University of Pittsburgh
Studio Arts

Faculty Profile

Lenore Thomas, Assistant Professor, has been teaching in the Studio Arts Department since 2007. She is preparing for a solo exhibition in January at the Haydon Art Center in Lincoln, Nebraska and spent her summer at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.

What degrees do you have, and from where?
I have a BA in Studio Arts and a BA in Religious Studies, both from Lawrence University. I have my MFA in Fine Art with a concentration in Printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I also have my certification to teach K-12 Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Area of teaching/area of creative work?
I teach Screen Print and Intaglio, as well as Foundation Drawing. I also teach Directed Study in Printmaking. My creative work uses screen print and intaglio combined with painting, drawing and digital media. The more concise way to say it is that my creative work is mixed media.

How did you become interested in your field?
As an undergraduate, one of my professors suggested I might like printmaking. I am not sure how she knew this, but she was right. I guess she could see that I like process - printmaking can be very process oriented. I also did metalsmithing at the time. I see these two media having similar qualities.

How did your educational trajectory evolve?
After I graduated from Lawrence University, I took more classes in printmaking, as it was not offered much in my undergraduate school. At some point I felt like I wanted a “real” job, so I became certified to teach K-12 Art and started teaching 3-5 grade art at Marquette Elementary school in Madison, Wisconsin. I did that for a few years. At some point it became difficult for me to make art during this period. This was an extremely frustrating time in my life and it was like something was dying inside of me. I then knew I was ready for graduate school. Not making art is immensely depressing for most artists.

Who were the biggest influences when you were a student, and why?
My mother has always been a strong influence on me. She is a strong woman. She taught middle school, raised three kids alone and somehow managed to go to graduate school and get multiple degrees, all at the same time. I also had two undergraduate professors who are incredible people. They were amazing women, teachers and mentors. They all instilled a strong work ethic in me, as well as the confidence needed to be a practicing artist. I feel very lucky to have had such amazing women in my life.

What are the challenges and perspectives you bring to the classroom as a working artist?
As a student I always loved that my teachers were practicing artists. Going to their shows and seeing their work was exciting and gave me a glimpse into a world I was aiming to be a part of. I hope that the students at Pitt get the same from their professors. Also, as an active research artist I bring my research, be it new techniques or concepts, back to the classroom. The hardest thing about being both an artist and a teacher is to find balance between doing my creative research and being an effective and involved teacher.

What does teaching at Pitt, or in a liberal arts environment, offer you that is unique?
The students have such diverse knowledge. I love that they bring perspectives outside of art into the work they do. I also went to a liberal arts undergraduate school, so I have great appreciation for the well-rounded student. Pitt has amazing students.

What are you currently working on?
I have several projects I am working on currently. I have some mixed media pieces that are stemming from white on white work I have been exploring. I am also starting some editions for upcoming portfolio exchange projects. I am continuing to work on my collaborative project, Satan’s Camaro, with fellow printmaker Justin Strom. We are in several shows before the end of the year and are going to do a print project with the students at East Carolina University in September. Lastly, I am finishing up a three-month residency at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha. I have been working on a new body of work at Bemis dealing with ideas of space in the sense of compression and expansion not in a linear perspective way. The work is also exploring Midwestern based imagery from my childhood in Wisconsin. I am still figuring out what it is exactly all about, but those are the general ideas I am working with right now.

What personal hobbies/activities do you enjoy?
I love high fashion, movies, music, anything pop culture and of course my dog, Vader. I also run an online gallery called Red Rocket with a friend to help promote emerging artists. I have to say I spend a lot of time doing art, looking at art, talking about art and being around art. If I had endless money, I would spend time shopping for beautiful mid-century modern furniture and décor, as well as fantastic clothes and shoes. For me fashion and design are very much a part of my art making. Perhaps first and foremost, I love being with friends, family and walking my dog at Frick Park.