The lace-like ruffles, the leafy skirts, the frills and layers of the dresses made by Carrie Ann Schumacher make her work instantly appealing. I’ve found that students find her work truly engaging and she is a fantastic starting point for all sorts of art projects.
I was surprised to learn that Schumacher’s background is in Digital Media and she now teaches Computer Art in Chicago, although she also has an M.F.A. in painting. You can learn more about her background on her website, the link to which is below.
In the meantime, I was more interested in chatting with her about what her art education was like at school, and what advice she would give to students who were interested in making work like hers. This is what she told me…
Were you interested in art at school?
I was always interested in art. It was my favorite subject in school, though from K-8, I only had it once a week. It was also what I did in my free time as a kid and a teenager. You could always find my drawing or writing or making some kind of craft project. When I was 7 or 8, I created a huge Halloween display for the front window of my house. I mean, I filled every available bit of empty space. I’m also thinking back to when I made costumes out of construction paper for a play in second grade; maybe that was a bit of foreshadowing…
Was your art teacher an influence on you?
All my art teachers were an influence on me. I was lucky to have some terrific ones who really mentored me, and I still keep in touch. I also had some not so great ones. They taught me that while encouragement is great, you still have to believe in yourself and have that confidence because there will be times when no one else will do that for you.
Do you make any other kind of art?
I still paint and make soft sculptures. I also wrote and illustrated a graphic novel that I don’t think will ever get published. There isn’t a lot of interest in my other work.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I do not- I wish I did! I tend to just dive in. I really should keep one now, as I tend to forget ideas.
What practical advice would you give students who were trying to make work inspired by yours?
There’s no right or wrong way to do it- you simply have to find what works for you. I went through a lot of trial and error before I found what worked for me. For instance, my friend tried to teach me to make origami flowers, and it was a disaster! I had to learn my own way to make flowers; I’m much happier with the results. Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you fail, it’s not a big deal. No one ever died from bad art.
Click the images below to find out more about the Paper Costume unit of work inspired by Carrie Ann Schumacher or the free presentation on Carrie Ann Schumacher.