Idyllwild Arts graduate Richelle Gribble returns to teach

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Richelle Gribble Photo courtesy Richelle Gribble

Richelle Gribble, townie, hillbilly and optimist, is a 2013 bachelor’s of fine arts graduate of the University of Southern California with a minor in social entrepreneurship and marketing. She went to Idyllwild Arts for high school, completing in 2009 what she called an immersion in making art that continues to influence her today. For the fall semester just concluded, she returned to teach six classes at Idyllwild Arts, sharing with her students both her optimism and her approach to creating art.

She concluded her IA teaching semester with a talk and presentation of her artwork and process, at a campus lecture attended mostly by visual arts students. She called her talk, “The Sky is Not the Limit,” which characterizes how she has navigated combining a university education and producing a prodigious body of work for which she has received many honors.

“I had worried I would just disappear at USC,” said Gribble, accustomed to a small school and life in distinctly non-urban and small-town-friendly Idyllwild. Instead, once at USC, Gribble became an arts organizer and trailblazer, making art more available to the wider campus by starting the first USC Art Festival, being the first student to have major showings and exhibitions from sophomore through senior years, being selected as one of seven graduate and undergraduate USC students to deliver a TEDx Trousdale talk about her passion for art and social connectedness, “What is Our Role Within a Networked Society?” and sitting on advisory boards, the USC Academic Affairs Committee and the USC Trustee Conference Panel. She was also the student commencement speaker at the USC Roski School of Art and Design in 2013.

Even with all her organizational and outreach activity at USC, she created an amazing portfolio of art, wide in scope and theme. Visit her website, www.richelle-gribble.com, to see how much quality art she created while a full-time student.

Richelle Gribble Photo courtesy Richelle Gribble

“Our Humanity” by Richelle Gribble will be launched into space next year. Photo courtesy Richelle Gribble

About her teaching at IA, Gribble said she teaches through doing, sharing her processes with her students and stressing to just do it, not spend time thinking about the project and self-editing.

Gribble describes how connectivity is such an important filter for her in pursuing art. “I like to weave in technology, connecting disparate topics — people, imagery, objects,” she said. “I use art as an outlet to explore connectivity.” One thing she instructs her students is to “constantly connect as you go,” observing carefully what is around them.

“For instance, a cracked pattern in pavement could be a neural network,” she noted, stressing how to incorporate what exists around us into very personal artwork that directly connects to the world. She suggests an approach for creating art that is connected and highly personal: to be in what she calls a “flow state,” an executory non-judgmental state of making art, letting it flow; to just make work, don’t spend endless time planning and worrying about what it will or should be, just make it. She suggested then that the art created in this state helps the individual understand what the art means, as well as their process and who they are as an individual artist; and lastly, share.

She said it is important to consider who your audience is, otherwise you are creating in a vacuum, pleasing yourself perhaps but not tapping into what is happening in the world and what is of interest to others. “You have a social responsibility as an artist to consider your audience — that is the sharing,” she said.

“It is the act of creativity that reveals to us what we have inside,” she said. “

When the self-editing shuts down, that’s where you can extract your core values as a person. I learned how to do that at IA with hours and hours of repetition, the act of doing.”

And even if the sky were the limit, the atmosphere is not. Gribble said that in February, a piece of her artwork is being sent into space as part of a private rocket launch in Texas.

“This was one of the things on my bucket list,” she said. “I tell my students that with art you must be both logical and strategic on how to get your art out there, but you must also always preserve the dream inside. Vocalize your dream to others and live as a test to see if being a dreamer is really possible.”

One might think that with the accolades and accomplishments Gribble has amassed to date, she might have an elevated opinion of herself. Instead, she is humble, extraordinarily thoughtful, engaging and respectful.

And she is just beginning what is already an extraordinary career. The next project, one she thinks is kind of scary, is to open an art and science workplace in Seattle. “There is currently no existing art and tech space there,” she said. She’ll be working with Aerospace Engineer Tim Ellis to create this interface between art and technology.

“We want to grab the concepts of connection, to explore the wonder of creating visual poetry and ultimately, celebrating our humanity. The workplace will become a teaching space.”

And Richelle Gribble has much to share, to show and to teach.

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