Angela Faidley: Out of Our Minds Art Studio

Angela Faidley: Out of Our Minds Art Studio

Some might think elementary school art teacher Angela Faidley was out of her mind for launching a business in her 22nd year of employment at St. Ann’s School in Emmaus.

But, if you ask Faidley, teaching art during the day and running an art studio at night is “a dream come true.”

“I have asked myself, ‘Why start a new career in the middle of my life,’” she said. “But then I answer, ‘Why not?’ Time will take place whether I sit back and do nothing or if I live my dream.”

In September of last year, Faidley opened her dream studio, aptly named “Out of Our Minds,” at 65 Lea Street, Macungie, a more-than-150-year-old landmark, known as the old Grange. Built in the mid-1800s as a German Baptist Church and later used by the Odd Fellow’s and Macungie Rod and Gun clubs, the building’s ground floor needed little work to be converted into classrooms, Faidley said, while the upstairs needs renovation for the Faidley family.

Children and adults can choose from a variety of art classes, such as drawing, painting and pottery. They come to the studio, where Faidley provides supplies for private lessons and painting parties. Prices for a two-hour adult party, with a minimum of six guests, run $25 a person, and include wine, snacks and the 8-by-10 canvas for each painting. Similarly, a kid’s birthday party with as many as eight children, including the birthday child, runs $160 and includes a slice of pizza and canvas for each.

Although not a native of the Lehigh Valley, Faidley is tickled that her husband’s technology jobs led her here, near her roots in Vestal, NY, to raise their four children and pursue her artistic desires. She is working toward a fine arts degree at Lehigh Carbon Community College and Baum School of Art in Allentown.

Faidley finds no greater thrill than to create and teach art. It is a passion sparked by a science class drawing contest she won at age 9; a passion that simmered for 13 years while serving St. Ann’s as director of religious education and was rekindled the past twelve years as the school’s first art teacher.

“The power to guide minds to see beyond reality and look deep into their souls is awe-inspiring,” she said. “Art is the air that I breathe, the visions that dance before my eyes and the flashing images that catapult me from sleep, longing to be captured on canvas. The need to share these life-altering emotions demanded I become a teacher of art.”

Because she so enjoys teaching children, finding them open-minded and fearless, she dreamed up a way to interact with them outside of her day job – children’s birthday painting parties. The idea went over so well that Faidley is teaching most weekends and evenings.

And once the adults saw how much fun it was for their children to paint pictures at a private party, they started asking Faidley if she could do the same for them. Without much advertising, Out of Our Minds was expanding into “Mom and Me” classes, couples’ nights and bridal showers. She moved the business out of rented space in Emmaus and was able to purchase the Grange.

St. Ann’s Principal Diana Kile is not surprised at Faidley’s success because, she said, Faidley brings out the best in her students, no matter what their artistic ability. “Angela [Faidley] has a way of getting the students to use their God-given talents to produce art work that represents their best effort,” Kile said. She also enters their work in area art contests and encourages them to help design stage sets and bulletin boards through art club activities.

Adults who have taken lessons from Faidley agree that she inspires them to be creative even when they feel lacking in artistic ability. “I am not artistically inclined, yet I was still able to make a pretty decent painting while really enjoying myself,” said Kyle Fatzinger of Bethlehem, who found the “couples’ night” class “laid back and fun.”  He and his wife made a diptych, which he described as two paintings that when joined create one piece of art.

Faidley2For Dawn Kidd, a hairdresser and cook in Emmaus, Faidley’s classes have been therapeutic. “I go there to find my happy place,” said Kidd, who lost a twin sister and father to cancer since taking her first painting class with Faidley a year and a half ago. “It’s my place where I don’t think of anything.”

Kidd estimates she’s taken 17 of Faidley’s classes, including making glass pendants for necklaces, throwing and painting pottery and a “Mom and me” class with a friend’s daughter. Finding Faidley’s instruction calming, she also has invited co-workers to reap the benefits. “I did not have an interest in art before this,” she said. “I cannot draw. But, since I’ve started going there, I also started baking and using fondant. The creativity has carried over.”

Faidley likens her story to that of the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” in which a young composer puts his personal dreams of creating a musical masterpiece on hold to pay bills and raise a family, only to realize after 40 years as a high school music teacher that his opus was the impact he had on the children he taught.

“That is how I will look at my life in the end,” Faidley wrote in a blog on her website. “If I never become that famous artist or create that masterpiece that will change the world, I may have inspired a person to become more than he thought he could be, create more than he thought possible and to be empowered by self-confidence. The people whose lives I touch now are my masterpiece.”

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