‘I’ve always liked being creative and doing things with my hands … That led me to looking at my environment to figure out ways to improve it.’
“I’ve always liked being creative and doing things with my hands. I’m an active person; I can never be still. That led me to looking at my environment to figure out ways to improve it.
“If there’s something I need, I’ll try to make it. The satisfaction I get in making things is magnified whenever I share it with somebody else; when they feel like they can make something, it is even better.
“In college, I interned at a place that made Halloween masks and props. I never got to see how people reacted to what I made. With theater, you have to communicate with people, and you get the satisfaction of immediate feedback.
“I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where I studied industrial design, specializing in special effects like animatronics and makeup. Afterwards, I knew I wanted to do something in education. I got a job as a monitor in Roslyn and started building sets for their shows.
“My first set had a terrible design, but I saw that it was something I could improve. I’ve always liked seeing art with which you can interact and experience it. Sets are the magnification of experiencing art— people are using and climbing on them!
I teach students to work with intention. I don’t like to fail, but I’m also not afraid of it.
“I started working at Long Island High School for the Arts, where I teach production and managerial arts, which is all of the creative, hands-on things that happen in theater and film.
“For a bit of time, I was also a scenic carpenter for a company that made holiday windows. In a scene in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ it’s the ’50s, and actors walk by holiday windows that I helped make! I’ve learned that doing different things opens you up to people.
“If you have the right attitude, other people want to work with you. I still build sets for high schools because I enjoy that there’s someone that puts a lot of commitment into making them, and it’s not haphazard. I give a lot of attention to design and make the performers’ experience special.
“It’s cathartic to make things. I appreciate seeing projects start from a pile of lumber and then made into usable pieces. Sometimes people take things for granted. I teach students to work with intention. I don’t like to fail, but I’m also not afraid of it. You learn more from failing and understanding why you failed.”
Interviewed by Iris Wiener