Colley’s love of art lands him at Dietrich
BY PATRICK LEONARD
Wyoming County Press Examiner
The best teachers are often the ones who care passionately about the subject which they are teaching.
By that rationale, Steve Colley must be an outstanding teacher.
Colley has been the artist-in-residence at the Dietrich Theater for the past 11 years. He also holds the same position at Marywood University, where he has been for 21 years.
In his double roles as artist-in-residence, Colley has the opportunity of spending a great deal of his time teaching others as a way of passing on his love for art. It is a role that he truly relishes.
“I think a good teacher continuously learns from his students,” Colley said recently from his art room at the Dietrich. “Sometimes my students have better ideas than I do. They come into our classes with such enthusiasm that it is impossible not to share some great ideas.”
Colley teaches between seven and nine classes a week at the Dietrich. He said that his students’ ages range anywhere from four to 72.
“My goal was always to be a teacher,” Colley said, noting that both of his parents were teachers themselves. “I think it is important to share the talents that you have.”
Growing up in Danbury, Conn., Colley, now 50, said that he was interested in art from a very young age.
“I was always drawing or making things out of clay,” Colley said. “It was a good way for me to keep busy and I think working with my hands helped to calm me down.”
Colley went to high school in Connecticut before attending the University of Massachusetts and the Parsons New School for Design in New York City.
He said that he is fortunate to have had many good teachers throughout his days as a student and beyond.
“After graduate school, I worked at the Metropolitan in New York,” Colley stated. “I was very lucky to learn from Nell Blaine. She taught me a lot, mostly about the business side of art. I was pretty naïve about it at the time.”
One of the things that Blaine told Colley was that it might be a wise decision to move out of New York City, at least for a little while.
“I was living in an apartment in New Jersey at the time,” Colley remembers. “There were at least two artists living on every floor. It’s very tough to get noticed in the city when there are so many artists there. I decided it would be better to live somewhere else, both for my career and for my family.”
Colley and his wife, Amy Griffith, whom he met as a student at UMass, settled into Wyoming County.
Soon after, Colley landed his teaching job at Marywood where he teaches 3-D design classes to freshmen. It is an area which has always interested him, but one to which he has become more devoted over the past year.
“I’m not doing as much painting now as I used to,” Colley said of his major as an undergraduate student. “Since the flood last year, I work a lot with glass. I recycle it from buildings that were destroyed. I guess it is kind of therapeutic for me in a way.”
Indeed, several of Colley’s glass exhibits were on display at the Dietrich as part of fourth Friday in September. He said that he was able to sell 17 pieces of his glass art and he is busy working on more.
“I’m doing different things with the glass, even making jewelry,” Colley said with a chuckle. “I never expected to work this way but I am going to see where it takes me. I want to see how far I can go with it.”
Colley said that his work both with the Dietrich and at Marywood is a good fit with his own artistic pursuits because it provides him a steady income and gives him enough freedom to be able to work on his own.
Before he and Amy took over at the Dietrich, there was no art program in place. They have now been going strong for 11 years, teaching classes side by side.
“We have a lot of high school students taking our classes and that’s great,” Colley pointed out. “I think it’s important for kids to have something to do after school that they’re interested in. It keeps them out of trouble.”
It is a lesson that Colley, whose serves on the Tunkhannock Area School Board, preaches at home and his children seem to have heeded the message.
Colley, himself a former high school football and track standout from Connecticut, has two sons, Gavin and Josh.
Gavin was a star sprinter for the Tunkhannock Area track team presently at Widener University and Josh is currently a starting wide receiver on the Tiger football team.
“I wanted my sons to play sports for the same reason as studying art,” Colley continued. “I want them to find their passion. I’ve been very lucky. The Dietrich is awesome; it is a great place to work. I enjoy the classes and I really like our community.”
Colley pauses before adding thoughtfully, “I’m not going anywhere.”
That is good news for all of the art lovers in Wyoming County.