Teresa Tolliver is an artist who excels in ceramics, painting and mixed media. Tolliver also has over 25 years of experience as an arts educator working with children, youth and adults; she has partnered, among others, with the Theater of Hearts/Youth First, the California Youth Authority, The Music Center, the African American Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A native of Los Angeles, Tolliver always wanted to be an artist as a child, but “in the black neighborhood, you were not encouraged t be an artist because it’s not a steady career.” Tolliver became a secretary but could not let her yearnings for an art career be forgotten. So she studied art at California State University, Northridge. However, she believes she learned more on her own than in a formal settings. What she discovers in her search for knowledge is joyfully incorporated into her work—including, she says, “the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tolliver had been teaching ceramics for over ten years when she got a lesson in throwing from Master ceramist, Michael Frimkess that sent her to the wheel for “nine or teen hours every day.” Similarly, she was teaching African wrap dolls when she discovered the wrap dolls of South America and their use of natural materials. Cultures that “don’t have a lot of money have to look around in nature to see what they can use to create art.” Her search for found objects takes her far and wide “to the Children’s Museum, behind factories, and to swap meets two to three times a week. I try to find materials all the time. If I am driving by a factory and I see something I could use, I make a u-turn and go back and get it. I love sharing and passing on my knowledge as a artist to the next generation.