Art has enriched every aspect of former high school art teacher Sharyn Seibert’s life and she hopes that by sharing her knowledge and passion for artistic expression she can enrich the lives of others.
“Art is a universal language,” said Seibert. “I have found this over and over in my life. It has power to transform and communicate and bring people together without concern for race or sex or wealth or anything. It is almost like a leveling.”
She retired from teaching art at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute in 2010 but her role as an artist and educator is far from over. She has operated Seibert Design Studio in Guelph for more than 30 years where she produces original works and offers art workshops that, apart from teaching a variety of art techniques, help people deal with grief and trauma.
“I want to share beauty and creativity,” she said. “Sometimes I’ve thought that wasn’t grand or worthy enough and then I realized creativity and art have such power to heal and inspire.”
Seibert and her husband Brian Lauder organize art tours to Italy as well as important architectural sites in the United States. Part of the proceeds from the US tours is donated to the Guelph Arts Council.
“We are doing a fundraising trip to Chicago from Sep 2 to 9 and it is a blockbuster trip too,” said Seiber.
They also host wine tasting events, dinners, art presentations and intimate concerts in their Guelph home.
“My son calls this a curated lifestyle,” Seibert said. “We curate people’s lifestyles.”
Seibert was born in Cambridge, the middle child of three with an older brother and a younger sister. She has an adult son and daughter from a previous marriage.
She studied art and art history at the University of Waterloo, Lakehead University, McMaster University, the University of Guelph and at John Angel Academy in Florence, Italy. She also got her welding ticket at Conestoga College and a diploma in interior decorating from Sheridan College.
Seibert has taught at Ontario high schools in Kenora, Haileybury, Thunder Bay and Guelph and spent a year teaching kindergarten and Grade 1 at a remote First Nations’ community in York Landing, Manitoba.
“I didn’t know Cree but I used to work with the women and we would do native crafts,” she said. “They knew a little bit of English but they didn’t talk very much. We would spend night after night working on moose hair embroidery and making big gauntlets out of deer hide and things like that.”
Creating art helped bridge the language barrier and that, according to Seibert, is why it is so effective at helping people process grief and other traumatic experiences.
“You don’t need to talk a lot,” she said. “There is a spirituality that comes out of your hands. It doesn’t matter if you are four years old or 75. There is a communication that, if people are open, can be a really enjoyable experience.”
Seibert taught art history in Florence during the summer for five years and developed a deep affection for Italian art and culture. It has allowed her and Lauder, a certified sommelier, to arrange unique art and vineyard tours to Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast through their company Italian In Your Heart.
They are still looking to fill the last few spaces for the upcoming Art and Wine in Tuscany trip that goes from April 28 to May 12 and includes visits to Rome, Florence, Venice, Siena, San Gimignano and Fiesole.
Seibert said she has done the trip more than 15 times and still finds new things to experience.
“I always say you have to save something for the next time.”
Seibert Design Studio
Owner: Sharyn Seibert