The Needham Merchants Association's brings together local artists, businesses and organizations in an effort to draw more people downtown and encourage them to shop local.
Placed throughout downtown Needham, each Adirondack chair has its own theme and was painted by a local artist. The chairs will be auctioned off at an event in September, with proceeds to benefit town beautification projects and local students.
Needham Patch will be profiling some of the artists behind these creations throughout the summer. This week, we chat with Robyn Briggs, whose "Wizard of Oz" chair can be seen at .
For a full list of chairs, artists and locations, .
Title: "The Wizard of Oz"
Artist: Robyn Briggs
Sponsored by: Michelson's Shoes
Find it at: , 1082 Great Plain Ave.
Why did you decide to participate in this project? I decided to participate in this project because my brother-in-law, Eric Michelson, co-owner of Michelson's Shoes, asked me very nicely if I wanted to be the artist for his stores chair. Of course, I couldn't say no!
What was your inspiration for the piece? I really wanted to have something that tied shoes in with the piece somehow, as it was sponsored by Michelson's and I thought that would be fitting, but I wasn't quite sure how that would work with my style of art and design. So I started looking into themes that had to do with shoes and came up with "The Wizard of Oz."
Each piece of the chair represents different parts of the story, from the witch's striped stockings and ruby slippers to Dorothy's checkered dress to the yellow brick road and the Emerald City.
Describe your background as an artist: I knew I wanted to be a designer when I was introduced to graphic design in high school (!). The computer had just taken off, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop were relatively new programs that intrigued me. I took as many courses as NHS offered in this and from there went on to get my BA at the University of Maryland in Art Studio. There, I was introduced to the world of art—drawing, painting, sculpture, art history and, of course, my favorite: graphic design.
Once out of school, I worked as a contractor and graphic designer for the Army, where I met my husband, and discovered that people like bad art—more specifically, bad design. Frustrated with this new realization, I decided to go back to school and become an art teacher. I really wanted to help people see and design good art and also be able to recognize that bad art and give them the tools to fix this.
I recently received my M.Ed in Art Education from Framingham State University (2010), where I have really learned to embrace my own art in all different mediums.
I'm now an art teacher at Needham High School and have been teaching there for seven years. I recently took the position of head of the graphic arts and production there, where we make and design all kinds of graphics work for the schools and the community.
What is your medium of choice? One of my favorite materials to work with while in school was wood, and I have made many wood cuts and sculptures with this material. However, now I tend to dabble in all kinds of mediums from fabric to paint to photography to design. I love working with my hands, and I am always on the lookout for new things to do and to make.
Where can someone see more of your work? You can visit my website, www.robynbriggs.com, and I keep a blog of my recent artwork: http://robyn-briggs.blogspot.com/.