Annie Ferris recounts the change that launched her creative career.
Annie Ferris with former art student Dexter Taylor. Ferris teaches children’s art classes at her studio in the Carriage House at the Tulsa Garden Center.
There’s a popular saying about things that go awry: “When a door closes, a window opens.”
Tulsa artist Annie Ferris knows that lesson well. In 2007, she made the decision to leave an expressive therapy graduate program at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts — “a program my husband, Scott, and I had upturned our lives to attend but financially couldn’t sustain,” she says.
“Moving home without completing the program was terribly defeating for me,” Ferris continues. “But, on this side of things, it is clear that it was the best thing to happen.”
The move turned Ferris’ professional life around, an experience that she says “allowed me an opportunity to develop a different kind of creativity that forces you to sculpt alternate avenues to attain your professional goals.”
What’s the scoop on your new studio, where you also host your popular art classes for children? In January, I moved into the upstairs studio space in the Carriage House at the Tulsa Garden Center. My husband, daughter and I spent the spring making it suitable and inspiring for myself and about 200 children to create this summer. I feel lucky to have found a lively space with such a rich history — and of course, the garden views aren’t so shabby either.
Also, you are now art director at Global Gardens. How did that come about? In 2007, after a winter of good plans that went sour, I found myself back in Tulsa and working at Eugene Field Elementary School as a truancy officer. That is a laughable statement on so many levels, but primarily because I am the last person to make it anywhere on time.
During that stint, I found myself escaping as much as possible to the onsite children’s garden — the Global Gardens. Here, I found my smile again and a renewed inspiration to create. My time in the garden led me to begin painting again at home, and I ended up with a collection of new paintings all based on the garden at Eugene Field.
A couple of months later, I had a show at the Palace Café and invited Global Gardens founder Heather Oakley and the gardens’ students. They came, and I left that night with a nearly sold-out show and a new job.
We know you are busy creating this year’s holiday gift to clients of your mother’s (Becky Frank’s) public relations firm, Schnake Turnbo Frank. We are going on 12 years. … That first year was a bit of a nightmare as we had yet to learn the ins and outs of bulk production, and I literally painted canvases with the same image, which were packaged and delivered to the firm’s entire client base.
Fortunately, the second year we got a handle on product reproduction services, and now the process (on ceramic tiles) is done with ease. I will say without hesitation that I love this project.
What new projects have come about through your children’s art classes? During spring break 2014, I decided to offer two impromptu children’s art classes … They were successful, and before I knew it I was off on an unexpected new adventure. I am also starting to bring my art classes into local elementary schools as an after-school program, which led to starting my own business, called MAKE LLC (an acronym for Modern Art for Kiddos Everywhere). And I am in the process of creating a new side-by-side family art experience called The StoryMAKEr Project.
No doubt about it, this year has been a whirlwind … the really good kind.
Visit www.annieferris.com for more information.