Elizabeth Greisman has always had an ongoing love affair with art.
She was born in Toronto, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her resume! If you know Elizabeth, the breadth of her experience won’t surprise you. For those unfamiliar, Elizabeth is the Cultural Arts/Visual Arts Coordinator at the Prosserman JCC and the Schwartz Reisman Centre running a full visual arts program for everyone from toddlers to seniors with a strong focus on ceramics, drawing, painting and printmaking.
No matter what class you’re interested in, you’re certainly in good hands with Elizabeth. Her expertise has been used with The National Ballet of Canada and The Tapestry Opera Company, just to name a few. With educational roots from Paris, France, Elizabeth’s work has been exhibited all over the world, including multiple disciplinary shows for Toronto’s own Nuit Blanche.She also co-curates the Nascent Art Science collective, a group of global artists and scientists dedicated to facilitating scientific concepts through art and social change.
If you can’t already tell, Elizabeth Greisman has a monumental passion for the world of art, and for sharing it with others. We sat down with her to find out more about the role that art plays in her life:
Q: How has your life been shaped by art?
Since my earliest years I have been motivated to create art works to express my individuality. I have worked in many forms, doll clothes design when young, drawing, painting, photography and textile design when older. I have often worked in a cross-disciplinary fashion with dance, science, poetry, cuisine, medicine, and horticulture in the visual arts.
Q: What inspires your creativity?
I would say that the ideas come tome fairly quickly as I view an exhibition or internalize and interpret an event. I concentrate on the emotion inherent in each response. I also enjoy organizing multi-peopled and multi-disciplinary large scale events as much as the solitary practice of the studio. It often takes a while to think of the concept. I never sketch out an artwork ahead but prefer to paint with immediacy ,a la prima.
Q: What does your position at the JCC entail?
At the JCC I am the Cultural Arts and Visual Arts Coordinator at both the Prosserman JCC and Schwartz/Reisman Centre. As such I administrate the visual arts schools for pre-school to senior adult. Our adult classes in drawing, painting and ceramics are instructed at the beginner to professional levels. We also run workshops in specialized subjects. As well I am responsible for the curating and the mounting of the visual arts exhibitions at both locations.
Q: Why were you interested in starting these programs at the JCC?Joining the JCC in this capacity provided a forum for my lifelong dream of leading my own art classes in a community based setting. I enjoy contributing to the Jewish Community.
Q: You say that teaching young children has been a life-long passion for you... what sort of joy do you get from it and why?
The creativity, inventiveness, resilience and expressiveness has always been a hallmark of creative energy. During my thirty plus years as an educator, I have always tried to maintain some of this enthusiasm and originality in all of my programs.
Q: How do you come up with different class concepts?
I base a lot of my decisions on my experience as a multifaceted international artist and educator.
Q: When you teach art, you ensure you incorporate its rich history and make cross-disciplinary references to science, math, and language... why i sit important to make these connections?
Art does not exist in isolation. It must stem from and augment other concepts as inspiration. Looking to other disciplines helps to enrich the breath of credibility and depth necessary for each individual piece.
Q: You also have an extensive background in dance, world-travel and landscape designing...do you still practice any of these things today?
I am very privileged to have been a guest visual artist of Canada’s National Ballet and the Tapestry Opera Company using skills I learned at Central St Martins School in London, England. I have a strong interest in horticulture and botanical gardens and produced a first draft of a cookbook for Le Jardin Botanique du Marnay sur Seine France while I was an artist in residence atLa Maison Verte.
Q: Why do you think it’s so important for children –or anyone at any age for that matter –to express themselves creatively?
Art showcases our creative soul and our humanity.
'The Angel Sisters' by Elizabeth Greisman
'Sensing the Shawdows' by Elizabeth Greisman at Nuit Blanche 2009