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Mada Leach, Artist and Art Teacher

Published on 11/07/2017

What is your life’s purpose?
My life’s purpose is to live a creative life within a family and community framework.

How are you living your purpose?
I have a meaningful family life and have contributed to my community and grown as a productive, evolving artist. Over the years, I have experimented with both abstract art and photorealism. When I juried into the Festival of Arts, I exhibited photorealistic watercolors. Over my 34 years in that show, my work has evolved to include acrylics on paper and canvas, mixed media, collage, and—after I bought an etching press—monotypes and other kinds of printmaking.

Teaching has been an integral part of my life as an artist. My art, highly experimental, has always been passed on to my students, both in public schools (grades K-12) and in private venues. I have an art education degree as well as a fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago, where I have also taught.

After moving to Laguna Beach, California, I co-founded a nonprofit organization, LOCA, Laguna Outreach for Community Arts, dedicated to community art education from preschool children to seniors, as well as special needs programs. This organization is 25 years old and funded by grants to sustain professional artists who teach at all levels in Laguna Beach.

Working on printmaking with seniors in Laguna Beach

How did you find your purpose?
I have always been driven to create things. I have photos of me as a three-year-old standing very proudly in front of stacked wooden blocks, a first revelation of what I could “make.”

My passion found me at age 5 and never wavered. Since childhood, I have had a hunger to create art out of everything I could lay my hands on, from pencils to oil, watercolor, casein, egg tempera. Like a garden, your creative urges and production need constant cultivation and nurturing.

In art school, at the Art Institute of Chicago, I took all kinds of classes in painting, drawing, printmaking (we had 100 teachers on staff). I was especially interested in printmaking, lithography, etching, and wood engraving. I also snuck into the ceramics studio to learn how to throw on the wheel on my lunch hour… Eventually, I would buy my own kiln and throwing wheel for my studio.

“Ancient Horses”

What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
My best advice to anyone would be to answer your passion, be brave, learn from and welcome your failures (the best teachers), and follow your path, even with opposition. Trust your inner self.

How can you find your purpose? Listen to your own heart, be as positive as you can, laugh at your mistakes, and learn. Look at your world, a wonderful teacher, and learn from the examples around you, especially the negative ones.

Above all, share. Sharing my art is what led me to found LOCA. I have had about a dozen students who have worked with me in open workshops at my studio and on the festival grounds for years. They teach me at least as much as I teach them.

I also share my hobbies with students and friends. I am an avid reader of history—particularly archaeology—and a passionate cook of ethnic foods, using my garden fruits and vegetables year-round. In both my art and hobbies, experimentation is always primary with me.

“Northern Lights”

Connect with Mada Leach
Email: madaleach@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.madaleach.com/
Laguna Outreach for Community Arts

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