When silversmith Ruth Von Büren enrolled in her first metalwork classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology after coming to the U.S., she hardly spoke any English. It turned out not to matter because neither did the teacher. “A famous silversmith from Denmark was the teacher,” she says. “Since he couldn’t speak much English, he’d show us how to do something, and then we’d try to do the same.”
To look at artist Heidi Marie Balmaceda’s paintings, you’d never guess she once avoided working with color. “I was actually terrified of working with color,” she says. “I thought it was scary and complicated. Then about a year and a half ago, I got a 4-foot by 4-foot canvas and painted it metallic gold. I went to a crafts store and found some gold leaf and began to play with it.”
Painter Kevin Noonan’s interest in art began in childhood. "My grandfather is a gifted folk-art painter, so I grew up around painting," says the Connecticut native, who has a degree in Buddhist Studies from Antioch College in Ohio. "I got the chance to study in India and Burma, where I did meditation, but when I was there I also studied Buddhist iconography and modern Burmese painting. I even visited the state art school in Rangoon and talked to artists there."