Marie Weichman – art instructor, experimenter, international traveler, nap lover
“I prefer to inspire those who are looking for direction. That is my goal and OC allows me the opportunity to practice that goal every day.”
Please briefly describe what brought you to OC?
Before coming to OC, I was teaching for eight years at various colleges and universities throughout Texas. My last four years were primarily in the Houston area where I was also very active in the art scene, not only through exhibiting my own artwork, but also opening up my warehouse/studio to exhibitions for other artists for the better part of two years. During that time I co-founded EMPTY BOWLS HOUSTON, a fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. During the 3rd year of that event, we raised almost 50K for Houston’s hungry. Although things were going very well for me in Houston, I was not happy with my teaching assignment and decided to relocate to a place where I could make a difference. That’s when I saw the job posted for Art Professor at OC. Naturally, with family in the area and already knowing how beautiful this part of the country is, I quickly applied and won the job!
What was your job history prior to getting into teaching?
It wasn’t that straight of a road. Like many people, I took several detours between earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1988 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2000. My life took me across the country three times, working in more industries than I can count. I’ve been the Office Manager for a wholesale bakery manufacturer. I’ve been a service agent for an insurance company. I’ve served as marketing support for a hardware and software design company where many of our clients were part of the government. I’ve been the executive assistant to the owner of a video store chain. I’ve filmed commercials and one talk show with my identical twin sister. Through it all, I’ve made, exhibited and sold my artwork. It wasn’t until I was almost done with grad school that I discovered I belong in the classroom. I have done exactly that ever since.
How do you keep current in your field of expertise?
In my field, keeping current while managing the schedule of a full-time professor is not easy. It requires discipline, energy, passion and focus. Having said that, it’s not that hard. I am able to stay informed about exhibition opportunities, available grant money, and possible artist-in-residency openings through many industry-related publications, websites and (not the least of which) a strong network system. Building relationships in one’s field is the best way to “get a break” when working towards any goal. For me, it has lead the way to short periods of living and working in places like China and Denmark; exhibiting in Peru, Germany and various galleries and museums across the United States. I’ve been invited to give workshops and lectures. Most recently, I’ve been working to put together an exhibition of ceramic artists working at community colleges in the Puget Sound area for an upcoming international conference scheduled for Seattle in March 2012.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t really have a “hobby” in the sense that everyone knows that word. I live my “hobby.” Making art is my passion. Sharing and discussing art and creative expression is what I enjoy the most. But, too much of a good thing… well, you know. So, I also love to hike, camp, scavenge through farmer’s markets and second hand stores, watch movies, cook with fresh, local foods for small groups of close friends, and mostly, REALLY enjoy a good nap, especially in front of the fire.
How did your youth encourage your desire to do art?
As mentioned earlier, I am an identical twin, but I also have three other siblings – two brothers and an older sister. My parents are first generation college degree recipients and my father went on to receive a Master’s in Geology. All five of their children now hold bachelor degrees or higher. I’m the product of upper-middle class suburbia, but with five mouths to feed, my parents had to be creative at times. We had a rule that Christmas had to be a primarily “hand-made” holiday. We hosted garage sales to pay for the upcoming Fall school wardrobe, (and, presumably help my mom clean out the closets!). When my great-grandfather on my dad’s side needed to work the neighboring fields, he decided to build a little traveling house in which he could bring the family along for the months of work. It was pulled by mules, and is now known in the family as our first motor-home. My grandfather on my mom’s side was born on an Indigo plantation in India. The end to colonialism brought him to America where several years later he volunteered to fight in WWII out of gratitude for a better chance in life. Due to his Jesuit boarding school upbringing, the US decided to place him with the Intelligence department where he served in India and China throughout the war.
What do you enjoy about teaching at OC?
I am amazed at how many people assume I will one day choose to work for a four-year university. Nothing could be farther from the truth. OC has a student base that includes people of all ages, backgrounds and life experience. Here, I am able to introduce the idea of stronger living through the exercise of creative thinking. I don’t see it as my job to “fine tune” that which is already in place. I prefer to inspire those who are looking for direction. That is my goal and OC allows me the opportunity to practice that goal every day. My question is this: Why would I ever want to leave?!