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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW student receives honor of painting mural

NW+student+receives+honor+of+painting+mural

By Tabitha Redder/nw news editor

Crystal Chinea/The Collegian  NW student Suzie Leiber was talked out of majoring in art by her family and majored in English though art always played a big role in her life. She has now been recognized as an artist on NW Campus with one of her murals in the new experiential classroom.
Crystal Chinea/The Collegian NW student Suzie Leiber was talked out of majoring in art by her family and majored in English though art always played a big role in her life. She has now been recognized as an artist on NW Campus with one of her murals in the new experiential classroom.

Somewhere within the NW Campus Fine Arts building, a student is roaming the hallways living her dream of re-enrolling in school to study art.

NW student Suzie Leiber is finally indulging in her true passion after a career of teaching English as a plan B.

“I’ve been into art for many years, and my youngest daughter went off to college this year,” she said, beaming. “I was like, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to go back to school too!’”

Leiber’s passion for art never faltered, but life delayed her re-enrollment in school.

“I never really have given up on the dream of art, but I was always like ‘Someday, someday, someday,’” she said. “When the kids got older, they kept me busier and busier, and I didn’t put myself as a top priority … but the years fly by, so now I am.”

Her “someday” began last semester when the NW art department held 4 Corners, a student art competition that Leiber both entered and won. The prize was the chance to paint a temporary mural on one of the four walls in the Lakeview Gallery.

When her work caught the eye of the NW humanities dean Lisa Benedetti at the artists’ reception, she was asked to paint a more permanent mural in the new experiential classroom in the Fine Arts Building.

“When you look at her artwork, it’s such a beautiful collaboration between math and art,” Benedetti said. “We thought, ‘Wait, this would be amazing in our experiential learning classroom!’”

The mural in the classroom is geometric with triangles in a wide array of colors. Leiber had to use tools to calculate and create precise lines on the wall before she could paint.

“There was a lot of math involved in this,” she said of the mural. “And it was a matter of picking fun colors.”

In the design of the mural, Leiber mimicked the gray tones that were already in the room as well as colors that didn’t complement the gray, like yellow.

“The effect is that it looks like there’s some light reflection going on ,especially if you’re in the room looking at it,” she said of the yellow and gold shades in the mural.

Leiber credits her introduction in art to her uncle who was a contemporary artist in Houston.

“He would always give me these little black blank sketchbooks,” she said. “He would never just give me the kid’s version. He would give me the artist’s version … real artist drawing pencils, real erasers. He was always very encouraging. I started drawing, painting and dabbling in a lot of different media because of him.”

Growing up, Leiber said her family was supportive of her art until she neared the end of high school.

“My mess was always on the table where we were trying to set the table for dinner, but I don’t remember ever getting in trouble for that kind of stuff,” she recalled about her painting supplies. “Until it was time to go to college, I didn’t get discouraged about it. When I was growing up, they loved it. I guess they just didn’t want me to be the ‘starving artist.’”

Leiber said she was dispirited when her plan of attending an art school didn’t work out and she ended up going to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville near her hometown of Houston.

“My family talked me out of majoring in art,” she said. “People didn’t see that as a viable way to make a living or that was viewed back in the ’80s as more of a hobby.”

Ultimately, she earned an English degree with a minor in business, but art never strayed far from her mind. Leiber painted pieces with watercolors for family and friends in her spare time while she taught.

“I’ve been wanting to learn oil painting, but I didn’t want to do something like paint-by-numbers,” Leiber said of her reasoning for enrolling in Advanced Painting II. “I wanted to do something intensive and something at more of an advanced level.”

Art associate professor John Hartley, who teaches Leiber’s Advanced Painting II class, is sure of her future success.

“Suzie is a model student because she’s got this incredible work ethic, and along with that, she has a genuine interest in art,” he said. “Put those two together, and you have someone that’s going to be successful.”

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