Monday, September 6, 2010


On the first Monday of each month some members of EtsyMetal write blog posts around a central theme. This month the questions are, "Where did you go to school? If you had the opportunity to go back to school, would you? Where and what would you study?"

college days

I received my BS in Social Welfare from UW-Milwaukee and I worked as a social worker with youth-at-risk for eight years. I had drawn and painted in high school and college, then I started to sew - quilts and other patchwork items - until I eventually moved into soft sculpture.

I slowly scaled back the social work to part-time and earned the rest of my living at craft shows along the East Coast. I went back to school in '99 for my MFA in Fibers from the Memphis College of Art. That was when I started to work conceptually in earnest and found my voice through my work, I wrote an earlier post about my thesis show.

tableau vivant at the Brooks Museum

Other than a short stint as a web designer for a brokerage firm I have always worked with kids, my last full-time position was in the Education Dept. at The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Now I work part-time in the Memphis City Schools doing short-term artist residencies, as well as other teaching artist gigs around the community. I love children and I love to make art with them, I love it as much as working metal in my studio.

Kindergarten Ring, 21/365, photo by Amy McSpadden

As a social worker I counseled kids and I really miss the relationships that develop when you work closely with a child over time, rather than for just a few weeks as I currently do. I have a strong interest in Art Therapy and have considered returning to school for another Master's degree at some point, Pratt in Brooklyn has a distance program that I've looked into pretty seriously.

For now I'm focused on my work (and Ring a Day). I'm preparing to move to a bigger studio and my head is filled with ideas for expanding my business next year (after Ring a Day is over, jeez). Who knows what the long-term future holds - perhaps when I'm in my 50's I will be attending Pratt Institute.

Please visit my EtsyMetal friends to read their thoughts:

Victoria Takahashi


  1. Great post Tomi!
    I enjoy reading your posts - they are always so very interesting and well written - and you are interesting person too !
    I love learning ! I learn everyday even a small thing is something!

  2. I love the Kindergarten ring! We need more inspiring people, like you in this world.

  3. nice post Tomi,
    I didnt know about your passion for children, what a great way to give back.
    you are one of the most creative gals and I love to watch and see what you make!

  4. Thanks for all the hard work you do with kids. They are all so lucky to have you in their lives! Your work is inspiring and now I know your life outside the studio is too.