The artists of Creative Gateways all have personal goals attached to their craft and creation. Today, we look at how Pilisa Rainbow Lady uses a particular venue to achieve a goal of her own…
From artist to teacher
Creative Gateways and AMusinGlass founder Pilisa Rainbow Lady is an accomplished fused glass artist, having worked in the medium for the past 12 years. However, in addition to working with fused glass, she also loves teaching about fused glass. One of the ways in which she does this is running a group on Meetup, a website dedicated to helping create communities around common interests or goals. Recently, she discussed her own goals for her Meetup group and what Meetup has meant to her.
One thing Meetup encourages is having a welcoming and thoughtful attitude towards other group members – a philosophy they call “showing up” for each other. Pilisa explains how she embraces this philosophy: “I send out an email to everyone who joins to welcome them to the group and ask them what they’re looking for from me in the Meetup group I’m running. Are they looking for techniques, projects, a general knowledge of glass fusing or something specific? That way I can include their desires as I’m planning for future classes and studio opportunities.”
The Meetup group has had a big effect on the AMusinGlass studio, largely through creating a strong connection with the local community. “We don’t just want to sell our finished glass art,” says Pilisa. “We also want to encourage the community to come and make artistic creations of their own. This not only allows them to appreciate the level of difficulty in creating the art we do, but also allows them to express their own creativity and spirit in the medium of glass.” Encouraging individual expression and creativity has been an important goal for Pilisa, and seeing students progress makes her incredibly happy. “We have had feedback from participants who at the start of the class felt they had no creativity or skill in art, but by the end of the class felt great about having made a piece of art glass. They also shared that they felt creative, sometimes for the first time in their life.” It is no wonder, then, that so many participants return for future classes.
The classes and experiences of the participants also helps support Pilisa’s goals for Creative Gateways. “I’ve wanted to bring that collaborative experience to the public arena at large, and the Meetup group allows us to do that by engaging the public within the community of Sedona.” This has certainly been successful, as class participants frequently express that they enjoy collaborating with both the teacher and other participants. “It helps them tweak their projects and make them better in ways that wouldn’t have happened without feedback and input from others.”
The Meetup and classes have also helped create a buzz that has gotten Creative Gateways and AMusinGlass featured in various forms of local and state press. Attention like that has helped bring greater awareness to the idea of collaboration between artists of different mediums – as happens at Creative Gateways – as opposed to limiting collaboration to be strictly within a singular medium of any particular artist.
At the end of the day
Ultimately, it is important for Pilisa to maintain an atmosphere that supports connection and collaboration. “We try to do this by keeping the Meetup size small so that during the class we’re able to connect with each person individually. It also makes it less intimidating for the participants to know they don’t have to connect with 20 or more new faces as well as make their project. We try to keep circulating and chatting with people so that if we find a commonality between any particular participants, we can help introduce them to each other.” And that approach pays off in one of the best ways possible. “I can easily see that it works from all the smiles and hugs going around the group as people head out at the end of the Meetup!”
In addition to using Meetup, you can sign up for any of the AMusinGlass classes by visiting our online store or by visiting or calling Creative Gateways, open 7 days a week, from 10am-5pm. And don’t forget to visit our sister gallery Kuivato at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, open 7 days a week, from 10am-6pm!