An expert in painting, drawing, and etching, Gary Lissa is an American artist who has lived in Tuscany for over 30 years. Since 1975, he has regularly exhibited his work in group and one-person exhibitions in Europe and the US.
Gary Lissa is SACI’s 2-D Area Head. He has taught at SACI since 1984, and previously taught at Gonzaga University’s study-abroad program in Florence, Florida State University in Florence, and Syracuse University in Florence. He has worked as a technical consultant and edition printer for “Il Bisonte” print shop in Florence and was also a Teaching Assistant in Color Etching at “Il Bisonte” International School of Printmaking. He has regularly exhibited in group and one-person exhibitions since 1975.
Gary Lissa has an MA, University of Iowa; MFA, Rosary College Graduate School, Florence (Villa Schifanoia); BFA, Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He studied at Wimbledon School of Art, England, and Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris, France.
I feel that it is a privilege to be teaching students who have chosen to broaden their educational experience by studying abroad. I likewise chose to do so both as an undergraduate (two years at Wimbledon School of Art in England), and as a graduate student (Rosary College Graduate Program in Florence, Italy). When I am working with students my own memories and experiences of those very important and fruitful years constantly come to mind. This undoubtedly influences my notions about teaching.
The student who comes abroad is searching for something, something that so far he/she hasn’t found within the conventional boundaries of education. To say this is not to subvert what came before but rather to realize that evaluating experience in a different context is sometimes necessary. I guess the best example to use could be likening the student’s experience abroad to that of learning and using another language (which in most cases is literally occurring along with the student’s studying of painting, drawing, art history, etc).
The studying of a new language causes one to re-examine one’s mother tongue. Habitual, repetitive ways of conveying concepts are questioned. A clearer path between meaning and its communication is established.
The underlying philosophy of my teaching of studio art is to examine the equilibrium between idea, vision, and process. I attempt to help the student create a reciprocal relationship between the concepts that are to be conveyed, the cultivation and scrutiny of his/her vision, and the skills and systems that are brought to call to make the artworks.
I attempt to do this by talking about the complexity of creativity in simple terms, using analogies, metaphor, and commonplace language comprehended by all I also strive to retain the fascination and magical quality of the creative act which makes it such a unique human activity.