April 16, 2019 Artist to Watch: Lesley Guzzardo

Photo courtesy of: Christine James Photography

Photo courtesy of: Christine James Photography

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Photo courtesy of: Christine James Photography

Photo courtesy of: Christine James Photography

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Lesley Guzzardo

Moon Dust Weavings & Artists in the Classroom

Lesley Guzzardo is a local gem. Recently juried into the Art Flow 2019 exhibition, she is also an arts teacher at Louisiana Key Academy, a working artist, and somehow finds the time to raise a family. Lesley will be exhibiting her work in the upcoming “Artists in the Classroom” exhibition, which will be on view in the Firehouse Gallery from April 22 - May 2, 2019. We were pleased to grab a precious few moments of her time to talk about her work in the fiber arts and how it all came about in our Artist to Watch Blog this week!

Were you always interested in visual arts?

I’ve always appreciated art, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I really started developing a love for it. Growing up, my need for perfection always kept me away from exploring my creative side. Once I learned to let go of that, my creativity was unleashed and I’ve been in love with art since then. I love learning about the lives of artists. Their stories are so fascinating. After college, I began my career as a teacher and taught first and second grade for 8 years. In 2013, I moved to Baton Rouge and began teaching at Louisiana Key Academy, a public charter school for dyslexic students. Right away I realized that creativity and the arts played to our students’ sea of strengths so I loved finding ways to incorporate art into the curriculum. When my school was ready to start an art program, I was asked to be the art teacher. (Which I happily accepted!) I’ve had the luxury of creating our entire art curriculum and our students are exposed to so many incredible artists. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to bring out the best in our kiddos while sharing something I am so passionate about!

When did you lean into fibers, & did you seek formal training?

Long before I ever even thought about weaving or fiber arts, I had this thing for yarns. The different textures, the endless color variations, it just drew me in. I would buy yarn and have no idea what I was going to do with it! (Little did I know that my obsession with yarn was going to be useful someday!) As an art teacher, I knew I wanted to introduce my students to weaving and fiber arts. I was intrigued by weaving and the history of it, and I knew our students would love it. After a little research, I wrote a Donors Choose for a giant loom for the art room. I took the loom home over the summer so I could learn to how to use it. During that summer, I fell in love with weaving immediately and haven’t stopped since then! In October of 2018, I decided it was time for me to step out and share my work and that is how MoonDust Weavings started. I haven’t had any formal training, but there are some amazing fiber artists out there that I’d love to learn more from! Learning is a never-ending process.

What types of fiber arts projects are your students working on?

We have woven wall art all over the school! The students experiment with all different types of materials. We are almost finished weaving a very large rug for our school library. The students have been working on it for months now, and it’s been incredible to witness their perseverance on such a big project. We also have a huge mural made of recycled t-shirts that’s in the works.

Where do you find your inspiration?

For me, nature is the biggest source of inspiration. Beauty is everywhere, and you can see so many wonderful natural works of arts just by stepping outside. I’m so inspired by the colors and textures of plants. I also find inspiration in other forms of art.

What drives your studio practice now?

I love working closely with clients to create custom weavings. Bringing their vision to life, and seeing the joy it brings them is so fulfilling. I truly enjoy the process so much. On the opposite end of that, I immensely enjoy creating weavings for the sole purpose of expressing myself. Weaving has been therapeutic for me, and I could lose myself for hours working on a project and listening to music. The repetitive nature of weaving helps me feel calm and centered. My husband and I have an almost three-year-old son so I am always pretty busy, but you can find me on the loom every chance I get.

How do you feel about the arts opportunities in the region?

I am so grateful to the opportunities and support of the arts in the region. The Arts Council in particular has not only provided me with a platform to share my work, but also helped me access so many resources to help me grow and gain confidence as an artist.

What's coming up that has you jazzed?

I always have a mile-long list of new things to try and techniques to learn. The on-going joke is that my brain is a never-ending tornado of ideas! One thing at the top of the list is improving my skills in making handwoven rugs. I’d also like to start incorporating freeform crochet and knitting in some of my weavings. I would really love to do several big installation pieces! I enjoy working on big scale projects. Maybe even teaching a few weaving classes. The sky is the limit! In general, I am looking forward to what the rest of 2019 has in store for me and MoonDust Weavings!

Where can folks go to see your work online & in person?

I am pretty active on Facebook and Instagram @MoonDustWeavings . I am also on Etsy @MoonDustWeavings. I currently have a weaving on display at the Firehouse Gallery for the Artists in the Classroom exhibit.