Feature: Talking Colors

Arriving in Ann Arbor from St. Petersburg Russia, Elena Townsend-Efimova started the Talking Colors Art Studio in 1993.

Living with the belief that “Every child is an artist,” her house is an exhibit. She has stacks of artwork in closets and on walls—framed, stuck and stacked. Her large art table is covered with mattes and artwork made of many mediums—watercolor and acrylic to ink. She appears to know where and what they all are, who made them and the age of the artist. “I have art that my students made, gifts, art my own children have created, and even art from children in Russia.” Townsend-Efimova said. “It’s a passion of mine.”

Her passion is contagious, and she has no problem attracting students. As an art teacher at Rudolf Steiner and former teacher at the Ann Arbor Art Center, word-of-mouth advertising keeps her classes at Talking Colors full. She never pre-selects students and has children of all ages that come from Ann Arbor and as far away as Detroit.

“My favorite thing about teaching art is inspiring other people, and proving that they are talented.” said Townsend-Efimova. “In the case of art—the talent is right in front of you. It’s not like music when you play a sound and it disappears. It’s on paper. It’s undeniable.”

Art by her students can also be seen outside of the studio. Many of the pieces are displayed in professional buildings around town—framed and exhibited by proud parents. A select few have even been used for publishing purposes, appearing on posters and CD covers for the band Gemini, and a collection is now on exhibit at The Common Cup Coffeehouse.

Michelle Armbruster, events coordinator for the Common Cup, booked the Talking Colors Show after reading an article about Townsend-Efimova’s home in AnnArbor.com.

“When I read the article, I thought this would be a perfect exhibit for our shop.” said Armbruster. “Elena brings her love for teaching children to create, as well as her own personal artwork; we are pleased to have her exhibit at The Common Cup.”

Now, why you ask, does most children’s art end up on refrigerators and in the bottom of backpacks, while Townsend-Efimova’s students have pieces on CD covers and in coffee shops?

“It’s because I give them a BIG piece of paper,” said Townsend. “I give them nice supplies, freedom to create—I believe in their talent, it makes all the difference.”

Type: Feature Article
Published: Tuesday, Jan 19
AnnArbor.com (print and online)
View article here

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