Winston-Salem did not become the “City of Arts and Innovation” by accident. Our community boasts a large number of people actively engaged in the arts along with a broad and diverse range of performing, visual, and literary arts organizations. Sawtooth School for Visual Art is the incubator for the visual arts in Winston-Salem, creating and developing future artists, art lovers, and collectors. This series spotlights different art students at Sawtooth, exploring their stories of how art impacts them personally and what that means for the community.
Elizabeth Repetti – Making Art is her ‘Me Time’
As a commercial attorney at Bell, Davis and Pitt, Elizabeth Repetti spends much of her work day on the phone or on her computer. “I know the work I am doing makes a difference, but I cannot immediately see the tangible results,” she said. “When I go into the ceramics or wood studio at Sawtooth School,” she continued, “I can watch the clay or the wood take shape as I work with it, and that is rewarding to me.”
When Elizabeth was a child in Colorado Springs, her mother sent her and her two older sisters to art camp several summers. “My sisters were good. I was bad…but I enjoyed it,” she laughed. “I think maybe I was a late bloomer.” Elizabeth moved to Winston-Salem in 1980 and went to law school at Wake Forest. She married Wrennie Pitt in 1988 and they had twin sons in 1990. When the time came to choose a summer camp for her boys, she did not think twice. “It had to be Camp Sawtooth,” she said. “I really enjoyed those summer art camps and learned to appreciate visual arts when I was young, and I wanted my children to have a similar experience.”
While her husband was on a weekend getaway with the twins in 1998, Elizabeth decided to reconnect with her creativity by taking a floorcloth class at Sawtooth with Kathy Cooper. Shortly after that, she signed up for a 4-week introductory drawing class. “I started out with no drawing skills, but the instructor literally opened my eyes to see things in a way that allowed me to draw them, recognizing and capturing shadows and light,” Elizabeth recalled. The koala she sketched in this class was selected for Sawtooth’s student show later that year.
Elizabeth continued sampling a variety of classes and art forms at Sawtooth until she landed in Ron Embry’s beginning ceramics class. She quickly moved from beginner to the intermediate/advanced classes. “I really felt like I had found my niche in ceramics,” she said. Over the years, Elizabeth has mastered many skills and ceramics techniques and, along the way, developed her own style. Her work was featured for the third consecutive year in Sawtooth’s Deck the Halls annual holiday sale of fine crafts and art. “I have to admit, I am really proud that my work was accepted again this time around” she said. Each artist must submit samples of his or her work for a selection committee to be juried in to the show and sale. “I do not aspire to be a professional artist, so I am flattered that my work is being featured along with many of this community’s finest artists and craftsmen.”
Always ready to take on new creative challenges, Elizabeth recently completed a beginning woodworking class at Sawtooth. By the end of the class, she had learned the basic skills needed to craft a bench. “Aaron Gibbons was the instructor for this class, and like so many of the school’s faculty members, he is a talented artist himself and a very knowledgeable and patient teacher,” Elizabeth said. “Instructors like Aaron, Warren Moyer, Ron Embry, and Mary Gunyuzlu, just to name a few, are what makes Sawtooth an incredible resource to Winston-Salem’s arts community.”
Even though Elizabeth’s creativity has blossomed since those early days in art camp where her sisters outshone her, she has no plans of giving up her day job. “I would never want to put that much pressure on myself,” she explained. “Sawtooth is where I go for ‘me time’ away from the office and my responsibilities at home. Taking classes, learning new creative skills, and making art is relaxing and rewarding for me. If I depended on making art to make a living, I am afraid it would take all the fun out of it!”
Written by Kevin Mundy as seen in Winston-Salem Magazine.