finding out what it’s going to be and how it wants to look,” she said. “It’s like putting together a puzzle piece. But, whatever you’re going, you have to deal with the business part, too. So you need to pay attention to computer skills and people skills.” She encouraged students to embrace challenges, cultivate diverse skills, and seek growth opportunities.


As Genser concluded her talk, she left the audience a message of empowerment and possibility. “I’ve been working really hard, and I continue to work hard,” she said. “I love this process and this career that I’ve chosen. I hope that some of you, too, will consider this.”


The assembly concluded with a lively Q&A session, where students eagerly asked Genser about her techniques, sources of inspiration, and advice for aspiring artists. Genser left a lasting impression on the students with her infectious enthusiasm and genuine warmth. 


The Middle School and Upper School students had the opportunity to workshop with Genser over two days in a sixth-grade art class, a Foundations in Art class, and a sculpture class.

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