Analyzing the artists of North Kingstown’s Shady Lea Mills


I scan my memory searching for a life jacket story, but all I can think about is how clean her studio is. I thought artists were supposed to be messy. It suddenly became clear to me that I over analyze everything each time I walk into an artist’s studio space. And at Shady Lea Mills 15th Annual Open Studio Tour earlier this month, I feel more like a giddy psychoanalyst than a reporter on the job.

There were over 40 studios to peruse. My original plan was to interview Michael Richardson, Justin Tarducci and Timothy Underwood of Anchor Bend Glassworks, but my plan failed beautifully because they were too busy popping popcorn inside of freshly blown glass to an amazed crowd. While I waited for the flock to dissipate, I wandered from studio to studio, mentally deconstructing each artist’s psyche.

Casey Weibust’s space has a warm, cozy feel, almost every inch covered in art. “You don’t have to be an amazing artist to do printmaking; you can just experiment and be free to create,” Casey says. “This is how we used to make images before we had computers.” I found myself wishing for a time machine to transport myself 50 years into the past.

I am soon lured into a studio with couches, low lights and a strong aroma of sandalwood incense. “I work on keeping it a certain vibe,” said Claudia Flynn. She continues to talk, but I’m distracted by the baby doll head on the body of a deer. Flynn’s voice begins fading in and out because I swear her creations are so powerful they speak louder than words.

I arrive back where I started at Anchor Bend Glassworks. Co-owner Michael is more than willing to give me what is probably his 10 billionth glass blowing lesson of the day. He is an amazing teacher and made me feel like I created a grand piece of art. Not to sound cliché, but there is something mind blowing about making art out of liquid glass. Oh, and as for my “professional” diagnoses, I have none. Let’s just say I was blown away.

Yosefa Leora is a journalist based in Rhode Island. She can be contacted at yomotif@gmail.com or at DareMe Yosefa on Facebook. She can also be followed at @goagnome on Instagram.

Image Credit: Claudia Flynn

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