Wednesday, May 2, 2018


As artists we often find ourselves reflecting. Reflecting on the day, a moment, a conversation, a time period, etc. Over the last year I have made a couple of "reflection" pieces. My work continues to be about internal dialogue and the processing of external experiences, but often that comes through the form of a reflection. Just today as I was driving to the grocery story to get dinner ingredients I thought of how I wish I had more time for purposeful reflection.  In this moment I would like to reflect on a few highlights of the last year...

As this academic year draws to a close, I am reflecting on the professional experiences of the last year  (academic year) that have had great impact.

May 2017
Artist Residency at C.R.E.T.A. Rome:This experience was amazing!! I had the best time working and exploring within my work new forms and ideas while in the beautiful setting of the Roman countryside. It was a four week residency that concluded with an exhibition. One of the best parts about this experience was being able to bring my family along for it.

C.R.E.T.A. Rome Exhibition:


June- August 2017
Taught Summer Intensive Visual Arts MFA courses, and became the Director of the program. The position of becoming the Director of the VAMFA program is something that has taken some growing into. It is stressful and challenging and rewarding. The best part is getting to know the students outside of class roles and being an advocate for them.

August 2017
Co-led a study abroad course to Iceland. What an incredible experience. We had 17 students (13 incoming freshman and 4 Junior/ Senior mentors). Iceland is the perfect place for exportation, sight-seeing, and bonding (for students).  It is safe and beautiful and full of wonder!

October 2018
Applied for Tenure 😌

January 2018
Exhibition and Gallery Lecture at 621 Gallery in Tallahassee, FL. This was a fun exhibition. The space is beautiful and well attended. 621 Gallery had the best group of artists and art enthusiast running this space.


February - March 2018
Gallery Exhibition at Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, AL. This was space was really cool and funky. The opening was very well attended, and full of compliments. This exhibition and the exhibition at 621 Gallery were 2 person shows with a dear art friend of mine Kathryn Wiggins. Kathryn and I met when a gallery in Jackson, MS paired us together. We loved our work together so much we decided to co-apply for exhibitions. What a fun experience watching our work grow over the past 2 years together.

March 2018
This year at NCECA I had pleasure of both presenting and exhibiting. The presentation was a brief presentation titled Collections and Balance: Figuring Out This Life One Body of Work at a Time. The presentation coved the navigation of transitions within a body of work and the reflection of life events in that transition.
The exhibition titled Alt-White: A Tounge and Cheek Search for Trump's China was a group exhibition commenting on today's political climate.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Going to Italy

I have been selected for an artist residency at C.R.E.T.A. Rome for this summer. A residency is a time for an artist to be in a new space/ location and make work. It should be a time to focus on the work and making process. I will have a show at the end of the work that I have made during my time in Rome. I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this residency.

                                                                   exhibition space: Gallery at C.R.E.T.A. Rome

Not a bad way to spend a few weeks!

Du Bol 2016

Below is an article published about an international exhibition I was selected for in September 2016.

Tiffany Leach’s ceramic work selected for international exhibition

Tiffany Leach was building a body of research with her series titled Mother’s Collection of ceramic work and, as research, gave little thought to where she would be applying it, or being accepted to. The work was dedicated to the making of a body of work for the purpose of revealing a truth about the human desire to collect.
This very day, Tiffany Leach’s series is double-box packed and being shipped to Gallery Alliages in Lille, France, for an exhibition … and not just any exhibition.
Her work is going to prestigious international juried Du Bol 2016 exhibition as one of only 24 artists selected from throughout the world.
“It’s pretty exciting,’’ Leach, Assistant Professor of Art in the College of Fine Arts, said. “For the Du Bol exhibition, they were looking for vessels, bowls with a little more content than just a perfectly thrown form. I had been working on the Mother’s Collection series and knew it would be great for this exhibition and was just hoping the juror would see it the same way.’’
After seeing an on-line call for the exhibition, Leach realizing her work was eligible, she went through the application process, which led to a juror, Ana Belén Montero, ceramist, sculptor and curator, putting her in the elite group. Her work will be on display through mid-November.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to get exposure for the research and juried exhibitions are a really great way,’’ she said. “When someone significant in the field of ceramics is choosing my work for an international exhibition, I am honored.’’
Her work was selected out of hundreds who applied.
“Regional and national exhibitions are great, but an international juried exhibition with hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world applying lets me know that my work translates culturally,’’ Leach said.
The difficulty in gaining international recognition is a testament to Leach’s maturing as an artist, according to Division of Visual Arts Chair Dana Tupa.
“It is really difficult to gain international recognition for ceramic work when we consider the historical contributions in the field from around the world,’’ Tupa said. “Tiffany has matured as an artist and her ability to depict the push-pull of human communication is propelling her to new heights. I could not be more proud for her and what she brings back from these experiences to her classroom.”
The seven pieces for her second international event, she had another in 2009, are of clay and each is both hand built and thrown (using a wheel to shape the work).
In this particular case, her children, Vida, 4, and Eliza, 2, were the models, if you will.
“I have done a couple of variations of this series, the one that was chosen for this exhibition has clay replicas of objects like cut finger nails, ear wax on a Q-tip, there is one with little teeth in it,’’ she said. “Things that aren’t really what you would collect, but as a mother you go ‘this is my child’s first nail clipping’ or ‘what do I do with this?’ As a maker and a collector and a mother I find myself with these things that I don’t know what to do with and I question and research the human need to keep and collect for the sake of recollection.’’ – Jim Nasella

Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls is one of my favorite community projects. Personally I have been working with and donating to an Empty Bowl charity for over 15 years. At JU we have had our students participation for about 13 years. It is rewarding to see the pride our students take in giving back to the community. Below is an article highlighting our students in November 2016.

Professors Tupa, Leach and students once again working with Empty Bowls project

Two professors from the College of Fine Arts and some of their students are teaming up to once again participate in the 26th Empty Bowls project to help raise awareness about hunger in our area.
Division of Visual Arts Chair Dana Tupa and Assistant Professor for Visual Arts Tiffany Leach are leading student and faculty efforts by making ceramic bowls to donate to the annual Empty Bowls luncheon scheduled Nov. 14.
At the luncheon, a meager meal of soup and bread is served to attendees while hunger awareness is discussed from multiple perspectives. Guests keep the ceramic bowls as a reminder of hunger in the world and how each of us can help.
“Many local schools participate and we are proud to say that JU has been involved for the past 14 years,’’ Professor Tupa said. “We contributed more than 40 bowls for this year’s event and plan for JU student representatives from ceramics to attend.’’
The Empty Bowls project originated in Michigan and quickly spread throughout the United States as an art class project to raise funds for local food drives. For the past 13 years, JU ceramic students have worked with the Second Harvest Food Bank in raising awareness about hunger in the Jacksonville area.
New this year, the school has partnered with the Barnabas Center of Nassau County to expand and continue efforts in supporting the fight against hunger.
“I am most proud of the continued commitment Tiffany and I are able to generate for this event,’’ Professor Tupa said. “It bridges the gap between teacher and student because we are all working together in the production of bowls. Not only do students learn the value of their fortunes in life, they are able to offer assistance to other they may never meet in person. It really is a great event to be part of.’’
Student participants say they get satisfaction from helping in the community.
“I get a sense of fulfillment knowing I was able to contribute to a project that is helping people in need,’’ student Samuel Lopez said. “I learned that something small in giving back can go a long way even if it is not giving currency back to help somebody. To be able to give someone else a piece of myself in the work I did to create bowls is a good feeling.’’
Fellow student Sina Bennett agrees.
“I like doing Empty Bowls because it feels nice to give back to the community,’’ she said. “My bowls were porcelain with the blue slip designs on the rims. It is always fun to be a part of this project.’’
For Professor Leach, the reward is well worth the effort.
“As always, I am excited to have our students participate in the experience along with Dana and me,’’ she said. “It is rewarding as an educator to see students of all skill levels participate in an important cause like Empty Bowls within our community. The best part is for students to see how something they made can create awareness in the larger community.’’

ZooLights 2016

Obviously I would not be teaching if I did not love my students, but truly one of the greatest joys of teaching is working along side my students and getting them out in the community. I am so fortunate to work with a wonderful colleague who shares that same sentiment.  The article below was published in Wave Magazine Online in the fall of this academic year. It highlights a project our students participate in every year with Jacksonville Zoo and Garden. 

Thirty-Nine Stars: JU students and faculty bring their art to the community at Jacksonville Zoo

