some of our student's works
Welcome to part 6 of our series, Meeting the Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Event Representatives. Last post we met Elizabeth Siegel. Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts programs would be nearly impossible to run without the help of volunteers. After receiving specialized training through the Associates volunteer office, studio arts event representatives are poised and ready to assist both teachers and students in a variety of important ways. In return for their commitment which often spans eight weeks, volunteers have the option of actively participating in the class where they have been assigned. In this special series of interviews, we offer our readers an insider’s perspective on our hands-on art programs and share just a little bit about these special people who volunteer with Smithsonian Associates on a regular basis. We hope you enjoy meeting them.
Interview with Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Event Representative, Leslie Borsuk
How long have you been a volunteer?
I’ve been with Smithsonian Associates four years.
Why did you decided to become a Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts volunteer?
The Smithsonian is such a great resource for area residents and the nation. I have always been interested in the arts, and this seemed like a good way to support the Smithsonian.
What is most rewarding for you about volunteering?
Working with the teachers and meeting the students. All of the teachers have been very knowledgeable about their field and are professional artists. They are eager to help the students feel comfortable with the artistic process and create successful projects. The students tend to be enthusiastic and have developed friendships through the classes.
What is your favorite Smithsonian Museum? Why?
I enjoy them all. It is hard to select one over the others.
Do you have an arts background?
No academic training, just a lot of enthusiasm for it.
What classes have you participated in?
Beginning Drawing, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Painting is for Everyone, Beginning Oil Painting, Introduction to Watercolor, Exploring Abstraction, Painting at Brookside Gardens, Sogetsu Ikebana, several quilting courses, Jewelry making courses.
Do you have a favorite class?
One of my favorite classes was Chinese Brush Painting, which I took about 20 years ago. Though it is scheduled occasionally, it is no longer offered by that particular instructor, but a group of students from the original class continues to get together about once a month to paint. Even though my favorite class is no longer taught, I have enjoyed every class I have taken since and learned a lot. I find it difficult to identify a new favorite.
If you could design a class, what would it be?
I'd like to have advanced classes in oil and watercolor painting. Workshops devoted to specific painting techniques would also interest me.
Any tips for other volunteers, teachers or students that they wouldn’t know from the course description?
Although many of the classes are listed as beginner or introductory, the teachers are flexible and tailor the class to the students. In many of the classes I have been in there are students taking the class for the 3rd time or more. The more experienced students often help the beginners and quite a camaraderie develops amongst them.
You get to talk to the students, have you noticed any common obstacles they have had to overcome to take the class (ex: unsure of their art skill, etc)?
I have talked to several students who are taking an art class for the first time or who are returning to art after years/decades. I think the teachers are especially good at reassuring them.