Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
As the owner of Studio 34, Marilynne Lipshutz considers herself an example of "allowing the process." As with her students work, she knows the importance of trusting yourself, trying something new, and ultimately allowing the process of learning and creating to take you on a journey.
“Sometimes students want to make something that looks like what an advance level artist may have made, but they need to learn the basic skills. The pleasure of teaching comes from helping people discover that they can do that—with patience,” says Marilynne.
Studio 34 Creative Arts Center, located in Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts, is the only public access studio in New York State to offer a diverse selection different art mediums. Known for small class sizes, Studio 34 insures the student-teacher ratio maximizes learning and safety. Studio 34 offers over 200 different classes and a place for artists and students from around the world to attend classes or enjoy open studio where they can rent bench space, kilns, and torches.
Before Studio 34, Marilynne was a psychotherapist and registered nurse who discovered her passion for glass making while looking for a creative outlet to relieve stress. She started in a rented studio the size of a closet. Once she decided she wanted to do glass full time and teach, Studio 34 was created. Marilynne says she’s always been a natural teacher, having taught everything from swimming to first aid and skiing since she was a teenager.
“What began as a hobby turned into a busy teaching schedule as more people discovered they could learn glass art, too. Now I teach glass blowing, flamework, fusing, and wire techniques,” says Marilynne.
In addition to classes she teaches, she has a faculty of 32 artists from all over the world who offer classes in stained glass, metalsmith, precious metal clay, enamels, sculpture, chainmaille, wire jewelry techniques, digital photography, ceramics, and more. With their diverse backgrounds (one has his PhD in glass engineering!), places to call home (Tokyo, France, Germany, South Africa), and artistic methods (glass beads, figures, and sculptures), each teacher provides their own expertise and perspective to the classes.
Marilynne’s standards for her teachers are high, which is evident by the collections of work dotting every nook in the studio and her dedication to the teacher mentorship program she’s created. She prioritizes students having a safe, fun experience where they have the freedom to learn and explore a new medium.
“We want [students] to give themselves permission to just enjoy the process. We have to remind them that as with learning to play an instrument, start with the basics, and to allow themselves that same openness,” says Marilynne. “We do classes where the project is ambiguous because sometimes a sculpture that starts out as a bird, is meant to be a frog. Allow the process.”
Her gift to students is the time and space to create something, even if it doesn’t turn out as expected. With glass, things very rarely come out as you picture.
Sign up for a class at Studio 34 with Marilynne and create something unexpected.