Each holiday season thousands of lights transform the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens into a luminous winter wonderland where zoo guests have the opportunity to view sculptures and performances by local artists.
This year, as part of the Division of Visual Arts’ commitment to professionals-in-training, professors Tiffany Leach and Dana Tupa challenged students to team design and fabricate 39 luminarias for a 30-foot throughway at the zoo.
The students responded in a big way.
The division is in its fourth year of collaboration with the event and this year JU’s contribution consists of 30 ceramic luminarias with nine intermixed 18-inch planters made by ceramic students and faculty.
The luminarias are arranged in parallel lines flanking the bamboo tunnel marking the start of the Zoo’s lighted train rout beginning this week.
“At more than 25-feet long, amid walls of lighted bamboo foliage, the luminaria sculpture is the most immersive arrangement we have designed so far when considering the train will pass right through the sculpture,’’ Tupa said.
In another location, the Glass Arts program hopes to have its portable glassblowing studio operating for live glassblowing demonstrations during two weekends of the event. Glass students, faculty and alum, will demonstrate techniques to sculpt molten lava-like glass into all manner of festive objects.
Student Alicia Alexander summed up perfectly what Leach and Tupa hoped students would bring back from the experience.
“Working with Zoolights made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than me,” she said.
Partnerships such as these support students’ endeavors to be professionals in their fields and shows them they are quite capable of bringing their artwork to the community.
“I am always so impressed with how our students excel in the challenges of team building and working with exhibition deadlines and expectations set by the zoo,’’ Professor Leach said. She organized a production style studio set-up where beginning ceramic students worked together to fabricate the 30 star cylinder luminarias.
The size of the project made an impression on student Jeremy Eaton.
“Working on this has made me appreciate the timing and organization it takes in working with others on something with so many parts,’’ he said.
Fellow student Meaghan Lohwater agreed.
“The project was really interesting because there are a lot of individuals that worked on it,’’ Lohwater said. “You can definitely tell that each piece is different, but they all function together”.
Professor Tupa’s advanced ceramic class designed individual planters as accent luminarias to alternate between groupings of the star cylinders.
Jessica Cartwright, a student in both the beginning and advanced courses, had the good fortune to experience the project from multiple perspectives.
“It was a lot of work and energy that people put in to do this and all the different ideas coming together in the end was well worth it,’’ she said.
Event Dates
  • Dec. 9 -11 & Dec. 16 – Jan. 7 (Closed Christmas Day)
  • Sun. -Thurs.: 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Fri. -Sat.: 6-10 p.m.
Note: The Zoo closes at 5 p.m. and will re-open for ZOOLights at 6 p.m.

Artwork on Display

The article below was published in the fall of this academic year at the Wave Magazine Online. It is always an honor to exhibit work along side my colleagues and friends. The image in this article features a couple of my works. 

JU-produced artwork to be displayed on Howard Administration Building third floor

The third floor of the Howard Administration Building is undergoing a renaissance of sorts as a centuries-old exhibit retires to be replaced by contemporary works of art from faculty and students.
The Brest Ivory Collection, loaned to the school from the Alexander Brest family with pieces dating to medieval times, has been inventoried, packed and stored in a climate-controlled area of campus.
“The Brest family and their philanthropy to Jacksonville University has been extraordinary,’’ Senior Vice President of University and Academic Affairs Dr. Donnie Horner said. “Part of that extraordinary philanthropy has been their loaning us the ivory collection that is literally centuries old. Regardless of what one thinks of ivory carving and the like, the fact is that when one looks at these exquisite pieces, these were master works of artistry in their time. Unfortunately, what happens is as centuries-old pieces go they become brittle and stale, and you have to care for them and retire them from time to time. We have taken good care to hire a company who specializes in their good care and storage and returned them to safe keeping in a climate-controlled facility in perpetuity.’’
The next step, undertaken this week, is repopulating the area with ceramics, paintings, three-dimensional printed pieces, glass works and a host of works produced at the school.
“We’re excited about this because we’re going to dust it off and freshen it from time to time,’’ Horner said. “Where once we had the exquisite artistry of the ivory collection you will now see master works by Jacksonville University artists.’’
The initial incoming offering will include paintings by Assistant Professor of 2-D Art and Foundations Coordinator Lily Kuonen; ceramic works by Professor of Art and department chair Dana Tupa and Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Tiffany Leach; glass work by Assistant Professor of Glass Brian Frus; photos embedded in aluminum from Associate Professor of Photography Ginger Sheridan who worked in collaboration with Associate Professor of Piano Dr. Scott Watkins, 3-D printed characters created by Associate Professor of Animation Erik Kuzendorf, a collection of original logos from Assistant Professor of Graphic Design David Smith and a self-portrait burned into wood from Assistant Professor of Sculpture Jim Benedict.
“The intent is to use the space on a rotating basis for faculty, student and alumni works,’’ Dean of Fine Arts Dr. Henry Rinne said. “To get started, we have the work from the faculty and will work on a schedule to rotate the pieces.’’
Rinne said rotation generally will be by the semester unless one of the works is required at another site.
“Sometimes the faculty will have an exhibit elsewhere and will have to pull it out and replace it,’’ he said. “The rotations probably won’t be wholesale changes.’’
– Jim Nasella

Saturday, March 12, 2016

NCECA 2016 Discussion

We are excited to lead this discussion at NCECA 2016 Kansas City. 

Teach and Learn: The Craft Impact 
This discussion will speak to the impact of teaching craft in ceramics amid the ‘anything goes’ climate. The postmodern to contemporary era is coupled with little need for craftsmanship; yet, learning it is a vehicle for experimentation. Tiffany Leach and Dana Tupa invite how and why we tackle craft.

Students in action 

Student work

Dana Tupa
Tiffany Leach