Terry Teitelbaum’s paintings and pastels reflect the beauty of the natural world and its constant changes.
She cultivated her sensitivity for nature and the landscape at a young age, during summer visits to her grandmother’s farm and through her world travels as an adult. Her expertise in color, form and texture was developed during her former career in the fashion industry.
Teitelbaum attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where her talent for design landed her the opportunity to design the first print lingerie for an FIT fashion show. She graduated in 1967 and spent the summer on a solo travel adventure hitchhiking throughout Europe and North Africa, often camping on the beach. She returned to the city in the fall to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where she won an award for her children’s wear design. She received her degree in fashion design from Pratt in 1969.
In the early years of her post-graduate career, Teitelbaum designed children’s wear in New York City. Innovation in fashion was at a new level in the sixties when “breaking the rules” with color combinations was just beginning. Psychedelic colors and tie-dyed fabrics exploded after the 1950s along with bold and revolutionary designs that defined the era’s young generation. It was a time for maximum experimentation in colors and learning to take chances with color and design soon became natural for the artist, a talent she later incorporated into her paintings.
Following her marriage, Teitelbaum and her husband left the city in 1971 in search of a rural environment for raising a family, moving to Cambridge, New York, three hours north of the city. Together they built their home, grew their own food, raised their children and lived in nature which provided the foundation for furthering her art.
Travel remained at the heart of Teitelbaum’s life experience. She brought her young family on cross-country excursions and camping trips to Acadia National Park in Maine and the American Southwest. Experiencing the open road and nature up close provided a wealth of inspiration for the artist’s creative work.
Back at home, she set up her studio and continued her exploration of style, design and color through custom design work. She also supervised and coordinated the design and construction of costumes for dance and drama productions for Bennington College’s Theater Department in Vermont.
Teitelbaum and her husband continued their travels over the years, with trips to Europe, Central America and the American Southwest, particularly Santa Fe, New Mexico, which greatly influenced her design work. Multiple visits to Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Chinle, Arizona had a strong impact on the artist’s life and creative vision. Powerful earth colors and textures from its sandstone cliffs and stone formations became part of Teitelbaum’s creative toolbox. Visits to the Navajo reservation and the area’s ancestral ruins provided spiritual insights which enhanced the artist’s creative vision.
After decades of working with thousands of yards of fabric and a variety of textiles, textures and colors, Teitelbaum was ready to expand her visual experience. Feeling an intense desire to use pigment to express her inner thoughts, she picked up a paint brush in 2017 and left her sewing machines behind to focus on a new direction: oil painting. She later started working with pastels so she could paint while traveling.
Years of studying the visual rhythms and natural patterns she experienced in deserts, oceans and her local surroundings led Teitelbaum towards painting abstract landscapes, inspired by the colors and textures of the fashion designs and textiles from her past. She was already well-versed in using color and texture to get attention, evoke a mood, express emotions and manipulate the senses and her daring use of color combinations were honed in the fashion world. Impressionist artists such as Van Gogh, Monet and Gaugin, along with contemporary artist Wolf Kahn, also informed her paintings.
The artist began exhibiting her work almost immediately, garnering her first solo show in 2018 at a music event at Maple Ridge Gallery in Cambridge, New York. In 2019, she was juried into another solo show, at Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester, Vermont, followed by a solo pastel exhibition in Vermont in the spring of 2020. Her work was also juried into the annual Landscape for Landsake exhibition in Cambridge, New York, benefiting the Agricultural Stewardship Association, in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic abruptly interrupted Teitelbaum’s exhibition schedule and brought her back to her roots in fabric design. Although she had sold most of her industrial sewing equipment in 2019 when transitioning her creative space from a sewing studio to an art studio, she still had her first Bernina machine from the seventies to begin making masks for locally immunocompromised individuals, clinics and food preparation workers. Then she discovered a dire need for masks in southwest Native American reservations, particularly the Navajo nation she had visited in Arizona. She created and donated over 1,000 masks to them for the first two months and is continuing her donation of over 100 masks per week throughout the COVID crisis.
"As an artist, I try to capture the texture and color from the different visual influences in my life that tell a story. My hope is that the energy and emotion of my work transmits that story to others"