Amber Cipriani is the new owner and art instructor at Electric City Art Studio located in the Marketplace at Steamtown. She runs the studio, which offers classes for preschoolers through adults, with the support and help of her boyfriend, Norman Brown. The Drums native also is an elementary school art teacher in Hazleton Area School District. She received a bachelor’s degree in art education from Marywood University and a master’s degree in education from King’s College. She lives in Scranton.
Meet Amber Cipriani…
Q: What it is like teaching art at your alma mater?
A: I love being an art teacher. I’ve always been interested in art of any medium. It started in high school. My high school art teacher was a huge influence. We called her “The Art Room Mom.” My home school hired me, and I’ve been there since. I’m on year five.
Q:What is it like to teach such fundamentals of art?
A: Having them learn the elements of art and the different parts of art and a little art history, it’s all about the creative process. I like to base my projects on an artist or a certain painting so they get a little information. It’s a lot of fun having them use different mediums and play.
Q:What message do you hope to communicate to the public about art?
A: Creativity is everything. The creative process helps kids turn into who they are. It helps kids with communication skills, socialization, creativity and even some math is thrown in there. It helps with all aspects of a child’s growth.
Q:Describe the projects you hope to see completed through Electric City Art Studio.
A:I’m going to try and change it up all the time to keep people interested. If I offer the same things over and over, that wouldn’t be my style. I’d like to try new things and bring new ideas to the studio. I want to take suggestions from people and give people what they want and what the kids want.
Q:Tell me about your own work and style as an artist.
A: A lot of people ask me to make different things, so I make what people want. My most recent is murals. I painted the mural at Center City Wine Cellar. I just finished a few weeks ago. I recently won the “Your Art Here” contest, which is a mural I painted on the second floor here (at the Public Marketplace.) They’re very time consuming. I sell some paintings during First Friday. I was into fluid painting for a while. I’ve done them on large canvases. I’ve also started making my own jewelry with different kinds of stones and Brazilian stones. I make a lot of wreaths for people for different occasions, too.
Q:What types of classes do you teach?
A: Everything from pre-K all the way up to adults and a glass of wine. Every class will be structured by age. I’ll do messy playtime, sensory nights for special-education students and adults, paint and sip nights, adult and children workshops, drawing, summer camps and open studio which is a cheaper options for kids who want to come in and do their own thing.
Q:What is the most rewarding part about teaching?
A: The finished product and the smile on the kids’ faces. I’ve taught everything from kindergarten up to graduate students. Even on a graduate student’s face — when I challenge them with something to make, and the end product puts a smile on their face — that puts a smile on my face.
Q:What is something that challenges you as an art teacher?
A:I think my biggest challenge right now is just how many kids and different abilities there are in a classroom at the same time and trying to get to every student in the 40-minute time period. It’s definitely challenging because you want to help every single kid but sometimes it’s just not possible. Doing small group class and keeping it around eight students is what I’d like to do for the art studio, so I can help every single student. I see about 600 students a week, and it’s hard to get to every single kid. Some of them I only see once a week, and that doesn’t help the kids who are really into art.
Q:Art you part of any community organizations or groups?
A: I have an after-school art club with seventh and eighth-graders. We meet once a month and do different projects that we can’t really do in a classroom setting. I also do a community service club and run a fitness club. I like to throw art in there somehow, so we’ll make decorations for the nursing home or local businesses. We recently did painted rocks with positive messages and put them around the community. I’m also trying to get involved with a lot of local businesses. I’m pairing up with Paradise Sweets for my summer camp. They’ll provide the lunches for the kids. The paint and sip nights will be booked with Center City Wine Cellar. I think getting everyone else involved is important.
Q:What has been your biggest art accomplishment you’ve had?
A:The mural contest here (“Your Art Here”) opened up a lot of opportunity for me and got my name out there. It sort of set everything off.
Q:What other hobbies and interests do you have?
A:I like to be outdoors. I have a stand-up paddle board, and we have kayaks, and we like to take the dogs out on walks. I’m in the gym every day and enjoy keeping active. I’m a huge beach person, so any chance I have to get to the beach is a good time, too.
Q: Can you pinpoint a time or event in your life that helped shape the person you are today?
A:My advisor at Marywood, Ann Marie Castelgrande. She was my art mom in college. She really helped shape who I am today; everything creative, educational, business, everything. To this day, if I text her, she’s still there to answer me. She talked to everyone and treated us like we were her children. She has been so influential with everything.
Q:Do you have anything else to add?
A: I’m excited for the kids to come in and show their creativity and get messy and learn about all the different materials you can use for art and see where things go.