Art Beat: Art That Transforms

Jun 18, 2020

A painting by Denise Lisiecki
Credit Courtesy Denise Lisiecki

She is the director of the Kirk Newman Art School at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. But Denise Lisiecki did not start her career in the arts.


As a professional artist, Lisiecki has been represented in galleries nationwide. Her work can be also be found in more than 50 museum and corporate collections. But when Lisiecki enrolled in college as a young woman, her focus was on psychology and pre-med.

“I always had a great interest in art,” Lisiecki says. “I always drew as a child. I went to the Cleveland Art Museum quite a bit, saw great works of art and was inspired by that. I had lots of art classes through grade school, high school, college. But I also had an interest in the sciences.”

Credit Courtesy Denise Lisiecki

Lisiecki attended Miami University as a psychology/pre-med major but switched to painting with a minor in English Literature. She received a BFA in painting at Miami University. She also attended Cleveland State University and the Kent Blossom Summer Art Program at Kent State University, and spent a semester of graduate school at the University of North Dakota. She received her MA from SUNY Oswego.

“My theory is that as math goes with music, science goes with the visual arts,” Lisiecki says.

Originally from Cleveland, Lisiecki and her husband moved to southwest Michigan. Until then, Lisiecki’s artwork was more abstract. But she was inspired by the nature she found in Michigan, beginning with her own home surrounded by 25 acres.

Lisiecki took art classes at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and before too long became an instructor there herself, later yet taking over the role of director of the Kirk Newman Art School. She teaches watercolor painting. Her other techniques and mediums include serigraph, encaustic, and pochoir (stencil).

“I don’t care who you are, or how long you’ve been doing it, or how famous you are, you talk to artists and they do this; they renew themselves,” Lisiecki says, explaining her exploration of different styles and techniques over the years.

Besides work shown in galleries nationwide, Lisiecki has had many one-person exhibitions and has been included in major group and invitational exhibitions. She has received numerous creative artist grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

You’ll find information about online classes offered at the Kirk Newman Art School here.

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