Monday, February 28, 2011

Teresa Sullivan

As a shy, intense kid, I drew almost constantly, created cartoons, and listened to a lot of music. My Dad knew he could keep me happy with scratch paper and felt pens when I visited his office and my Mom knew she could keep getting me to go to church if I got to sing. Since grade school, art and music along with biking and hiking, was a life saver as my family life turned chaotic.

I was a late-blooming rebel, maintaing a grade A average while discovering punk rock and more diverse art. In college I started playing electric bass guitar, co-founding a band called Living Eyes which self-released a 45rpm single in 1989 and still plays live. Although my artwork mostly centered on the band’s show flyers for a time, around 1991 a combination of forces led me to re-embrace art through the medium of beads.

I lived walking distance from a bead store; after having my ears pierced I began making earrings to wear. Then our drummer gave me a box of beads a roommate left behind, and I received a bag of raw earthenware from the tile factory where I worked. I began making beads out of the clay, trading them at the local bead store, and joined the Portland (Oregon) Bead Society.

I fell in love with trade beads, their history, and the challenges of designing with them. Then Joyce Scott’s expressive artwork fired up my interest in seed bead weaving. I realized I could do a lot more than make pleasant things with beads. I began expressing my love of the surreal and the irreverent. The first seed-bead artwork I made is a three-dimensional eyeball with trailing optic nerve.

Inspired by Joyce’s example and that of renowned glass artist Paul Stankard, I slowly but surely transitioned from punching a time clock to a living derived from making and teaching.

I have held workshops since 1997 in Alaska, up and down the West Coast, and from Chicago to Dallas. Exhibiting since 1995, my artwork has been seen in Tokyo, Washington, D.C., and New York City. My first museum solo exhibit, “Station Identification”, debuted at Mesa Arts Center in 2010.

My work has been featured in Ornament, Beadwork and Fiberarts magazines; Lark Books’ 500 Beaded Objects, Kate McKinnon’s The Jewelry Architect, author Garth Johnson’s 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, and TV program AM Northwest. Visit to see me create a 3-dimensional head, to see me on TV, and to view more artwork.

I have found that whether you want to create art for fun, for a living, or just to stay sane, it brings out your special magic.

Teresa Sullivan creates intricate and monumental sculpture and sculptural jewelry from humble materials using the ancient technique of beadweaving, revealing her love of the surreal and the irreverent.

Her work has been shown since 1995 across the US and abroad, including a Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art invitational in 2008, and a solo exhibit, “Station Identification”, at Mesa Arts Center in 2010. Her work was featured in Vol. 33, No. 3 (April 2010) issue of Ornament magazine.

Teresa Sullivan’s work is also found in 500 Beaded Objects, 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, The Jewelry Architect; and Beadwork, CRAFT, and Fiberarts magazines.

We are pleased and honored to have classes by Teresa Sullivan at

1 comment:

  1. Teresa's work is so inspiring! Having met her briefly last year, I can attest that she is as genuinely nice as she is talented. It's great to see her featured here.