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Professor emeritus of art honored at YWCA Milestones

While speaking with Diana Attie, professor emeritus of art, there is no doubt the passion she has for her profession — and for sharing her love of it with her students.

“Design is all around us everywhere — great design and bad — from Teslas to T-shirts. But real art engages our personal life experience, our senses, our deep yearnings and empathy — and do not count out humor, or even absurdity,” Attie said. “Seeing, judgment and discernment can be rewarding responsibilities. To see, not merely to look, is a cultivated art in itself. The powers of mindful observation are most acutely developed through the concentrated act of drawing. The process is like the scientific method: intense observations, a vision of an outcome, experimentation, revision, repeat, and repeat again and again. Make your first 5,000 mistakes and think nothing of investing those necessary 10,000 hours of rehearsals.”

Diana Attie, center, posed for a photo at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio’s Milestones Awards ceremony with some of her former students, from left, independent artist Helen Grubb, 2011 UT graduate; Hannah Lehmann, an art teacher at Ottawa Hills High School, who received degrees from UT in 2011 and 2015; Elyse Simpko, an adjunct instructor in UT’s Department of Art, and a 2008 and 2012 UT alumna; and Danielle Rante, associate professor of art and art history at Wright State University, who received two degrees from UT in 2003. Attie was recognized for her leadership in the arts; she was nominated for the honor by artist Leslie Adams, a 1989 UT alumna.

This year, Attie received the Milestones Award for her outstanding leadership qualities in the field of art from the YWCA of Northwest Ohio. She also is a former recipient of UT’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

Her visionary example has opened doors for other women to follow.

“The Milestones Award has been given to exemplary women in the fields of science, government, business and the arts for 23 years. Standing with these luminous women is an honor because I have enormous respect for their work, dedication and accomplishments,” she said.

Attie received a master of arts degree in painting and drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University. In 1962, she began teaching in the Toledo Museum of Art/UT joint degree program in art and art history. She has taught a wide range of studio courses in the Department of Art, including her popular Anatomy/Life Drawing course.

“Truthfully, my inspiration comes from each and every woman teacher I have had, and I can name every one, starting from kindergarten,” Attie said. “Their differing personalities, teaching styles, idiosyncrasies, and special talents add up to an aggregate sum of one ‘super teacher.’ I thank them for my love of learning.

“I am, however, forever grateful to the indefatigable Mary Ryan, who was supervisor of art in the public schools, a mentor throughout my college years, and who made me realize my capabilities. From the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University, the inspirational Professor Franny Taft held me spellbound with the dynamic delivery of her art history lectures. I remember my thinking as a student — ‘How can she possibly know so many intricate details?’ Perhaps that is why a major credo of my studio teaching has been ‘within every detail, there is a detail.’”

When asked how she strived to foster leadership in her students, Attie replied, “Whether young women or young men, it is most meaningful to find and do what you love, and love what you do. Listen and communicate clearly with others and in the arts particularly, receive and give critique in a constructive, positive light. Read — not just the art journals. Expand your inquiries into all manner of topics, especially science. Therein comes a freshness and cross-fertilization of ideas. Try to give 110 percent to what you want to do. Be relentless.”

For more information about YWCA of Northwest Ohio or Milestones Awards, visit ywcanwo.org.