Roxie May can't remember not doing art. When she was little, she made her own toys out of paper: “I had a lot of plastic horses and I’d have to make all the riders and the buildings and the crowds.” In high school and college, Roxie was into performing arts and tech theater–set design and lighting design–but soon switched to fine arts with a major in ceramics and a minor in fiber arts.
An art educator in the Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) for 30 years, Roxie retired in 2016. “One of the things that I like best about art is problem solving. When somebody is struggling and their piece just isn't working out, there’s typically an ‘Aha!’ moment when the piece finally expresses what the artist wanted to express. It's beautiful to see that happening.”
Eager to return to fiber arts after her retirement, she heard about Saskia Jorda’s textiles class at Phoenix College. The class, which covers embroidery, wet and needle felting, ice and indigo dyeing, contact printing, coiling, and a final conceptual project, has kept Roxie coming back for over ten semesters. “Community keeps me coming back. The class creates friendships and a lot of respect and trust. If I was still a teacher, I would be learning a lot about how to teach by observing Saskia. She is wonderful.”
Roxie’s favorite moments in class are the critiques, when people explain the deeper meaning of something on the surface, oftentimes very intimate and painful experiences. “It's an honor to be a part of that, to be witness to that,” she said. “It's also valuable to see how people use materials in ways you wouldn't have thought of–some people are more literal, and some people are way out there, but it all works.” What Roxie likes most about art and creativity is the process: “That's part of the learning, which is something I never want to stop doing. I don't have to come to school to do this, but in this environment, the learning is richer because there's an exchange of ideas.”