Great fun tonight at the West Hills Art League February Meeting! A HUGE thank you to Chris Fondi for leading us all through mark making techniques and creating our own Art Zines! LOVED IT!!!
By Rita Wilson
When Leah Shuck walks into a room, you might notice her oversized glasses, her chic bangs, and her easy smile. It’s also likely that you’ll notice her original style – especially if she is wearing one of her repurposed outfits. Leah has brought her creativity and energy to WHAL, jumping right in to volunteer to serve on the board as Secretary. Let’s take a peek at what’s behind the woman who is clicking away on her laptop at every month’s meeting to provide us with the minutes.
Leah hails from Huntingdon, PA. She was first inspired to create art by her elementary art teacher who played Beatles music during class, wore Hawaiian shirts, and brought in Iguanas. Motivated by her early experiences, she continues to take art classes in high school. But when her high school art teacher said, “Do you have a Plan B?” Leah turned her direction towards business classes. Luckily, she created a business plan for an Art Therapy office, and her initial love for art was rekindled.
Leah attended Seton Hill University with the intention of obtaining a degree in art therapy. She took all the studio courses that she could fit into her schedule, with a focus on oil painting and printmaking. She soon realized that it was the making of art that stood out to her, and she switched to K-12 art education.
Upon earning her teaching certification, Leah landed a job as an art teacher for West Allegheny High School. She was thrilled to get a high school position, as she finds high school students both fun and challenging. “I like them,” she says, “and no day is the same!”
Teaching art only scratches the surface of Leah’s busy life. While teaching full time, Leah earned her Master’s in Art Education at Carlow University. While there, she took a class on “Creativity” which motivated her to examine re-using items to create art. Her interest in repurposing was further enhanced by a workshop on altered books that she took at Contemporary Crafts, where she realized that she could “do things with those little things and scraps I’ve saved.” With an inclination to create using mixed media, Leah worked on altered books for a few years – taking old books and creating art pieces out of them. With a full-time teaching job keeping her from being able to invest the time into larger works of fine art, this gave her the opportunity to experiment in mixed media on a smaller scale. From there she moved into upcycled and recycled “stuff,” and subsequently launched her website, sustainablestiches.earth in spring of 2018. Leah’s focus has been on recycling and repurposing items and clothing. This art educator has taken creativity to a new level.
After living briefly in Coraopolis and Ben Avon, Leah bought a house in Carnegie, where she has resided with her dog, Xander, an eight-year-old pitbull, for the last four years. She has set up a studio in the basement with a drafting table and separate areas for sewing, and she continues to explore fiber arts and creating new clothing out of old clothing. When she’s not making art, she likes to read, walk Xander, or cuddle on the couch with him and watch Gilmore Girls repeats.
Between her job, her projects, serving as the PA Art Education Association Representative, and volunteering as the West Hills Art League Secretary, Leah still makes time to attend workshops to “keep the ideas flowing.” She has also started Second Saturday Maker Meetings, a time and space for people to get together and make art. Whether it’s in a workshop or in the classroom, Leah says, “I want everyone to have the opportunity to be as excited about art as I am!”
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