Member Spotlight - April 2021

Louise Grissinger


After high school, Louise enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a certification in Art Education. She especially found the art therapy classes she took to be interesting and inspiring. After graduating from SAIC, Louise worked as an art therapist with patients at Downey Veterans Hospital in the Great Lakes Naval Training Base in North Chicago. Her work at the base helped her understand the “intricate and fragile nature of the human spirit. Introducing art to the patients was like shining a bright light into their darkness.”


When the hospital art program closed due to budget cuts, Louise began her career in the interior design industry. Eventually she began hand painting high-end fabrics that were often used to create garments for celebrities like Barbra Streisand and Cher. After Louise married, she continued painting fabric as a free-lancer and also starting painting unique wall murals. In search of a steadier income, she began working for Marshall Fields as a “visual merchandiser”, creating window displays, dressing manikins and table top displays, and working with special events like the store’s annual spring flower show extravaganza.

Eventually, Louise decided to return to her educational training and teach art in the public school system and student art workshops. She “embraced the endeavor of teaching as her life’s goal; to work with people of all ages and abilities”. Louise believed that helping students explore and develop their creative potential and to “see their spirits flourish” became a way that she could “contribute something of value to the world.” A key component of Louise’s philosophy of life is that “being creative is one of the most important attributes we have as human beings, and it is the emotional backbone that is vital to our communication with one another and for survival.” Early on, Louise’s father shared with her a quotation from The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, an artist and educator whom he admired, and it has remained a cornerstone to her teaching philosophy:


“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.”


Louise applied her philosophy and experience to developing new courses and programs at Geneva High School where she taught for 17 years. She worked with beginning, intermediate and advanced students in a diverse number of disciplines and championed participation in extracurricular experiences. By doing so, she encouraged her students to find and develop their artistic voices and to gain confidence in both art and “non-art” classes. The art program flourished as well as the enriching fieldtrips, district-wide art activities and community-school based partnerships and projects. Annual GHS art shows and festivals enlisted other school faculty, students, guest artists and community members in celebrating the visual and performing arts in Geneva. Louise felt it was very rewarding to teach a subject that opens minds to a new world of ideas. The visual arts open doors and allow young people to explore their imaginations and abilities while unlocking the bounty and richness of the world. Many students found their artistic voice through their art experiences and have continued to create both personally and professionally after graduation.


As the art program progressed at GHS, Raku firings were added to the ceramics area and became a popular component of the curriculum. Louise engaged Joe and Manny Hernandez as teaching artists and sought a venue that would allow the program to expand. This led to a partnership with Fine Line where students attended an all day fieldtrip at FL to experience the Raku firing of their bisque ware in conjunction with taking another hands on workshop such as glass lampwork or screenprinting.


Louise found that her exploration of media and processes provided resources to share with students while also allowing her to develop her own creative expressions. She especially enjoyed pursuing photography and ceramics, and found that when she retired from teaching at GHS she had time to pursue these disciplines in depth. She has taken many ceramic classes at Fine Line with Jodi, and feels there is always something new to learn by getting to know the other people in class. Beginning in 2020, Louise was asked to teach part-time for the John C. Dunham Stem Partnership School at Aurora University. The experience of teaching students in grades 3 – 8 remotely has been challenging, but also rewarding, and she continues to find new topics and projects to engage her students.


Louise has had her work included in many area art venues including Norris Galleries at the Norris Cultural Arts Center, Batavia Fine Arts Gallery, Dr. Scholl Gallery at Marmion Academy, Steel Beam Theatre Gallery, the former Campbell House Gallery in Geneva, Hinsdale Arts Center, College of DuPage Spring Arts Fair, Greater Geneva Artists’ Guild premiere show, A& D Gallery at Columbia College - Chicago, and the Chicago Artists’ Coalition – Chicago Art Open at Navy Pier. Louise has had her artwork included

in numerous interior and architectural design publications, and has presented workshops for the Illinois Art Education Association as well as a visiting artist for the the SEA Charter High School in Compton, Los Angeles, California.


At Fine Line, in addition to being a long-standing member and student, Louise also volunteers on the Kavanagh Gallery Committee and participates in Fine Line activities. She continues to personify Robert Henri’s observation that:  “I am interested in art as a means of living a life, not as a means of making a living.”