Meet An Instructor: Anna Lowenthal Walsh

Anna is a ‘let’s do it’ kind of person who is never afraid to try something new and sees imperfections as interesting, not as failures! A transplant from California, she has been busy raising a family and working on her art after moving to Minnesota with her husband 15 years ago. She’ll be teaching the ‘Intro to Power Tools for Women and Girls’ on September 14. 

How did you become an artist? I’ve always been a maker. My mother was a weaver who had a studio in the lower level of our house. She died when I was young and some of my strongest memories are of seeing the light streaming through the different colors of yarn on her looms, as I played in her studio. I spent quite a bit of time with my grandmother, we’d go outside together and gather natural objects, then weave them into baskets or make other art. My grandmother felt that the important thing was to make art, not to worry about if the item was perfect. I grew to recognize that the exciting thing was the making of something out of what we found, rather than buying something. After college I had a variety of art-related jobs, such as working at the Sante Fe Folk Art Museum, but have been focused on my own art for many years. 

Photo Credit: Submitted by Anna Lowenthal Walsh 

What made you decide to offer a class on power tools? I am not afraid to try something and fail, I enjoy the process of learning. My oldest son and I took a class in Maryland to learn how to put together a kit for a teardrop camper. We began the project as part of the class, mounted it on a trailer and then brought the camper back to Minneapolis to finish it. I gained confidence doing that, then decided to build a warming hut in our yard using wood scraps. My women friends made comments about how they couldn’t have done what I did because they didn’t know how to use power tools. I knew they could do it, if they had some confidence and time to learn…so started a class, initially for friends, and for kids of friends.  

Why have a class specifically aimed at women and girls? I recognized that boys often learn from their fathers or grandfathers, but even today, that happens less frequently with girls. I think that if you don’t learn by a young age, say around 12, you may not ever do it. I didn’t learn to use a circular saw until I was in my 40’s but now I love working with wood, and I wanted to encourage other women to learn by providing a supportive environment. 

Photo Credit: Submitted by Anna Lowenthal Walsh 
What do you hope people will get out of your class? They will gain fundamental confidence and comfort using at least 3 different power tools. They’ll be able to take their newly learned skills home with them, and use the tools without feeling nervous. They’ll be ready to do some diy projects or even take on small projects such as building some shelving.  

What about the Marine Mills Folk School mission and values resonates with you? I love the emphasis on building community, and on nature. My time with my grandmother involved going outside to find different grasses and weave them into baskets, or finding other things from nature to incorporate into making something else. I love creating art that comes from nature but that is functional, or re-using something that originally served another purpose. I’m working on a commission to create a quilt that will be a gift for a young girl whose father died. Her mother has provided clothing that I’m making into a quilt that will connect the child to her father through a beautiful, useful quilt she’ll be able to use for comfort and warmth. 

Photo Credit: David Clode on Unsplash 
Irrational Fear? Snakes
Odd food combination? I put potato chips on my sandwiches
Skill I wish I had? Skate Skiing – it does not come naturally to those of us from Southern California!
Favorite place in Nature? Backpacking with my family, deep in the wilderness, sleeping under the stars
Recommended podcast: “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” – real talk about tough life events, with humor and deep honesty

Photo Credit: Submitted by Anna Lowenthal Walsh